Many would rightly credit the global prominence of Spanish cuisine to such pioneering restaurants as El Bulli, Arzak and Mugaritz that first made their mark more than a decade ago, and El Celler de Can Roca near Barcelona tops the list today as the world’s best restaurant. While the Spanish Basque country and Catalonia continue as gastronomic powerhouses, Andalucía, led by Malaga province, has been on a steady rise in recent years.
This year Malaga has more new Michelin stars than any other Andalucian province, bringing the total up from five to eight in a single year, including the flagship Dani Garcia restaurant in Marbella with two stars. Andalucía now brings its total haul of Michelin stars up from twelve to fifteen, allocated across thirteen different establishments.
Here are Malaga’s new ascendant stars:
Sollo Restaurante *, Chef Diego Gallegos, Fuengirola
Although Sollo restaurant opened at its current location in Fuengirola less than a year ago, the Michelin star came as a surprise to no one (see “one to watch” from last year’s round up of “The eleven stars of Andalucian cuisine” http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2014/12/27/the-eleven-stars-of-andalusian-cuisine/ ). Named “Chef Revelación” at Madrid Fusion in 2015, Gallegos quickly made a name for himself as an innovative and somewhat rebellious chef. Born in Brazil, Gallegos brings elements of South American cooking and touches of Asian fusion to the plate. Known as “the caviar chef,” he sources caviar, sturgeon and even gallons of sturgeon blood for something akin to black pudding from the only sustainable, organic caviar farm in the world, RioFrio Caviar in Granada province. Gallegos uses only sustainably farmed fresh water fish on his menu, something he explains to each and every diner at the restaurant when he personally welcomes them in the kitchen before seating.
Autopista Costa del Sol, Salida 217
Avenida del Higueron 48, Fuengirola 29640, Malaga
Messina Restaurante *, Chef Mauricio Giovani, Marbella
Chef Giovani has been delighting diners at this restaurant near the sea in Marbella with two tasting menus for years, but has finally earned his first Michelin star. He sticks true to current Mediterranean styles but wows with a precise presentation, excellent textures and balanced, if sometimes exotic tastes. Take for example the sea urchin mi cuit with celery water or veal sweatbread with yuzu cream. Everything is not as it seems, as with the nut crusted bonbon of foie gras covered in gold leaf made to look like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Creative and experimental, especially with the widely praised selection of small starter bites, Messina may be a new staple of the Malaga Michelin scene.
Av. Severo Ochoa, 12, Marbella 29603, Malaga
Kabuki Raw *, Chef Luis Olarra, Casares
With an abundance of fresh seafood including the best tuna in the world, it makes a lot of sense that Japanese fusion has become a mainstay of Spanish Mediterranean cooking. By contrast, Kabuki Raw is more orthodox Japanese food with a Mediterranean influence. With five restaurants and a total of four Michelin stars, the Kabuki group knows fine Japanese food, and Chef Luis Olarra strengthens the brand with this newest star. As one would expect, only the finest raw materials make it into the kitchen and an onsite vegetable garden provides the accompanying organic produce. Chef Olarra is only 29 years old, but already established a reputation for fusing Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine from his native Bilbao in the Basque Country.
Carretera de Casares, S/N,
Casares 29690, Malaga
And here are Malaga’s established stars:
Dani Garcia **, Chef Dani Garcia, Marbella
The most lauded, most famous chef of Andalucía, Dani Garcia originally earned his two stars with his previous restaurant Calima, also in Marbella, and has only improved the offerings with his self titled restaurant since April, 2014. Such an established, talented chef is Garcia that some would attribute the rising prominence of the “cocina Malagueña” in part to him; his influence is undeniable. One of the best known chefs in all of Spain, Garcia has carried on in the molecular tradition of Arzak and Adria, with an ever evolving approach. The dining experience goes beyond fantastic food; it’s an engaging affair with fairy tale themes, secret keys and mystery, where the diner is part of the story. There’s all of the drama on every plate that you could hope for from a multiple starred restaurant, yet it is still the food that makes this restaurant great. As beautiful as it all is, “taste is invisible to the eye”.
Puente Romano Beach Resort, Marbella
Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, S/N, 29602, Malaga
Restaurante JCG *, Chef Jose Carlos Garcia, Malaga City
Local born chef Jose Carlos Garcia entered the ranks of Michelin starred restaurants with JCG in 2014, after previously earning a star with his restaurant Café de Paris, also in Malaga. Here delicate flavours mix with the freshest ingredients and every plate is pretty as a picture. Set in the recently developed Muelle Uno area of the Port of Malaga, the restaurant overlooks the harbour and lends the sophistication that this cosmopolitan city deserves.
Pza de la Capilla, Puerto de Malaga, 29001
Restaurante El Lago *, Diego del Rio, Marbella
“El Lago”, Spanish for “the lake” takes its name from the beautiful lakeside setting in the Elviria Hills area of Marbella. Add to the placid atmosphere an ever evolving creative cuisine, personalized service and an exclusive list of some 350 Spanish wines and El Lago well deserves its Michelin star, first awarded in 2005. Such is the commitment to development that once a year the restaurant exhibits a weeklong presentation of the latest trends in gastronomy with rotating daily menus.
Urb. Elviria Hills Avda. Las Cumbres S/N,
Marbella 29604, Malaga
Skina *, Chefs Jaume Puigdengolas & Marcos Granda, Marbella
With two head chefs, this careful collaboration was always destined for a Michelin star and has maintained this status with consistency since 2008. The dishes are distinctively Andalusian, including many local, traditional dishes presented with a creative touch and beautiful flair. Skina, located in the historic heart of Marbella, seats only fourteen diners and has the distinction of being the smallest restaurant in the world to hold a Michelin star.
C/ Aduar 12, Marbella 29601, Malaga
Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.