The 20 Best Nerja Restaurants:
Plus Most Popular Dishes & Recipes
** Beautiful terrace overlooking the sea at Restaurant No. 34 at Hotel Carabeo
Welcome to our guide to the best restaurants in Nerja...
Nerja is one of the busiest towns on the eastern end of the Costa del Sol and as such it has a GREAT selection of top quality restaurants. There are over 320 restaurants in the town of Nerja alone. And due to its coastal location, Nerja's cuisine is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean diet... known worldwide for its amazing health benefits!
The best Nerja restaurants are known not only for their delicious food, but also for their picturesque settings. Many are located along the town's stunning beaches or in charming plazas with breathtaking views. Restaurants like Ayo's, famous for its paella, are located right on Burriana Beach, allowing you to enjoy your meal while watching the gentle waves roll in.
You can choose from high-end Michelin recommended hot spots (like Oliva), a huge selection of international cuisine (like Italian, Asian and even Morrocan) or the down and dirty, back to basics, but amazingly delicious, beachside chiringuitos... whatever you crave, you are sure to find it in Nerja!
Living just 5 minutes down the coast from this charming village, we make it a habit to eat here often... and in our opinion these are the 20 BEST Nerja restaurants...
The 4 BEST High-End Spanish Restaurants in NerjaThese four Nerja restaurants might be on the pricey side but they are WELL worth the money. If you are on holiday and want a meal to remember, try one of these favorites below...
The Best Moderately Priced Nerja Restaurants
The Best Tapas Bars in Nerja
MO GASTRO TAPAS
The Best Breakfast / Lunch Cafes in NerjaIn town for a visit and need something good first thing in the morning... we've got you covered. You can't go wrong with either of these two choices...
The Best Italian Nerja RestaurantsFor some reason, Nerja is packed with some really good Italian restaurants... Most do a combination of good Italian and Spanish, here are our favorites.
The Best Steakhouse in Nerja
The Best Indian RestaurantsSo you come all the way to Spain and you want... Indian food? No problem, because of the large number of British ex-pats living in Nerja, you will have your choice of good Indian food...
There are at least 15 Indian restaurants in Nerja, but these are our two favorites...
TASTE OF INDIA
The Best Asian / Thai Nerja Restaurants
The Best Nerja ChiringuitosWhat is a chiringuito, you may ask? It's a small bar or restaurant located on the beach 🏖️. They are known for their casual, relaxed atmosphere, and are popular spots to enjoy a drink, a quick snack, or a full meal. The menu typically features fresh seafood, tapas, and traditional Andalucian cocktails like sangria and tinto de verano.
These are our two favorite Nerja chiringuitos...
PLAYA Y SOL
The most popular dishes in Nerja restaurantsWith the sea as its backdrop, Nerja offers a dining experience that embraces its long coastal traditions, from the freshness of its seafood dishes (like the fiery Gambas Pil Pil 🔥) to its wonderful meats, salads, soups and desserts.
Influenced by thousands of years of Mediterranean life, combined with the relaxed charm of the village and its beautiful coastline... eating in Nerja is an absolute pleasure!
Here is a list of some of Nerja's most popular and delicious dishes... Be sure to try them while you're in town!
Best Seafood DishesEspetos de Sardinas: One of the most typical dishes along the Málaga coast, these are sardines skewered on reeds and grilled over an open fire... usually on the beach. Their smoky flavor, combined with the salty sea breeze, offers an authentic Nerja experience.
Boquerones en Vinagre: Fresh anchovies marinated in a mixture of vinegar, garlic and parsley. The acidity "cooks" the fish, resulting in a tangy, spicy bite. A staple in many of Nerja's restaurants, it's a must-try for anyone who loves seafood.
Gambas Pil Pil: A wonderful dish not only in Nerja but all over Andalucia and one of our favorites!!
The shrimp are sautéed in sizzling olive oil with garlic, chili and sometimes a hint of paprika. Served piping hot, the shrimp are juicy and flavorful, and the oil makes a delicious dip for fresh bread.
