Southern Spain: A Seafood Paradise

Seafood paella with prawns and mussels

When you first think of Spain, it might be sun, sangria and siestas that spring to mind. However, in my opinion, one of the main attractions for visiting this sun-drenched European country is the food. Spanish people are passionate about what they eat, from the much-loved tapas found in bars all over the country to the large paellas cooked in traditional paelleras. The country has almost 5,000 km of coastline and so, seafood features prominently on every menu. While you can find the tasty fruta del mar wherever you travel, here we’ll look at the unique quality of the dishes found in Southern Spain.

Fresh calamari for sale

Seafood Market in Japan by Alex Knight CC0

Gibraltar

You will find Gibraltar at Spain’s southern-most tip of Europe, just nine sea miles away from the land of Africa. The proximity of these two continents has influenced the flavors and dishes found in this tiny place, introducing Moroccan spices to the blend of traditional British and Spanish cuisine most commonly eaten in Gibraltar. Grille53 is a relatively new enterprise in Marina Bay, serving high-quality scallops, prawns, octopus and more at an affordable price. Then just along the quayside, you’ll find The Landings, a popular luxury restaurant with a broad array of expertly cooked seafood on offer. Surrounded by the sea, you can’t help but find freshly caught seafood in this town.

Salted fish

Photo by Hoan Vo CC0

Marbella

Marbella is a city filled with delight. From the luxury yachts in the harbor to the miles of white sandy beaches to the exclusive parties and poker tournaments held there, it screams of good fun and good taste. This atmosphere extends into Marbella’s cuisine, with plenty of fantastic eateries to choose from and tasty seafood always the dish of the day. Head to Chiringuito El Cable for a spot of people watching on the beach while you enjoy their delectable seafood paella. Or seek out Bar California for the best pescaíto frito (fried fish) around before strolling down to watch the waves crashing onto the perfect sandy shore.

Freshly caught fish

Flying Fishes on the Ground by Erwan Hesry CC0

Málaga

The city of Málaga is a hustling, bustling place filled with plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and other eateries. But if you journey just a few miles up the coast, you’ll come to the province of Pedregalejo. This small fishing village is the real deal when it comes to fresh fish, traditional recipes and an authentic atmosphere. Each restaurant has a specialty, and all of them are well worth trying at least once! I’d recommend making a day of it and trying to sample as much as you can. Back in the big city, you’ll find fresh and tasty seafood everywhere from the casual Freidura Chupytira to the simple delights of Puro Pescaíto. The vibrant color of the environment is more than matched by the choice of dishes on offer, and you’ll find the chefs passionate and enthusiastic about their work.

The perfect seafood paella

Seafood Paella by Kaitlin Dowis CC0

Almería

Heading further up the coast, you’ll come to the smaller town of Almería. Upon arriving, you might think you’ve stumbled upon an old Hollywood film set, dressed to film the latest Clint Eastwood Western. Well, it may look reminiscent of the USA, but the food here is 100 percent Andalucían. The town’s oldest bar Casa Puga still serves delicious grilled prawns where Restaurante Isleta del Moro condenses four family’s worth of cooking knowledge into its menu, specializing in cuajadera and paella both. Not to be missed! It may not be an established destination for the tourist in Spain, but it should make your tour around the South on the hunt for the best seafood.

With so much to learn about Spanish cuisine, you’re sure to be enlightened by the time you return home. The joy and pleasure found in food are celebrated throughout Spain, but it’s in the South where the “fruits of the sea” come into their own. How could they not with the Mediterranean right on the doorstep?

Featured photo: Food by Ting Tian CC0

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