Spanish food culture is one of the most renowned aspects of Spain’s enviable lifestyle. The country had 232 restaurants with at least one star in the 2019 Michelin Guide, most of them offering culinary delicacies that are significantly different from the rest of Europe. Lunch tends to be the most important meal of the day, often extending into long hours of talking, gossiping, drinking and sorting the world out after the actual eating is finished. The Spaniards have a name for this: “sobremesa“, roughly translating as “table talk” or “after-dinner conversation”.
Travellers are spoilt for choice, from delicious tapas to grilled fish served almost straight from the boat – or a cheap “menu del día” (“menu of the day”) available on just about every street corner and beachfront throughout Spain.
For this guide, however, we have sourced 12 top restaurants in the area that were listed in the 2019 Michelin Guide. They range from a two-star restaurant in El Palmar to an innovative fusion tapas bar in Molino del Seguro. They are all well worth going the extra mile to experience, because what they have in common is an intense and compelling passion for food – and a desire to share that passion with discerning diners.
Chef Pablo González and his team reign supreme at this restaurant nestled between Murcia city and the El Valle y Carrascoy regional park. The ambience, chef’s personality and exceptionally crafted dishes and wine list earned the restaurant its first Michelin star in 2010, followed by a second in 2017. Every detail of this charming restaurant makes a visit to Cabaña Buenavista a wonderful experience.
Where: Urbanisation Buenavista, 30120 El Palmar
Reservations: +34 968 889 006
This family-run restaurant in the centre of Murcia city was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction for serving honest, high-quality food at a reasonable price. Chef David Muñoz followed in the footsteps of his father.
Where: Calle Andrés Baquero 15, 30001 Murcia
Reservations: +34 968 232 323
Restaurante Juan Moreno
Also awarded a Bib Gourmand distinction for skilfully blending modern and traditional cooking, chef Juan Moreno’s restaurant is close to the bullring in Vera own. It offers well-priced, pleasantly-themed menus, with different wine options.
Where: Ctra. de Ronda 3, 04620 Vera
Reservations: +34 950 393 051
Restaurante Juan Mari
Close to the salt flats in San Pedro del Pinatar, just outside the town centre, chef Juan Mari and his family concoct the most delicious dishes with locally-farmed rice, vegetables and fish. His restaurant was honoured for the 10th consecutive year with a recommendation in the 2019 Michelin Guide, the last few years with a Bib Gourmand award.
Where: Avda. Emilio Castelar 113, 30740 San Pedro del Pinatar
Reservations: +34 968 186 298
This elegant and modern restaurant serves creative and contemporary dishes accompanied by a wide variety of excellent wines. It is located in an apartment building near the Mar Menor and run by chef José Fuentes and his team. Don’t be deceived by the drab exterior, as it does not represent the quality of the food and service on offer. The restaurant has been awarded a Bib Gourmand distinction.
Where: Calle Julieta Orbaiceta 6, Playa Honda, 30385 Cartagena
Reservations: +34 968 145 073
Restaurante El Sordo
In the heart of the Ricote Valley is chef Jesús Ortega’s attractive, family-run restaurant. They serve good-tasting traditional cuisine with mostly locally grown products (including game when it is in season), and they have an excellent wine cellar. Enough reason to honour El Sordo with a Bib Gourmand distinction.
Where: Avda. Alharbona, 30610 Ricote
Reservations: +34 968 697 150
Restaurante La Cerdanya
La Cerdanya is a small restaurant with a rustic, family ambience, located in the Los Dolores area of Cartagena. Chef Juan Regis Espinosa has become quite famous for his stews, prepared slowly in the traditional way, ensuring that the traditional Catalan cuisine is full of flavour. There are only five tables available at the Bib Gourmand restaurant, so reservations are recommended.
Where: Subida al Plan 5, 30310 Los Dolores, Cartagena
Reservations: +34 968 311 578
The modern Magoga restaurant is located in the old part of town, near the remains of the Roman Forum District. Sommelier and head waiter Adrián De Marcos and young chef Maria Gómez, both educated at prestigious institutes in San Sebastián, run the restaurant with great passion and ambition.
Where: Plaza Doctor Vicente Garcia Marcos 5, 30201 Cartagena
Reservations: +34 968 509 678
This family-run hotel-restaurant in the centre of Vera Playa is highly regarded and has a welcoming atmosphere, particularly in the main dining room, which is full of charm and tradition. Chef Antonio Carmona Baraza prepares contemporary and traditional dishes that are complemented with an excellent variety of wines.
Where: Del Mar 1, 04620 Vera
Reservations: +34 950 390 760
Restaurante El Albero
Run by chef Tomas Écija and his enthusiastic team, this restaurant has a solid reputation for its updated traditional cuisine with an oriental touch. It has an á la carte dining area, a bar-bodega zone for an informal menu of the day, and a terrace. Classic dishes such as cod balls (“rocas de bacalao“) and ravioli with pork from local Chato Murciano pigs are well worth trying.
Where: Calle Mallorca 10, 30562 Ceuti
Reservation: +34 868 923 400
Gastrobar La Maita
Owner-chef Tomas Écija and his brother Juan Pedro opened this trendy fusion tapas bar in summer 2013, located in an avant-garde building that combines old castle walls with large sheets of Corten Steel and concrete. La Maita serves innovative local tapas and dishes with a Japanese touch, at extremely reasonable prices.
Where: Castillo 18, 30500 Molina de Segura
Reservations: +34 968 973 607
This tastefully decorated, cosy restaurant about 10 kilometres south-west of Lorca has a contemporary dining room with capacity for 40 people, and a private dining room with 16 seats, suitable for business or family diners. The dishes are prepared with traditional flavours and an emphasis on meticulous presentation.
Where: Crta. de Granada-N-340 Km. 588, 30817 Torrecilla (Lorca)
Reservations: +34 626 277 725 (on weekdays only lunch)