Make it yourself at home:
- Prawns (Gambas): 500g, fresh or frozen (deveined and peeled, with tails intact)
- Extra Virgin Olive oil: 150ml
- Garlic: 4-5 cloves, finely sliced or minced
- Red chili peppers: 1-2 (adjust according to heat preference), finely sliced
- Paprika: 1 tsp (optional, for added color and flavor)
- Lemon: 1, for zest and juice
- Fresh parsley: A handful, chopped for garnish
- Salt: To taste
- Preparation: If using frozen prawns, make sure they are thoroughly thawed. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- To Cook: In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic to the oil. When the garlic begins to sizzle (but not brown), add the sliced chili peppers.
- Prawns: Add the prawns to the pan. If using paprika, sprinkle it over the prawns now. Season with salt.
- Sizzle: Cook the prawns for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until they turn pink and opaque. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the prawns, so keep an eye on them to make sure they don't overcook.
- Finishing touches: When cooked, grate some lemon zest over the prawns, squeeze in some lemon juice, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- To Serve: Transfer the prawns and flavored oil to a serving dish. Gambas Pil Pil are traditionally served hot and bubbling straight from the pan, with crusty bread to soak up the delicious oil.
- Note: The key to Gambas Pil Pil is the sizzling garlic and chili flavored oil. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot; it should sizzle gently to infuse the flavors without burning the garlic.
- Note 2: You can also buy a Gambas Pil Pil spice mix at the Nerja market, just go to the spice tent and you will see it!
- Enjoy: This classic Spanish tapa should be enjoyed with a chilled glass of white wine or a cold beer!
Gambas a la Plancha: Grilled prawns seasoned with sea salt.
Calamares Fritos: Deep fried squid rings, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, another favorite. Served with a lemon wedge and alioli for dipping!
Best Meats DishesPaella (Meat and Rice Dish): Paella is probably the MOST popular dish you will find along the Spanish coast. Although originally from Valencia, paella is a popular dish throughout Spain, including in Nerja. The Andalucian version includes a variety of meats like chicken, beef or seafood, making it rich, flavorful and very filling.
Rabo de Toro: This is a traditional Spanish oxtail stew and it's delicious! Its typically slow cooked until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. The sauce is made with a base of tomatoes, red wine, and a mix of vegetables and spices that provide a deep, robust flavor. This dish is especially popular in the more inland villages along the coast, like nearby Acebuchal.
Jamón Ibérico: While not a dish in itself, Jamón Ibérico is a type of cured ham that people love in Spain. It's usually served as a tapa, thinly sliced, and enjoyed with local cheeses, bread and wine.
Flamenquín: Although not exclusive to Nerja, this Andalucian specialty consists of ham and meat (usually pork) breaded and fried. It's a heavy dish that contrasts with the lighter seafood options.
Albondigas en Salsa de Almendras: Meatballs in almond sauce. The kids will love this one!
Best Soups and SaladsAjoblanco: A cold almond soup that's both refreshing and nutty. Garnished with grapes or green melon, it balances creamy and sweet elements, perfect for Nerja's sun-drenched days.
Gazpacho and Salmorejo: Gazpacho and Salmorejo are two traditional Spanish cold soups that have won hearts beyond their native Andalusia. Both are primarily made from tomatoes and bread, blended to a creamy consistency and garnished before serving.
Gazpacho, the more widely known of the two, typically includes other vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, and onions, giving it a lighter flavor profile and a slightly thinner consistency. It can be enjoyed as a refreshing drink or as an appetizer... especially during the hot summer months.
Salmorejo is thicker and creamier, usually made with only tomatoes, bread, garlic and olive oil. This soup is often garnished with hard-boiled eggs and jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham), making it more hearty and filling. Salmorejo is found more often in rural villages.
