Few holiday resorts in Costa del Sol can rival Nerja's selection of quality restaurants. There's a great mixture of the traditional and the cutting edge, so round the corner from old and well-loved tapas bars you'll find upmarket restaurants that aim for a serious fine dining experience. Locals in Nerja start eating later than we do here, beginning with a drink and a tapas and then order some different plates of raciones to share. This is a great way to eat in Nerja, as it's a really good way to make your meals as fun and sociable as possible.
Oliva is the sort of restaurant you'd expect to find in a cosmopolitan city rather than a coastal town like Nerja. Oliva utilise the fantastic produce available in Andalusia including, of course, fish from Nerja fishermen cooked in a Mediterranean style, with some classical French training tying everything together.
El Avalon is one of the most talked about restaurants in Nerja. It manages to pull off something pretty special, doing things differently while remaining a true crowd-pleaser. You'll find innovative and well-executed international dishes, tapas with a twist, and if you sit on the terrace you'll have a fantastic view of the sea and the beach below - perfect for making the most of late holiday deals to Costa del Sol.
Japanese and Mediterranean fusion seems to be a cooking style gaining some traction in the food world. When fusion food is done right it can be wonderful, and at Sekai it's definitely done right. The chefs at Sekai don't mix the two cuisines in every dish – their sushi remains light and clean and subtle, for example – but combining the subtlety of Japanese execution with the robustness of Mediterranean flavours can make for some really exciting dining experiences.
Sweden and Spain are two European countries that couldn't be more different, but somehow at Fusion Food a partnership has been formed. Chef Fredrik Kullberg brings together influences from a life spent travelling the world to create his simple and elegant food, utilising the best of Spanish ingredients. His dishes are some of the finest in Nerja.
Bakus does food of real quality without aspiring to be proper haute cuisine. This means that you get honest, unpretentious cooking with big flavours and generous portions, and you won't be shocked by the bill. You'll also be impressed by the wine list and the views from the restaurant terrace.
Julie's Place is a small and slightly quirky tapas bar, and its increasingly popularity means that it's sometimes hard to get a seat. If you do find one, however, you'll be treated to a large range of traditional tapas and a fun, chilled-out atmosphere that you'll hurry back to.
Restaurante Jacky does a mix of French and Spanish food, all executed with attention to detail and a passion for great ingredients. Every Thursday there's a seven-course taster menu instead of the normal á la carte, which is great value considering it includes wine with each course.
Sometimes 'tapas with a twist' can be tiresome. Why tinker with something so wonderful? Mo GastroTapas do a lot of tinkering, but once you see their plates you can't help but smile. They manage to keep all the good things – big flavours and great ingredients – while presenting everything with a sense of humour and a great sense for the visual aspect of why we enjoy food.
We may not be able to pronounce it, but Cerveceria El Pulguilla definitely does some of the best tapas in Nerja. When it's somewhere favoured by the locals you know they're doing things properly, and Cerveceria El Pulguilla's fresh and simple tapas means that Spanish is the language that you're most likely to hear at the bar.
A restaurant with a number for a title – you might think it's going to be pretentious, humourless and expensive. But Restaurant 34 in Nerja, which is part of Hotel Carabeo, is none of these things. Instead you'll find solid Mediterranean meals using local ingredients, and an atmosphere that's great for both couples looking for quiet intimacy and larger parties with something to celebrate.