María Alba, serving churros outside the family business in Calle La Bola. / vanessa melgar

Top tourism award after nearly 80 years of serving delicious churros

Juan Alba’s fried dough spirals are famous and not only with locals in Ronda; the establishment has also become a tourist attraction in the mountain town

VANESSA MELGAR Ronda

It would be impossible to be from Ronda, or even from one of the nearby villages, and not know about Cafetería Churrería Alba, in Carrera Espinel (also known as Calle La Bola) in the town centre. Juan Alba’s churros are famous and not only with locals; it has almost become a tourist attraction and photos of the café – and the churros – have made their way around the world.

Because of all this, Ronda council has decided to award Churrería Alba one of its tourism prizes, and the presentation will take place this Thursday, 22 September, at the Convento de Santo Domingo. Other awards are to go to Hotel Catalonia Ronda, the Sierra Aventura active tourism company and Casa Grande restaurant in Alpandeire.

Encarna, the 'churrera'

This establishment has been going for 77 years, as it was first opened in 1945 by Encarna, the mother of the present owner. She used to cook the churros herself, and her photograph still graces one of the walls. In 1955, the churrería also became a café.

Juan's mother, Encarna / SUR

Juan, who runs it now with his wife, two children and three members of staff, says his mother taught him everything he knows.

“I have been working here since I was 13; when I was about 18 or 20, when my mother died, I started making the churros,” he says, and he confides that the reason the churros are so delicious is that the oil in which they are fried is changed every day and the dough is made to the traditional recipe.

“I think my father’s experience has something to do with it, too. He has been doing this for 50 years,” says María Alba.

She and her brother plan to continue the business and maintain its traditional image. “The tiles in the room upstairs are the same, so is the counter. We have changed very little because we wanted to preserve the image,” she says.

Juan at work. / V. MELGAR

Juan sometimes makes around 350 spirals of churros a day. “In summer we are very busy, with all the tourists,” says María, while her father insists that “everything is thanks to the clients who have always come here, though, people from Ronda and the Serranía”.

The establishment is open from 8am to 4pm. "We start with the breakfasts, and we try to be able to close by 4 in the afternoon," says María.