Both are excellent! 👍
Ensalada Malagueña: This salad combines potatoes, oranges, cod, olives and onions, drizzled with olive oil. The combination of the citrus taste of the oranges and the salty taste of the cod makes it a unique dish in the province of Málaga.
Ensalada Andaluza con Miel de Caña: This salad is a wonderful fusion of Andalucian flavors, with a bed of mixed greens, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy toasted pine nuts, all beautifully tied together with a sweet drizzle of miel de caña (a kind of local molassis).
Best DessertsFlan: A creamy, caramel-topped custard dessert that is both simple and elegant. The base is made with eggs, milk, and sugar.
Arroz con Leche: A comforting rice pudding with a subtle hint of cinnamon and citrus.
Churros con Chocolate: These are a popular treat throughout the south of Spain. They are long, fried dough pastries that are typically eaten for breakfast. They are best when dipped in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar or thick, hot chocolate. In Nerja you can find them in the local cafes, especially in the mornings.
Best Beverages, Wines, or SpiritsMalaga Wine: This sweet wine from the Malaga region is often paired with desserts, but can also be enjoyed on its own. Made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes, Malaga wines range from dry to very sweet. 🍷
Cerveza: Cerveza is the Spanish word for beer, and it's a staple with a good Spanish meal. It is typically served very cold and in smaller sizes called cañas (small glasses) or tubos (tall, thin glasses). 🍺
Tinto Verano: Tinto de Verano, which means "red wine of summer", is another popular drink in Nerja. It's a mixture of red wine and carbonated lemonade or soda (like Sprite or Fanta Lemon) and is served over ice with a slice of lemon or orange. Tinto de Verano is similar to sangria, but simpler and less sweet, making it a refreshing and lighter choice for a hot day. It's also easy to make at home! 🍹
Sangria: Sangria is perhaps one of the most internationally recognized Spanish drinks. It's a fruity, sweet cocktail typically made with red wine, chopped fruit (like oranges, lemons, berries, and apples), a sweetener (like honey, sugar, or orange juice), and a small amount of brandy or other spirit.
Some versions use white wine or cava (Spanish sparkling champagne 🍾) instead of red wine. Sangria is served chilled and is popular in Nerja restaurants, especially as a summer drink.
Make it yourself at home:
- Red Wine: 1 bottle (750 ml) of a dry red wine (like Tempranillo, Garnacha, or other Spanish red wines)
- Brandy: 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how strong you want it
- Orange Juice: 1/2 cup
- Fruit: 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime, all sliced into thin rounds, plus other fruits like apples or berries, if desired
- Sweetener: 2-4 tablespoons of sugar, honey, or simple syrup, adjust to taste
- Carbonated Water or Soda: (Optional) for a fizzy touch
- Ice: For serving
- Cinnamon stick: For garnish
- Fresh mint: For garnish
- A splash of a liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)
- Preparation: Slice the orange, lemon, and lime into thin rounds. If you're using apples or other fruits, cut them into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Combine: In a large pitcher, combine the sliced fruit and sweetener (sugar, honey, or simple syrup). Muddle the fruit lightly with a spoon to release some of the juices and help dissolve the sweetener.
- Add the Liquor: Pour in the brandy and orange juice. If you're using any optional liqueurs, add them now.
- Add the Wine: Pour the entire bottle of red wine into the pitcher.
- Mix: Stir everything together to combine. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary.
- Chill: Refrigerate the Sangria for at least 2 hours, or overnight. This allows the flavors to meld together.
- Serve: Just before serving, if you want a fizzy Sangria, add some carbonated water or soda. Serve over ice in glasses.
- Garnish: Optionally, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint for an aromatic touch.
Wine Choice: Choose a wine that's good enough to drink on its own. It doesn't have to be expensive, but its quality will significantly affect the Sangria.
Fruit Variations: Feel free to experiment with different fruits based on seasonality and your preferences.
Make Ahead: Sangria benefits from sitting for a few hours to let the flavors meld, so it's a great make-ahead drink for gatherings.
