Eating in Malaga is a tricky thing.
On the one hand, you have amazing, authentic tapas bars crowded with old Spanish men who seem like they’ve been there for an eternity.
But these places are wedged between Irish pubs, tacky pizzerias, and weird restaurants serving “authentic Mexican and Indian cuisine”. (I shit you not, I really saw that. How is it even possible to do both of those things?)
But you need to look past the thronging crowds of sunburnt cruise-goers and British teenagers screaming at their tired parents. Like some sort of enchanted Harry Potter house, you want to find the places hidden in plain sight. These are the spots that make Malaga a foodie’s dream.
So, where do you find these lost places? Luckily, I’ve got you sorted with my ultimate foodie guide to where to eat in Malaga. Let’s dive in!
Breakfast in Malaga: How to eat a Smurf
Breakfast is one of my favourite parts of the day in Spain. It’s later than you might think (office workers will take a 30-minute break for their brekky around 10.30am), but well worth the wait.
Like most places in the country, Malaga breakfasts aren’t what you’re used to. There are no eggs, avocado, or acai bowls here! (And it’s the better for it!)
Instead, you get good, hearty fuel to get you through the day! Fuel such as Smurfs.
Don’t be surprised when you see pitufos (literally: “Smurfs”) on breakfast menus throughout Malaga.
There’s nothing blue or cartoonish about this classic breakfast sandwich, but its cute size might be the cause of the strange name. Take a small bread roll, add the classic Spanish olive oil, tomato puree, and Iberian ham, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a breakfast item!
If you want to get even more adventurous, why not top your toast with zurrapa? A Malaga speciality, zurrapa is juicy pork loin cooked in lard spiced with wild herbs and smoky Spanish paprika. Tastes like a heart attack, but in the best way possible.
Where to eat Churros in Malaga
Don’t be fooled into thinking that churros are dessert. That’s crazy talk.
Ask a local if they want to grab these fried sticks of dough for dessert and they’ll look at you with confusion and concern for your health and life choices. Let’s get it straight: Spanish churros are breakfast, maybe afternoon tea.
And Malaga is known for its own unique shape of churro: the tejeringo. These long cylinders of carbs and fat are brutally delicious (or is that deliciously brutal?). Kind of worryingly, they’re also named after the syringe tool used to inject the dough into the oil.
The shape of the dough extruded from a syringe (jeringuilla in Spanish) gives the Malaga churro its iconic shape! Dip it in coffee, chocolate, or plain sugar for a breakfast bonanza.
Where to eat breakfast in Malaga:
- Café Central (Plaza de la Constitución, 11). Your classic old man bar in Malaga. Very popular among tourists, but get there on weekdays between 10.30 and 11.30am for a more local feel.
- Recyclo Bike Café (Plaza Enrique García-Herrera, 16). That old combo of hipster cafe meets bike repair store—you know the one. Trendier feel, but good classic brekky offerings!
- La Recova (Pasaje Nuestra Sra. de Los Dolores de San Juan, 5). No choices here, you get the same as everyone else! Rocket fuel coffee alongside toasts with a smorgasbord of spreads, including zurrapa!
- Casa Aranda (Calle Herrería del Rey, 3). This is THE place for churros in Malaga. It’s a huge place, but be prepared to wait for a table on weekends.
- Los Valle (Calle Cuarteles, 54). Super local, super cheap, and a great spot to try tejeringos.
Finding the Best Coffee in Malaga
If you’re anything like me, coffee is the winged demon that sits on your shoulder. But it’s also the angel, too.
No day is complete without a cup of black gold, which means tracking down good coffee is the top of my to-do list for any city. Most bars in Malaga will serve the typical burnt jet fuel that is most Spanish coffee.
But if you’re looking for some delicious craft coffee, then you need these tips.
Specialty coffee in Malaga:
- Mia coffee shop (Plaza de Los Mártires Ciriaco y Paula, 4). Hole-in-the-wall coffee shop with a variety of pour-over and espresso options.
- Cafeteria Bertani Café (Calle San Juan, 40). Closer to the centre of town, and with some classic breakfast items too!
- Kima Coffee (Avenida de Carlos Haya, 48). Trust me, it’s worth the hike. It might be far from the centre, but Kima makes up for it with delicious coffee beans that they roast themselves.
Best Tapas in Malaga: What to eat (and where to go)!
Like anywhere in Spain, Malaga has its own list of famous dishes that you can’t find anywhere else. So, avoid the microwaved paella and patatas bravas made with ketchup—and go straight for these local bad boys!
But before we get started, a note on tapas. On menus in Malaga, you’ll see that “tapas” are the smallest size of dishes, behind raciones (big boys) and media raciones (medium boys).
You can order any of the dishes I’ll talk about in any of the sizes, but to me, tapas is also a way of eating. It’s that idea of going out and socialising over small plates of shared food—and these are the dishes you’ll see locals ordering!
What else! Fried seafood is what Malaga is known for, and for good reason. This city devours the fruits of the sea with gusto, and has a huge array of different ways of frying them up.
Boquerones are an essential part of any day in Malaga. These butterflied, breaded and fried anchovies are worlds away from the salt-bombs you put on pizza, and go down a treat with a cold beer in hand.
