Spain has never let me down on the food front – in my visits there, I’ve eaten some of the best foods of my travels. And Málaga was no different. The sub-tropical climate of the Andalucia area, along with the proximity to the sea and access to the hills slightly further north mean the quality and selection of fresh ingredients is second to none. Combine this with the cultural renaissance the city has experienced over the last decade and it’s no surprise to find that Málaga is home to an absolutely amazing food scene.
Six of the best things to eat in Málaga
Given it’s right on the coast, Málaga is fish-lover’s dream. I’m not usually the hugest fan of fish but I did try most of the dishes (although I did draw the line at anything squiddy – they give me the creeps) and for the most part, they were all delicious. It probably helped that they were all extremely fresh.
Anyway, top of the list of local specialities is espetos – sardines skewered on a wooden stick, salted and roasted over an open fire on the sand. We saw this in action in the nearby town of Nerja were we had lunch at Chiringuito Ayo on Playa de Burriana. Here we watched the chef cooking espetos in the traditional manner of sticking the skewers in a boat filled with sand, while we ate delicious fish dishes washed down with jugs of refreshing tinto de verano – red wine mixed with lemonade which goes down a little to easily….
(Insider tip – Don’t order sangria in Spain by the way – order tinto de verano instead. Our guide informed us that only tourists really drink sangria. And only ever eat paella for lunch, never dinner – that’s another thing the locals would never dream of doing).
2/ Mini kebab de gambas al pil pil
Málaga’s chefs are producing some really innovative twists on traditional meals and tapas – my favourite of these was the mini kebabs de gambas al pil pil we found at Taberna Uvedoble. Here, chef Willie has taken a traditional tapas of prawns in a rich garlic, chilli and paprika sauce and combined it with mayonnaise and served in a soft, lightly-toasted wrap with some fresh lettuce.
3/ Jamón y queso
Absolutely every meal that we ate in Málaga included a platter of jamón y queso – ham and cheese. Each version we tried provided a slightly different take on the experience depending on the varieties used but what each of them had in common was ham that melted in the mouth (look for a decent fat content in the ham for this) offset by tangy, creamy cheese.
Again, both of these were local specialties with nearby forests providing homes and food for the pigs (they eat acorns from oak trees, if you were wondering) used to make the Iberican ham and Málaga’s own local breed of goat providing the milk for cheese.
My favourite plate of of jamón y queso was served up in Bodega El Pimpi but a close second was the platter pictured above from El Mortal. Here the ham and cheese was served along with roasted almonds (almendras fritas), bread, crackers and a glass of vermouth (forget craft beer and small batch gin – vermouth is what all the cool kids in Spain are drinking right now).
Booking a Málaga food tour? We recommend Spain Food Sherpas via Viator
No trip to Spain would be complete without an olive or two. Málaga’s local variety is Aceituna Aloreña, a floating pit olive traditional marinated in a mix of garlic, fennel, red pepper and thyme.
To find mound and mounds of fresh olives, along with the best of the region’s meat fish and vegetables, head to Mercado Central de Atarazanas, the city’s bustling municipal market.
5/ Porra Antequerana
Porra Anteqerana is a rich tomato soup, thickened with bread. It’s served cold and is usually topped with tomatoes, Serrano ham and/or tuna and slices of hard-boiled egg. Smooth, hearty and garlicky, it’s one of those simple, unassuming dishes that arrives as part of a wider tapas spread but would happily make a hearty lunch on a warm day.
6/ Alcachofas confitadas
If you gave me a plate of Alacachofas confitadas and told me that was all I could eat for the rest of my life, I would be a very happy lady.
Here, artichokes are slow-cooked on a low heat for at least an hour before being wrapped in warm ham. I actually had these in Antequera as part of a massive tapas feast at El Escribano but they are common menu item in restaurants across the region.
See those little black blobs on the plate in the picture? I assumed they were balsamic vinegar but they were actually molasses. Andalucia is one of the few areas of Europe that grows wild sugar and there’s a small village near Málaga that is home to the only molasses factory is Spain. Another common tapas in the area is fried aubergine served with a drizzle of this local molasses – also amazing.
Where to find the best food in Málaga
- To really get under the skin of the best of Málaga’s food scene, take a look at Spain Food Sherpas. They know everything there is to know about food in Málaga and run a range of food tours and cooking classes. The 4-hour Taste of Malaga tapas tour includes a tour of the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, a visit to a local independent delicatessen and tapas tasting at a few of the best restaurants in the City.
- As well as the Mercado Central de Atarazanas, you should also check out Mercado de La Merced, a gourmet food market where more than 20 stalls showcase the best of Málagan artisinal food. Grab lunch or dinner from one of the stalls, nab a spot on one of the tables scattered throughout the aisles and eat your meal whilst enjoying the artistic vibe and relaxed atmosphere.
- Restaurants in Málaga and the surrounding area that I’ve mentioned throughout this piece:
Plan your trip to Málaga:
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My trip to Málaga was in association with Spain the UK but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links – if you book using this link, we receive a small commission (but there’s no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support.