These pictures are old. About four months old. Which makes it a bit ridiculous that I’m only writing about this place now but it’s one of my favourite restaurants, if not my ultimate favourite! Perhaps that’s why I’ve put this off for so long..when writing about a place that you really love, you want to do it justice. That and it’s in Benahavís, which is a popular enough area for a break away in spring, so some might be impressed by my forward thinking and preparation. Estepona and Ronda holiday goers, this is for you!
Los Abanicos is a restaurant I go back to time and time again..at this stage, it’s a ritual. Over the years, so many vivid memories were made there. So much so that it has become somewhat of an institution among family and friends.
First things first – some info on Benahavís would be nice, as well as a recommended pre-dinner ritual if you find yourself at this higher altitude.
Benahavís is a small village located in the Costa del Sol area. This secluded little town is set high in the mountains – it’s about a 30 minute drive from the city of Marbella and a little less from the coastline. Benahavís is home to some seriously good restaurants and even greater views – La Serrania de Ronda mountain range. The town itself is very pretty; bright white elegant villas overlook narrow hilly streets lined with orange trees. It’s a completely aesthetically pleasing spot. The town feels so safe and both the weather and community are consistently warm.
Each time we go, one of us drives..it’s the best option coming from Elviria. This last time we went, the driver was me! I was glad of the job. I loved the journey up the mountains. Even though I’m seriously afraid of heights, we were so close to the edge (or what seemed like very close!) I couldn’t help but look down. Driving up the side of a mountain isn’t something you get to do everyday.
We parked the car and headed for a familiar little area where the magic seems to always happen, nothing much here has changed since I was a little girl. A narrow little street (no longer than 5 or 6 parked cars) is packed with restaurants and bustling bodegas – the perfect place to enjoy some socialising and a pre-dinner aperitif.
Bodeguita is a great choice – a pokey little bar with (very short!) walls covered in knick-knacks and photos. The old school developed photographs are mostly of the owners with their friends and some feature various clientele over the years, including Brooke Shields! Random. The bar has no more than 10 seats, and while the husband and wife team serve drinks and make pinchos (croquetas, tostadas, slivers of jamón Iberico), their son looks after a host of happy customers and regulars outside. The owner (a.k.a. husband..I need to ask his name next time!) is pretty lax with drinks and free-pours fishbowls of gin and tonic (as pictured above) or whatever it is you desire.
Bodeguita also has a large dusty worn ledger on the bar, for keeping track of what I would assume is stock and their till looks fairly ancient too. If you find yourself in Benahavís, this traditional no frills bodega is worth a visit. It has a charm that’s rare to come by.
We sat at the window the last few times, plonking our drinks on the sill. The shutters are nearly always open, so you can enjoy the warm night air and hum of conversation from those dining alfresco. Aperitifs down, we make our way to Los Abanicos (meaning ‘fans’, if you’re curious!) which is right next to the Bodeguita. A mere ten steps.
Los Abanicos is as warm and inviting as restaurants get. The waiters always have time for a smile and a chat, while at the same time being incredibly efficient and quick on their feet. You can sit in or outside. If you choose inside and sit toward the back of the restaurant with the glass doors (these are open during summer) you can take in some serious mountain views. I realise the place doesn’t look too big from the pictures above but it really is – a trip to the bathroom is long and windy. You’ll catch a glimpse of the kitchen and freshly made desserts along the way.
You always start off with paté and toast, warm bread and tomato salsa before you’ve even had a chance to look at the menu. The menu never seems to change but it doesn’t need to. The variety is excellent, and even though I have tried so many dishes from this menu, it never fails to surprise me. It has something for whatever mood you’re in. Fish, seafood, lamb, steak, pork, venison..there are vegetarian options too, of course! Everything is of the highest quality and very well priced. Just be aware that portions here are on the large side, so I find being sensible with the paté and bread is always a good idea.
I start with my favourite. Isn’t she a beauty? Chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) fried in garlic and oil. Last time we went, my brother ordered this for his starter and main. He loves it that much. I think he has the right idea..it really is incredible!
My Mother ordered the prawn cocktail, which is more like a work of art I think.
I then had my favourite fish – John Dory, which is Spanish is called San Pedro. It’s a dense and meaty fish, cooked in a creamy tarragon sauce and garnished with king prawns. I have yet to finish it, and feel guilty every time when I can’t. It’s the fish closest to the texture of a fillet steak in my opinion.
Although it might look like a basic choice, the beef stroganoff at Los Abanicos is very impressive. My Mam went for this and raved about it all evening. Our mains came with a side of rice. And chips. And delicious crunchy vegetables. So it’s a lot..but we didn’t eat too much that day in anticipation! We’ve also taken things home with us in the past which have kept well for a next day balcony brunch.
Despite experiencing an almost uncomfortable John Dory induced bellyache, I can’t visit Los Abanicos without ordering their Tiramisu. I have no idea how they make their Tiramisu so light and tall without it toppling over. Trust me when I say it’s one of the better tiramisus out there (I can’t claim perfection as I’ve never been to Italy!)
If I can convince you even a little, know that it’s the only place I order Tiramisu. It’s outstanding! I’ve tried others in many other restaurants but they never quite compare.
We sat chatting to the very dapper waiters for a while before ordering espressos to finish off a perfect meal. Soon after our coffee they came with the finishing touch that they have been bringing to the table for years – mini Magum ice creams and chupitos (shots) which we politely declined. Whatever about being a glutton..making ourselves ill would be a step too far.
Content but beyond full, Mam and I reminisced on our walk back to the car, before driving home to Elviria singing along to some truly awful songs on the radio. Another Benahavís memory to add to my collection..I’m so happy it was with my fantastic Mam.
For more information on Benahavís and Los Abanicos, click here.
I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!
♥ ♥ ♥