Restaurante El Picadero, Torrox Costa

After a recent visit to this restaurant, I thought it might be a good idea to re-post this blog entry from 2014.

It was just twelve months ago (this post was originally published in 2014) that I walked through the doors of El Picadero on Torrox Costa and it was by pure chance. We had gone down to the coast one day last springtime, to escape a cold, wet and miserable day in Cómpeta and, thankfully, we found sunshine. What we didn´t find though, was the restaurant that we wanted to go to open! El Picadero was and in we went. We had a really enjoyable lunch that day and shortly afterwards I struck up a Facebook friendship with the General Manager of the restaurant, José Sánchez Rico, better known as Pepe, and since then we have visited the restaurant on numerous occasions. I had seen a couple of old photos of El Picadero on their menu board outside and they had fascinated me. So I asked Pepe if he could tell me a little of the history of El Picadero and I said I would like to share it on my blog. Here is their story:

El Picadero in the 1970s
At the beginning of the 1970s, Manolo Rico and two partners decided to erect a chiringuito (beach bar) on the Ferrara beach at Torrox Costa and they called it ''El Picaero (El Picadero)''. Before that first season started, one of the partners pulled out leaving the other two to run the business through the summer. It was hard work and they faced some very difficult challenges, so much so that the second partner left the venture at the end of the summer and Manolo was left on his own. These were difficult times in Spain and Manolo, a single man, was living with his sister's family, facing the challenge of not knowing what to do with ''El Picadero''. He talked things over with his sister, Ana, and it was finally decided that she would help him out along with her two young sons, Paco and Pepe.
In the beginning, the family had to serve drinks from cool boxes that used bought-in blocks of ice to keep the drinks chilled. The food offering was simple, espetos de sardinas sardines cooked on skewers), salads, tortillas and little else. The work lasted for just the summer months but it was long and hard days.
Around 1973 to 1974, a German property developer bought lands at Torrox Costa and began to construct the urbanisation Bau Hoffman and in a matter of four or five years, the Torrox beaches began to fill with tourists from northern Europe, mainly Germany but Britain as well.
This was just what ''El Picadero'' needed and finally things started to improve for the family and they began to change their menu selection to offer a more international cuisine. 
''The 80s and 90s were the best years for working,'' says Pepe, (who at the time of the original posting was running the restaurante along with his brother Paco) ''Good years for us and good years for our tourists. We still had our peseta in those days,'' he adds.
''We were situated directly on the beach, on the sand itself, but then in the middle of the 1990s, they began to construct the paseo marítimo (promenade) and it was a great change for us to move from sand and on to concrete.''
The business had to adapt to this change and ''El Picadero'' converted itself into more of a restaurant and said goodbye to the days of being a merendero (open-air beach restaurant). 
Pepe and Paco now have a fine restaurant well-situated on the promenade at Torrox and they open virtually all year round. Their parents are now happily retired but Pepe sums up the success of  ''El Picadero'' with this tribute.
''My mother, Ana Rico, the greatest cook, is the one that we have learned everything from.''

Many thanks to Pepe for sharing these photos with me and for allowing me to use them on the blog.

Left to Right: Pepe, Paco and waiter Andres
Habas con jamón

Our most recent visit was on another fairly miserable day. It started a little disappointingly as two of our party ordered stuffed piquillo peppers but, after having ordered them, we were then informed that they were not available that day. As changes had to be made to our order, this lead to some confusion and when it came to the starters coming out, one was delayed by quite sometime. This was a slip that I'm sure Pepe and his team will work on to ensure it does not happen again in the future.

Rape a la  Marinera
That aside, though, I did have a very good meal. For starters I chose one of my favourite dishes, habas con jamón, broad beans and serrano ham. They do this very well at El Picadero and it is a good sized portion as well, one that could be easily shared as part of a starter selection. For main course I chose the rape a la marinera, a monkfish stew made with clams and mussels. This was absolutely delicious with all the flavours of the sea. I have always chosen the fritura malagueña when I have been to El Picadero in the past but this time decided to go for a change and was really glad that I did.
  El Picadero is open six days a week, closed on Wednesdays, but during July and August it is open seven days a week. It is situated on the seafront at Torrox Costa with great views of the sea.

El Picadero
Paseo Maritimo, 8
Torrox Costa
Tel. 952 53 27 96
Open 12.30 to 11.00pm
Closed Wednesdays except July and August.