File image of the espetos being grilled at the Dorada de Plata in Almuñécar. Javier Martín
Popular beach bar forced to close due to complaint over smoke from famous grilled sardines
Food and drink

Popular beach bar forced to close due to complaint over smoke from famous grilled sardines

A ‘chiringuito’ on the south coast of Spain has had its ‘espeto’ cooking boat sealed off and witnessed a 90 per cent drop in trade leading to staff redundancies

Pilar García-Trevijano


Wednesday, 25 October 2023

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One of the most iconic sights along the Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical in summer is the dug-out boats belonging to traditional beach bars or ‘chiringuitos’ in which ‘espetos’ – sardine skewers are grilled in open fires. However, in Almuñécar-la Herradura, complaints from local residents and visitors about the smoke and embers that the boats create has led to one having to temporarily close and make staff redundant.

The issue has been causing unease among the town's beach bars since 2019 when the council issued a number of warnings to local 'chiringuitos' about limiting the amount of smoke and smells that the boats produce.

Following a complaint from a tenant in a property on Almuñécar’s San Cristóbal promenade Almuñécar-La Herradura town hall has closed the 'espeto' boat at the Dorada de Plata chiringuito, one of the most emblematic establishments on the Granada coastline, it has even appeared in Forbes magazine as one of the best beach bars in Spain. This decision has angered the owner, who has temporarily closed the establishment as he is unable to use the barbecue boat to grill the fish.

According to the town hall the decision was taken at the last council meeting where the Local Police were ordered to seal the boat and start a case against the 'chiringuito', a process which had to be processed because of a complaint from a private individual. The council has asked the owner to solve the smoke problem with corrective measures such as extractor hoods over the boat.

A tradition dating back to 1966

This is not the first time a chiringuito has been ordered to stop using its ‘espeto’ boat. The town hall also received complaints about the Puerta del Mar 'chiringuito' and they were also ordered to solve the smoke problem.

The owner of La Dorada de Plata says that it has been grilling sardines in its boat since 1966 and that now 18 people have lost their jobs as customer numbers have fallen by 90 per cent. “We can't continue the activity,” said Francisco Mingorance, 58, from the 'chiringuito'.

"There are more than 400 homes on San Cristóbal beach and they sealed my boat because of the complaint of one resident," Mingorance said. He claims that the person who lodged the complaint lives in the Mariote building, located 67 metres from the 'chiringuito' and his flat does not overlook the promenade.

"I don't understand how he can be bothered by the smoke from so far away and above all how they have identified it as mine when there are many other restaurants in the area. I don't understand why I am the only one who has to take action," he pointed out and added that he has got his lawyer involved.

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