Local Dining Tips for Eating in a Nerja RestaurantHere are three things you should know about eating in a Nerja restaurant, or any restaurant on the Costa del Sol for that matter. Things work differently here and it's best to know what to expect...
Tipping: While tipping isn't mandatory in Nerja, leaving small change or up to 10% in restaurants for good service is appreciated.
Embrace the Timing: Spaniards typically eat lunch between 2pm and 4pm and dinner late, around 9pm to 11pm. It's a good idea to sync with the locals for the best experience. Or, go early to beat the crowds.
Relaxed Pace: Dining in Nerja is not a rushed affair! Service is much more leisurely than what you're probably used to. Locals are more accustomed to a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, so enjoy the relaxed pace, savor your meal, and use the extra time to take in the beautiful views.
Reservations: As things have gotten busier over the years, making a reservation for dinner has become almost mandatory. Not because the restaurants require it, but because the high season is getting longer and you don't want to miss out!
Other Important Info About Eating and Dining in Nerja
The Tapas Culture in NerjaIn southern Spain, especially around the Costa del Sol and Nerja, the tapas culture is an integral part of daily life and is celebrated in many of the best Nerja restaurants.
But what exactly are tapas?
Tapas are small, savory dishes usually served with a drink. From classics like olives, cheese and cured Iberian ham to more elaborate dishes featuring fresh seafood and tropical fruits and vegetables. Experiencing tapas in Nerja offers you a small taste of the area's delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
The best Nerja restaurants pride themselves on their tapas, serving the tastiest and most traditional Andalucian flavors. A fun thing to do while you're in town is to go on a 'tapas crawl'... which involves moving from one restaurant or bar to another, enjoying a drink and a small tapa at each stop. The tapa is usually free with your drink!
What is the Mediterranean Diet?Known worldwide and appreciated for its numerous health benefits, the Mediterranean Diet is a style of eating (and living) found in cities and towns along the Mediterranean Sea.
In Nerja, the Mediterranean diet is a natural part of daily life and is prominently featured in many of Nerja's restaurants. It reflects the culture of the town and the abundance of local, fresh ingredients. When people talk about the Mediterranean diet, they are usually referring to a diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil; a moderate amount of fresh seafood, chicken and dairy products; and a low amount of red meat and sweets.
The diet also emphasizes the importance of physical activity, meal times (larger meals in the middle of the day rather than at night), and sharing meals with others.
In recent years, many people have settled in Nerja and the Costa del Sol because of the amazing health benefits of the diet and lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet is known for its healthy heart benefits, weight management, diabetes prevention and control, cancer preventing antioxidants and brain health with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
So if you haven't experienced the Mediterranean diet and way of life... why wait?
Gastronomic Festivals in NerjaAnother way to experience the culinary delights of Nerja (besides eating in one of Nerja's best restaurants 😉) is through one of the many lively festivals that take place throughout the year.
One of the most popular events in Nerja is the 'Feria', a week-long festival held in October that transforms the entire town into a gastronomic hub. The streets come alive with food stalls, live music and dancing. And Nerja's best restaurants show off their culinary skills with a range of traditional Andalusian dishes, tapas and local wines. It's the perfect time to experience the local flavors and festivities.
Another important festival is the Fiesta de San Isidro, held in May, where food plays an important role in the celebrations. This fiesta, in honor of the patron saint of farmers, includes a grand procession followed by a community feast in which Nerja's restaurants and residents contribute dishes made from traditional recipes.
Local Nerja MarketsA final way to experience Nerja's culinary scene is to visit one of the local markets, which are vital to the Nerja restaurants that pride themselves on using fresh, high quality ingredients.
These bustling markets, full of vibrant stalls, offer an array of fresh produce, meat and seafood, spices, olives, organic products, nuts, teas and much more...
You can also find amazing handicrafts and souvenirs!
Also: Check out the BEST restaurants in these nearby Costa Tropical towns...