You’ll also want to try an espeto de sardinas. Chuck some fresh, meaty sardines onto a skewer and grill them over an open flame (ideally a pit of coals on a Malaga beach) and you have one cracking dish! Locals go nuts for these massive sardines, and you probably will too!
And if you find yourself in the city’s main food market, don’t miss out on the fresh skewers of grilled monkfish with a Mozarabic marinade. The Atarazanas market is a feast for all the senses, and the bar inside the doorway serves up some of the freshest seafood in town, straight from the market!
What do you get when you combine salted cod, oranges, raw onion, olives, and potato? An ensalada malagueña, and pure Andalusian bliss!
It might sound like a hot mess, but this cold salad is delicious. There’s nothing as refreshing as this pure-Malaga summer dish, and you’ll find it in most traditional bars in the city.
Like all the best dishes from around the Mediterranean, it’s simple, light, healthy and surprisingly full of flavour!
Spain is the kingdom of cold soups. Aside from the famous gazpacho, you’ll find that Andalusia has plenty of refreshing, thirst-quenching and summer-busting dishes to offer!
While every city has its own speciality, Malaga is most famous for ajoblanco. This chilled soup of garlic, almonds, and olive oil is tastier than it sounds, and an absolute lifesaver on hot days.
Garnish it with fresh grapes and roast almonds for a full-on flavour explosion.
Speaking of almonds, don’t forget to eat them whole as well as in soup form!
Malaga is famous for its almonds, and the fields around the city glow with the blossoms of almond trees every spring. You’ll find them served alongside drinks as a quick and tasty tapa, as well as by the kilo in local food markets!
The Marcona variety is most prized, and its lightly oily, salty, and toasty flavour will make you question why you’d ever need to eat anything that’s not this.
Hit up the jaw-dropping Atarazanas food market in the city centre for the freshest almonds and as many free samples as you can get away with!
Where to eat in Malaga:
- Restaurante Mesón Antonio (Calle Fernando de Lesseps, 7). An old-school bar adored by local families, hidden in the backstreets of the city centre.
- Restaurante Mesón Mariano (Calle Granados, 2). Classic plates served in a sit-down restaurant. Super popular with locals, so reserve or get there early to get a table!
- Marisquería Casa Vicente (Calle Comisario, 2). It’s all seafood, all day. Enough said!
- Garum Casual (Calle Alcazabilla, 1). At the foot of the castle, this one is a little more pricey and a little more touristy, but worth it for the seafood.
- Atarazanas Food Market (Calle Atarazanas, 10). The main food market in the city, and the most beautiful building in town! Think Arabic architecture meets art deco design. Visit for the sights, smells, and tastes of local produce, with plenty of free samples to snack on! Don’t miss the olives, fried almonds, and Malaga raisins, and head to the bar for the freshest seafood in town. And if you’re there in summer, you’d be an idiot to not taste the dried figs and Medjool dates!
Malaga Wines: Bring your insulin.
So, that’s the food sorted.
But what will you wash it all down with? Lucky for you, Malaga isn’t just famous for its food. This city is all about wine, too!
Winemaking in Malaga goes back more than 3,000 years, to the times of the Phoenicians in Spain. Along with Sherry, this makes Malaga wines some of the oldest in Europe!
In fact, Muscat de Alexandria, the main grape used here, has been cultivated in Malaga for over two millennia. Impressed yet? You should be.
So what’s the big deal?
The Sweet’n Low-Down on Malaga Wine
Malaga wines are pretty damn sweet. So sweet that they never fail to leave you with sticky hands and lips. So sweet that they really should carry a warning before being consumed by human people.
To make the traditional stuff, winemakers lay out Muscat and Pedro Ximenez grapes under the hot Andalusian sun. The grapes start to shrivel up in the heat, and their sugar concentrations soar. So, the winemakers are really crushing raisins to get the wine, not grapes.
The resulting wines are insanely sweet and heady, with a soft and silky texture and the unmistakable flavour of raisins!
You’ll see two types on the menu:
- Vinos de licor: fortified wines, tend to be sweeter and more full-bodied. Think dessert in a glass.
- Vinos naturalmente dulces: unfortified, naturally sweet wines. Lighter in body, sweetness, and colour. Aged in oak for a period of months to years!
Also, keep an eye out for Pajarete wines. These sweet boys have been fortified and aged for a couple of years, but maintain a beautiful amber colour and a sweet flavour that tastes like raw honey.
If you’re looking to try the traditional sweet wines of Malaga, don’t miss out on my favourite bars below.
Malaga’s Best Wine Bars
- Antigua Casa de Guardia (Alameda Principal, 18). There ain’t many places like this. Opened in 1840, this old-school wine bar is packed full of locals and sweet wined poured straight from the barrel.
- Bodeguita El Gallo (Calle San Agustín, 19). In the middle of the tourist town, this rustic tavern is totally traditional and all things malagueño, despite being across the road from the Picasso museum!
Travelling in Andalucia? Don’t miss out on more good eats! Get my guides on where to eat in Cordoba, and where to find the best tapas in Seville right now.
And while you’re at it, why not check out my other foodie guides?!
Did I miss your favourite places to eat and drink in Malaga? Let me know by commenting or sending me an email.