MAKAI CAFE IN LA ZENIA might have only opened in 2018, but the uber-cool laid-back eatery hasn't spared any time in making a name for itself as one of the favourite casual dining venues to hit the Orihuela Costa.
The creative team took an empty and unloved commercial unit in a prime location just moments away from La Zenia's Cala Bosque beach, and designed a contemporary and welcoming dining space.
An equally fashionable menu soon followed, with a heavy focus on home-cooked healthy food for those with an aversion to alternative processed fast-food choices.
Appreciation of the importance of the occasional devilish sweet treat and an inherent love of baking soon spurned an array of accompanying glamorous desserts: layered cheesecakes, fruity mousses, and cheeky cookies fit for a gastronomic catwalk.
We visited the restaurant last week for a mid-afternoon lunch. The creative team have done an impressive job with the dining room, creating an environment that fuses Mediterranean pastel colours with tasteful decorative touches.
Makai Cafe, contemporary food in beautiful surroundings
A spacious covered terrace outside provides European cafe-style streetside seating comfortably off-road, and the street is relatively quiet with very little passing traffic.
The menu is sharply focused on the requirements of daytime diners, with a total of 48 different breakfast and lunch options – many customisable with additional items to taste and appetite.
Full English breakfasts start from €5.50 with a vegetarian option available. Omelettes, breakfast wraps, eggs with soldiers, and other staple early bites attract prices starting from €3.20.
But perhaps where Makai Cafe's menu shines most is the inventive use of simple and healthy ingredients to create unique dishes that challenge the regular concept of breakfast.
Hummus and Feta Crush, and Smashed Avocado on crusty bread sound positively gorgeous, and a range of traditional Spanish tostadas sit alongside French croissants and pancakes, and an intriguing if unconventional breakfast bowl comprised of muesli, Greek yoghurt, fruit, and honey. Yum!
Restaurant review, beautiful lunches to whet the appetite
The finely balanced lunch menu starts with paninis and wraps, offering a delectable selection served with coleslaw and crisps with prices from €4.70.
Looking for a lighter bite mid-afternoon, we chose the Fish Finger Wrap which came with French Brie and caramelised onion at a very reasonable €4.95.
Salads are superbly represented, and despite the fact that it's actually quite difficult to make a salad “interesting”, Makai Cafe has incorporated quality ingredients such as quinoa, Cajun chicken, fresh fruit, and smoked salmon to keep things enticing.
We sampled the Greek Feta Salad which was beautifully presented, colourful, and retained the gorgeous, slightly bitter tang the cheese is renowned for.
A special mention should go to the Happy Buddha Bowl at €8.50 – an appealing mix of watercress, chickpeas and fruit that we weren't quite brave enough to try, but perhaps another lunchtime.
Where can you find the perfect burger on the Orihuela Costa?
The usual accoutrements have been dismissed in favour of more extravagant ingredients including garlic mushrooms, sun-blushed tomatoes, fiery jalapenos, and scampi. Yes, scampi as a topping because … why not?
The Makai Burger signature dish adds bacon, caramelised onion, and cheese to not one but two burgers.
At €9.95 the towering stack is the most expensive burger and indeed the most costly option on the entire menu, but it should be noted that all burgers are served replete with beautifully cooked chips and a modest salad garnish.
A welcome and rarely found addition to the menu is a vegetarian burger option. The Linda McCartney branded quarter pounder burgers offer a genuine meat-free low-fat alternative to beef products, and even the most ardent carnivore would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
For €6.45 Linda comes naked, so we added optional jalapenos and goat's cheese to ensure our burger was dressed to impress. The burger arrived with a perfect cook and colour (most important on a meatless burger) and was served inside a quality bun.
La Zenia's Makai Cafe, find it close to the beach
With a sunny open terrace and an inspirational dining room, Makai Cafe provides a relaxing and informal environment to enjoy its gastronomic creations.
A focused menu offers plenty of choices, and their interpretation and elevation of staple family favourites fused with quality, innovative, and fresh ingredients, provide a refreshing and pleasantly surprising dining experience.
The venue is active on social media with a strong local and international online following and often utilises its Facebook page to showcase the cafe's stunning food.
With an excellent location en route to La Zenia beach and prices that offer truly excellent value given the high levels of presentation and table service, Makai Cafe should be on your list of places to eat at this summer. You can find Makai Cafe via this Google Map.
Looking for holiday ideas and travel inspiration? Find out more about our favourite recommended things to do on the Orihuela Costa or join the La Zenia community Facebook group and find out what's going on in the local area.