Firstly, let me begin by saying that we get no discounts or favours from any of the listed restaurants. In some where you show our card they will give you, the client, extra attention as they know we send them people because we have confidence in their food and service.
Secondly we never recommend on the basis of personal friendship.
Thirdly, as we live here and do not eat out all the time, we are partly reliant on the confirmation of our guests that the standard is still high. Please let us know if you ever have a poor experience.
There is an ever wider choice of restaurants. Holiday-makers seem to have money for food and drink, if not to spend in the shops (many boutiques are having a difficult time).
Below is a list of my personal favourites (in the order in which they come to mind):
Where to eat in Tarifa
Pescaderia, in the Alameda, for fish and people watching. Their tuna steak is the best, and their tuna selection delicious.
Per Bacco – Italian owned/run. Opposite harbour. Very good pastas and risottos.
Occio de Sergio – Italian, just to the left of the large church San Mateo in the centre. Again good pastas but extensive alternative choice.
Mandragora, further to the left of the church and round the corner – Spanish owned and run (Manolo and Gloria, she is the cook). Excellent flavours, including Moroccan dishes. Fish tagine is good. Spacious but can therefore somewhat lack atmosphere if it is not full – more candles would help – we are going to propose this!
El Picoteo – Spanish owned/run, and the favourite of many local Spaniards. Go early (between 13.00 13.30 for lunch) to get seated. Excellent ‘home cooking’, no frills, value for money.
Varadero – go down to the harbour, turn right, pass the afore-mentioned Inti and Per Bacco and this ‘Cerveceria’ (beer cafe) is a little further. Again totally unpretentious with a roll of kitchen paper on the table to use as serviettes, their home-made Russian salad is very good (order a half portion between two, it is a lot!). All other dishes served without frills but very tasty and excellent value.
The Hurricane Hotel on the left of the main road towards Cadiz. In summer the tables are alongside the swimming pool, crisp white table clothes, candles – it looks magical. Excellent meat dishes (try the chateaubriand for two) but you may have to wait rather long.
Café Del Mar Beach – on the boulevard. The place to see and be seen. Popular with visiting Madrileños in summer as well as local Spanish and expats. Large chill-out area for your sundowner.
Chirimosa – near Dar Cilla under the arch and right. A small vegetarian restaurant and take-away (3 small tables). Very popular with Dar Cilla guests who bring their meal back onto our roof terrace where they enjoy it by candlelight looking across to Morocco. Very good value and flavours.
El Mirlo – superb location and lovely (short) drive to get there. Totally Spanish family owned and family run, with superb views out to sea. Home cooked food. Gets very crowded (largely Spanish) so do go early (for lunch go at 13.15 – they start serving at 13.30 – the Spanish come as from 14.00. Large parking gets very full. Turn off Cadiz road N 340 to El Paloma and continue between the encroaching dunes, following the signs to El Mirlo (the blackbird).
Tapas bars – so many! Nearly all are good. I name but a few ....
Los Mellis (means ‘twins’ – each twin has his own bar); one of the oldest bars in Tarifa; noisy, crowded, good atmosphere and very popular with locals and visitors alike.
Lola – eat at the bar, also tables inside and outside on the square. Excellent tapas – try the ‘ensaladilla de langostinos’ and the croquetas de espinaca’. Very good and fast service.
An’ Curro (next door to dar Cilla). For the best ham in town and renowned for his solomillo steak and tomatoes with rocquefort.
El Frances – bang in the centre of town. Small, crowded bar, some ten tables outside. Excellent tapas ( a montadito with lomo - a small bread roll with steak – stills the hunger pangs). Fast service – when you get their attention.
There are many other new bars opening all the time. Please tell me your favourite discovery.
Breakfasts – very easy walking distance from Dar Cilla.
Cafe Azul – right of the traffic lights on the main road going out of town. Very popular, gets crowded after 9.30. Good coffee, large bowls of muesli and fruit. English breakfast if desired.
Delicatessen – just down the hill from Dar Cilla direction the church. Tables on square as from 100 – 10.30 but also a small pleasant interior area if too much wind. Tasty dishes, good coffee and fresh orange juice (and a good selection of olive oils).
Morilla. On the corner opposite the church. Very Spanish. Very friendly. Fast service. Fresh tomato for on your toast – a typical Spanish breakfast there would be ‘un mollete (soft toasted bread) con aciete (with olive oil) y tomate (fresh tomato, crushed ready to pour). My grandson swears by their fried eggs and bacon!
Cafe Central – known to all and sundry, always full. A general meeting place for all nationalities.
Wet – as you go out of Tarifa, heading for the beach, passing Mercadona supermarket, on to the main road where you turn left in the direction of Cadiz, it is on your right. Easy parking, spacious gardens, large, low tables, excellent breakfasts. Ideal to go there if you are leaving to get to the beach early.
Lunch – go to one of the many beach restaurants/bars/chiringitos. All are on the left as you go out on the main road in the direction of Cadiz.
Try Hurricane – buffet style lunch at beach;Valdevaqueros (same owner, same buffet style lunch); and a little further along opposite Camping Tarifa 2 is Tangana/Spin Out, Long blue communal tables, excellent. A ‘fun’ atmosphere, everyone in swim suits, sarongs etc.
TAKE GREAT CARE IN TURNING LEFT OFF THE MAIN ROAD – respect all signs forbidding left turn, do not cross the solid white line, and continue to where you can turn right to go left. This is a very dangerous road in high season. Parking at all these places is very full unless you beat the madding crowd and go early (11 - 12.00).
There are some great places outside Tarifa, including Bolonia and in Vejer, but ask us about these because my list is getting far too long.
Note: many of these restaurants close in the winter, or only work a number of days per week. Others are only open at weekends. Others open and shut when they feel like it. Consult us and we shall endeavour to tell you where to go when.
However, I just want to mention a great Venta – El Nene: Again on the N.340, take the second turning off to your right to Facina. Their meat (try Secreto Iberico) is so good, it will have you going back for more.