PokerStars Festival Marbella: Off the beaten path on the Marbella food trail
The second European leg of this season's PokerStars Festival touches down in Marbella between June 19 and June 25 - and this chic destination in Southern Spain promises to be a real treat for visiting poker players.
Situated between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar, and overlooked by the stunning Sierra Blanca mountains, sun-soaked Marbella has for decades been a popular hangout for the rich and famous.
Fortunately, though, you don't need to be a Russian oligarch or own a Swiss investment bank to buy in to the tournaments at PokerStars Festival Marbella as all the events suit those players with more modest bankrolls.
Hosted at Casino Marbella, the €1,100 Texas hold'em Main Event with a €700,000 guarantee kicks off on June 21 and is followed by the €2,200 High Roller with a guaranteed prize pool of €200,000.
The beautiful setting for PokerStars Festival Marbella
For those looking for even less expensive action, the PokerStars MEGASTACK on June 19 costs just €170 to enter, while the Super Deepstack Estrellas Edition on June 25 has a wallet-friendly entry fee of just €170.
There is also a €550 Sunday Hyperturbo and the Marbella Poker Cup with a €100,000 guarantee for a buy-in of just €330. You can book your seat for the Main Event by buying in directly or by qualifying via one of many online satellites PokerStars has running right now.
Food for thought
If you like fish, Marbella is the place for you
When not grinding at the tables, lounging on the beach or indulging in Marbella's famous nightlife, you'll need to refuel on some local cuisine.
And with Casino Marbella perfectly located in the city and just a stone's throw from the beach, you won't be short of dining options.
Marbella boasts hundreds of restaurants, including a smattering of Michelin-starred establishments, as well as more than its fair share of fish restaurants offering locally caught fresh marisco, or seafood.
In fact, this Andalusian city is a seafood lover's paradise.
But whatever your dining preferences - whether seafood, tapas, paella or international cuisine - you'll be spoiled for choice here. So in order to whet your appetite ahead of the PokerStars Festival Marbella, we have trawled the city to uncover the best restaurants serving up some of the tastiest culinary options.
You won't always find these establishments in the usual guidebooks or on tourist websites and, more importantly, these places won't break the bank. It's quality food off the beaten track at rock-bottom prices.
What's not to love about that?
Taberna Tierr Aranda
Signature dish: Tapas
Reason to go: Handily located in the charming Old Town, this compact and authentic tavern attracts a mix of locals and tourists. The mouth-watering tapas, priced at just €2 or €3, resemble works of art. Also, try the delicious lamb cutlets.
Chiringuito El Cable
Signature dish: Seafood
Reason to go: This eatery's prime location on the beach at Playa El Cable with its large terrace is a perfect spot to unwind and partake in a bit of people watching. Chiringuito El Cable is also a great restaurant to take a large group of friends.
Signature dish: All of the dishes are special
Reason to go: Especially popular with the locals, this place serves up simple, traditional Spanish food using locally sourced ingredients. The portions are on the large side, too, so you shouldn't leave hungry. Spanish speakers will know Los Pacos means 'The Alpacas,' but don't worry, there aren't any cute, llama-like animals on the menu.
Sede Los Compadres
Signature dish: Any of the grilled meats
Reason to go: Located at the town's football stadium this is the place to go if you want to eat quality meat (they also have chicken and fish). All the tables are outside and all the food is cooked on a large charcoal BBQ.
This establishment serves massive portions at decent prices, making it very popular on weekends.
Come for the poker, stay for the fish
With Marbella being on the Costa del Sol, you're going to want to sink your teeth into some pescaíto frito, or fried fish, which are traditional dishes from the Southern coast of Spain.
Here are a few of our personal favourite restaurants to sample this and pescado fresco (fresh fish).
Signature dish: Calamari a la plancha
Reason to go: Located on the boundary of the Old Town, Bar California serves up some of the finest Spanish fish dishes in Marbella - all in unpretentious surroundings. It's all about the food here rather than the aesthetics.
Signature dish: Pescaíto frito
Here fishy, fishy!
Reason to go: If you're after a wide array of delicious seafood options at reasonable prices, then look no further than this unassuming restaurant near the football stadium. It also has a great selection of wines to choose from. The staff are very friendly and attentive.
Bar Los Pescadores
Signature dish: Espetos de sardina
Reason to go: Bar Los Pescadores has received glowing reviews on Facebook - and for good reason. With a wonderful setting in the heart of the fishing port, it's perfect for a relaxing stroll on the sea promenade when you finish your meal.
Italian options to savour
If you're craving pizza or pasta, try these two budget-friendly options:
Pizzería en Marbella
Signature dish: Chimichurri - 'pizza with everything'
Reason to go: The pizzas here are delicious and very reasonably priced at €9 or less. If you don't fancy pizza, Pizzería en Marbella also serves tasty soups, pastas and meat dishes.
Pizzería la Estrellita
Signature dish: Barbacoa - tomato, cheese, bacon and bolognaise sauce pizza
Reason to go: Pizzería la Estrellita has been serving up traditional Italian food since 1998 for ridiculously cheap prices. Pizzas will set you back between €4.50 and €7. Bargain! The pasta dishes are just as reasonably priced and equally as tasty.
So there you have it. We hope this overview has provided you with a flavour of what you can expect to find food-wise in Marbella.
This city is renowned for being a real gastronomic treat, but as we have demonstrated with our shortlist, you don't need to shell out eye-popping sums to enjoy local and authentic cuisine that tastes great.
Bon appétit, or as they say in Spain, disfrute de su comida.