Feast Your Senses: Unveiling Southern Spain’s Top 10 Restaurants

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: January 11, 2024

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes


The Basques and Catalans may well disagree, but in recent years the quality of cooking in Southern Spain has risen dramatically, with chefs like Tono Perez of Atrio fame now winning pundits worldwide. Indeed, once derided as a gastronomic backwater, Southern Spanish cooking is today held in high esteem, and the region’s leading chefs now give the Basques a serious run for their money when it comes to unrestrained creativity. Moreover, the number of Michelin venues continues to rise – the legendary Atrio in Caceres is widely considered to be one of Europe’s finest restaurants, with a gargantuan wine list into the bargain!

Of course, that’s not to suggest that chefs in this beautiful part of the world are turning their backs on Southern Spain’s culinary roots. Traditionally, local cuisine was heavily influenced by the region’s Islamic heritage; the Moors introduced rice, lemons, oranges, olives, and vines as many new vegetables and spices. Today’s talented chefs make full use of this wonderful gastronomic legacy, updating age-old recipes with gusto and pizazz to create inventive combinations that are guaranteed to impress even the most cynical of food critics. However, not all the restaurants in the region make the grade. So Cellar Tours has prepared a guide to some of the most decadent, exciting, and mouth-watering destinations that visitors to Touring Southern Spain should be sampling.

Guide to Andalusian Cuisine: Read more

Que Aproveche!


Restaurant Aponiente

Aponiente website: Read more

Three Michelin-starred Aponiente is undoubtedly one of Europe’s finest seafood restaurants, a testament to the vision and incredible skill of owner Angel Leon and Head Chef Juan Luis Fernandez. Together, they have created something exceptional, a temple of molecular gastronomy that focuses not on the rarest of fish and flavors but instead champions the lesser-known varieties, such as Herring, Pollock, and ling. The setting, however, is straightforward enough – a thoroughly modern, airy, and bright dining room, where diners are offered two tasting menus dedicated to Leon’s love of seafood and a mammoth 27-course option. Fernandez’s cooking is inventive and playful, so expect delicacies like cumin oysters, marinated dogfish, and shrimp Tortillas. Moreover, the service is exceptional, polished, accommodating, and not remotely cold or stuffy. Oenophiles won’t feel disappointed either; Angel Leon has put together a carefully curated list full of both fine wines and more esoteric options from across the Spanish heartland.


Restaurant Atrio

Atrio Website: Read more

Atrio is a place that tests a gastronome’s ability to control his or her superlatives – where else in Spain could you hope to encounter such remarkable cooking paired with over two hundred pages of fine wines from across the globe. Situated in the beautiful city of Caceres, Atrio is run by master Head Chef Tono Perez, a widely considered one of Spain’s most celebrated culinary geniuses. Today, Perez offers his guests two tasting menus – traditional Atrio classics and new creations – focusing on precise, imaginative, yet not overwrought cooking that omits some of the more outlandish flavors adopted by his peers. Indeed, every dish that Perez creates is a poem, a blend of textures and flavors that are so beautifully put together they must be sampled to be believed. Divine creations such as Jamon with squid and curry sauce, careta – pork, crayfish, and duck consume – and the divine torta del casar with quince ice cream, which is an extraordinary local cheese made from sheep’s milk.

And if that wasn’t enough, Atrio boasts one of Europe’s most extensive wine cellars, stocked full of rarities, curiosities, and literally the finest (and most expensive) wines ever made. An essential stop on any visiting gastronomes journey through Southern Spain.


Restaurant Abantal

Abantal website: Read more

Welcome to Seville’s greatest restaurant – Abantal. It is run by the only chef in Seville to hold a Michelin star, Julio Fernandez Quintero, a man utterly obsessed with only using the finest, freshest ingredients to update Andalusian classics with aplomb. Yet, Quintero’s cooking is never fussy or impenetrable; on the contrary, there is a welcome, understated approach to the food and the restaurant itself, situated on a nondescript side street far from Seville’s historic center. You could start with the Iberian pork and codfish “paella,” followed by lamb neck stuffed with chards stewed and apple and fennel salad. Finish with mango cannelloni stuffed with a piece of cheese and white chocolate mousse, and lemongrass soup. And for hard-core gastrophiles, there are seven and even nine-course tasting menus with appropriate wines paired with each course. Service is professional and courteous, while the wine list is extensive and reasonably priced.


Leña Dani Garcia website: Read more

One of Andalucia’s most desirable dining locations is a coveted group of alfresco tables in a luxury hotel resort, the Puente Roman Beach Resort Marbella. The feather in the cap of the Puente Romano, Dani Garcia, is probably the region’s most glamorous restaurant, run by one of Spain’s most talented chefs. His menus are bold, playful, and innovative: Glazed crispy chicken & giant sea urchin; wild mushrooms from the Ronda Mountains; Gazpachuelo malagueño, creamy fish soup with smoked eel and grapes; Slowly stewed cuttlefish and Ras el hanout lamb muscle with kéfir are all astounding culinary creations. As you’d expect at such a high-class address, service is nigh on perfect; slick, professional, and engaging. There’s also a generously stocked wine cellar, bursting with rare vintages from across Spain and beyond.


