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An Accidentally Excellent Evening in Marbella, with Tapas, Sangria, and a Sardine Festival

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old district of MarbellaWe were walking around in the old district of Marbella, when my good friend, Paul, became cranky. His girlfriend told us it was a sure sign of low blood sugar, and only a great meal of Tapas would fix the issue. We ran into a local lady, who was closing up her shop. She said to get out of the tourist restaurants of Old Town, and head towards the sea. A few right and left and straights, and we should find a “hole in the wall” tapas place called Santiago. Paul said he would make it without turning into a hypoglycemic monster, so we turned our nose towards the salty waters and kept walking. This is the story of how we ended up with some fantastic tapas, plenty of sangria, and all at a cheap price.

There were 4 of us, and our combined Spanish was poor, at best, but we felt as if we could find this place. It was our destiny. After all, the recommendation and directions were given by a local. We were mixing with the locals J As we got closer to the sea, it became evident that we had no clue where we were or what we were looking for. We had picked up the name of the restaurant, Santiago, and that it was near a big park, located below a garden. What would possibly go wrong? Well, we couldn’t find either the park of the garden, so we asked another local, who gave us a ton of directions (metric ton of course) in Spanish, but we really only picked up that we were very close, and that the park was 1 block away. Having expected to see a small hole in the wall, the sight of white linen cloth tables, 3 types of wine glasses, and a server that was spotless, was very surprising. It was also on the ocean front boardwalk. Not exactly the non-tourist area we were thinking. But above the entrance it read “Santiago”, so we had to be at the right place. We were given a table for 4, menus, and time to look it all over. A pitcher of sangria had become the norm, so we ordered one right away. We really wished we hadn’t done so when we saw the menu. They had no tapas section, and main courses started around 18 euros and went up to 80 euros.  We figured that perhaps we had been given the wrong menu, but that was not the case. We asked the server if they had tapas, and he pointed to one or two items on the menu that were of smaller portions. He then went off and chatted with another server. They later came back and asked if we had any questions. We explained our confusion, and that we had been sent here by a local, for tapas. A light bulb went off for one of the servers, and he told us that there was another restaurant, around the corner, that only served Tapas. It was called “La Taberna de Santiago” (Santiago’s Tavern), and it is somehow related to the other Santiago restaurant, as we didn’t have to pay for the sangria and it was transferred to our new destination for us. Good service!

La Tabera de SantiagoHere, at the correct Santiago restaurant, we found what we were looking for: at least 20 different types of tapas, on easy to understand menus, with a maximum price per item of around 7 euros. Not too bad! Our server quickly understood that our Spanish was limited, and invited us in to see the tapas. He described each dish on the menu and pointed them out in the line of dishes in front of him. We skipped by the tapas that he described the portion of the animal it was made from, by pointing to his stomach. Intestines might be delicious, but not exactly what we were craving. We ordered about 10 different dishes, from vegetarian lentil soups to sardines and skewers. Another 3 or 4 pitchers of sangria later, and we were the happiest diners in town. The bill came, and it was under 80 euros, for all the drinks and all the food. Very good value!   

We lefbaby bottle at bart the restaurant and headed to Shiraz Lounge by the water. There was a lady there, with a baby bottle, a baby, and a toddler. It looked too funny so we snapped a photo of her table. After a few tasty mojitos we left and headed towards our ride home. On the way we saw hundreds of people lining up for a beach BBQ. It just so happened to be that we had arrived on the one day per year when they have a tourism festival called “Moraga Popular”.  Served fresh are thousands of sardines on skewers, known as espetos, grilled on the side of an open flame fire pit. There was also a band playing traditional music, backing a singer with a fantastic voice, and a chance to practice your flamenco. This year, in 2012, the festival was September 13th. Once I know when it is for next year I will be sure to keep you posted.

sardine festival in marbella

After all of this we went home, without ever really getting to take a good look at Marbella’s old town. That will have to be covered on our next trip, and you know you will get another posting when the time comes.


Contact us if you have any questions about visiting La Cala de Mijas, Mijas Costa, or for staying in one of our beautiful homes.

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Guest Saturday, 16 December 2017

Welcome to our Homes


Thank you for your interest in our Two Vacation Rentals in La Cala de Mijas, Spain. Both are in the same complex, have private Jacuzzis on the terrace, 28000 square meters of Sub-Tropical gardens, 2 saltwater Swimming Pools, and all within walking distance to the beach!

About Us

about us

Sophie and Einar are the proud owners of Spanish Vacation Rental's 2 holiday homes in La Cala de Mijas. They are born and raised in Scandinavia, but currently reside in the US. 

Where are we?

la cala de mijas1

Our 2 Vacation Rental homes are located in La Cala de Mijas on Costa del Sol in southern Spain. La Cala is an old fishing village, with tons of charm, cobblestone streets, Moore ruins, an excellent "Blue Flag"-rated Beach and Restaurants from around the world