A Marbella Tasca-Crawl

To really rub shoulders with the locals and experience a taste of Spain, eat in the tapas bars. Marbella boasts more hole-in-the-wall tapas bars than virtually any other resort town in southern Spain.

Prices and hours are remarkably consistent: The coffeehouse that opens at 7am will switch to wine and tapas when the first patron asks for them (sometimes shortly after breakfast), then continue through the day dispensing wine, sherry, and, more recently, bottles of beer. On average, tapas cost 3€ to 10€ ($4.80-$16), but some foreign visitors configure them into platos combinados.

Tapas served along the Costa del Sol are principally Andalusian in origin, with an emphasis on seafood. The most famous plate, fritura malagueña, consists of fried fish based on the catch of the day. Sometimes ajo blanco, a garlicky local version of gazpacho made with almonds, is served, especially in summer. Fried squid or octopus is another favorite, as are little Spanish-style herb-flavored meatballs. Tortilla (an omelet, often with potatoes) is the most popular egg dish. Other well-known tapas include pungent tuna, grilled shrimp, piquillos rellenos (red peppers stuffed with fish), bacalao (salt cod), and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

Tapas bars line many of the narrow streets of Marbella's historic core, with rich pickings around Calle del Perral and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Calle Miguel Cana. In August especially, when you want to escape wall-to-wall people and the heat and noise of the Old Town, head for one of the shoreline restaurants and tapas bars called chiringuitos. All serve local specialties, and you can order a full meal, a snack, tapas, or a drink. One of our favorites is Los Sardinales, Playa de los Alicates (tel. 95-283-70-12), which serves some of the best sangria in the area. Another favorite is Chiringuito La Pesquera, Playa Marbellamar (tel. 95-277-03-38), where you can order a plate of fresh grilled sardines.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.