El Figón de Eustaquio Website: Read more

A family-run restaurant that has been serving locals for decades, El Figón is full of old-fashioned Spanish charm, from the authentically vibrant and noisy atmosphere to the warm welcome from your hosts. Indeed, this is not one of Spain’s trendy new additions but a legendary favorite in Caceres, and all the better for it. The menu is robust Extremaduran fare; grilled fish and steaks are a major specialty, particularly the pork loin, and venison. A particularly moreish specialty of sausages, bacon, and fried breadcrumbs known as Migas seems to be on everyone’s top ten. Service always comes with a smile, and the wine list, although relatively short, is full of local gems at wallet-friendly prices. Moreover, there are plenty of alfresco tables for summer dining. An unpretentious gem and an incomparable way to sample one or two of the finer points of Extremaduran traditional cuisine.


Terraza las Tomasas Website: Read more

Terraza las Tomasas is surely Andalucía’s most romantic restaurant. Indeed, the views alone are worth the price of a meal; a gorgeous, whitewashed terrace with unrestricted views of Granada’s Alhambra palace ensures that las Tomasas is packed with a well-dressed clientele who come en masse in families and groups on weekends and in steady flow most weekdays. However, this gem of a restaurant doesn’t just trade on its location; the cooking is of a similarly high standard. It showcases both local classics and a smattering of international options. The varied menu might include grilled scallops with chestnut puree, grilled octopus, porcini mushroom risotto, and a mouthwatering veal sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce. And with a fantastically varied wine list and warm, friendly service, it is a small wonder that these are some of Granada’s most coveted tables.


Eslava Website: Read more

“Designer tapas” is the term most often used to describe the wonderfully bold creations at Seville’s perennially popular tapas bar. This is no ordinary Andalusian hole in the wall; its owners have turned a historical culinary tradition into exquisite and innovative little portions exploding with flavor. This is one of Seville’s most fashionable tapas bars – while others might be happily low-key and good quality, this place is pushing the boundaries on all sides. Some of the delicious creations include yema and foie gras, marinated sardines with aubergine and yogurt, or carpaccio with spinach, artichokes, and Manchego cheese. The great choice of Sherry by the glass and fine service add up to a truly five-star experience.


Modesto Website: Read more

There’s nothing modest about the welcome you’ll receive at Restaurante Modesto, undoubtedly one of Seville’s most friendly and vibrant destinations, an institution in its own right. Locals flock to the expansive ground floor bar to quaff Sherry and tapas, while the first floor houses a majestic dining room, complete with the traditional Andalusian interior. However, the cooking at Modesto is removed from the avant-garde of Basque molecular gastronomy and lacks a hint of pretension. But this is probably all to the good for Modesto, an inviting restaurant that has earned its place in the hearts of both locals and tourists who venture here for the honest, no-frills cooking and fantastic atmosphere. Top choices include the freshest seafood, with the Marqués de Villalúa clams being a particular highlight. Or, try the grilled milk-fed lamb chops, reputedly some of the best in Seville! But whatever you order, when your food arrives, you can be sure it will be fresh and hearty – a genuine celebration of life’s good things.


Casa Manolete Bistro website: Read more

At La Casa Manolete Bistro, you can expect a menu that showcases the flavors of Andalusia and pays tribute to the region’s culinary traditions. The talented chefs curate a selection of delectable dishes using locally sourced ingredients, ensuring freshness and authenticity in every bite. From traditional Spanish tapas to innovative creations, the menu offers diverse options to satisfy every palate, including traditional favorites like Salmorejo (cold soup), Alcachofas (Artichokes), Pulpo (Octopuss), Rabo de toro (Bull’s tail). The bistro’s warm and inviting atmosphere and its elegant décor create a welcoming space for diners to relax and enjoy their meals. In addition, the staff at La Casa Manolete Bistro are known for their attentive and friendly service, adding to the overall dining experience. In addition to its culinary delights, La Casa Manolete Bistro also boasts an extensive wine list featuring a variety of regional and international wines.


La Moneda Website: Read more

Fresh seafood, in all its majestic forms, is the specialty at this charming family-run establishment, run by José Luís Inchausti. La Moneda made a massive splash when it opened in 1991, and today continues to attract a loyal clientele who come for the finest prawns, turbot, and oysters around. The décor is simple, the ambiance lively, and the staff friendly – what’s not to like? The daily blackboard specials might feature salt-baked langoustines, grilled turbot, monkfish casserole, and swordfish in Manzanilla or sea bream in a salt crust. Seafood lovers’ paradise indeed!


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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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