I only spent three nights in Malaga so please don’t think of this post as an authoritative guide to this ancient and fascinating city. It was November as well so it had none of its usual summer buzz. I did have time to nose out a few good places in the short time I was there though. It was after lunchtime when I arrived in town and I was starving, so I headed straight to the old market on Calle Atarazanas in the hope that somewhere would be open nearby . Thankfully I located this marisqueria out the back door of the market that had been recommended by a local food blog:
El Marisquero (Elementary B+), 7 Calle Olozaga It’s a down-to-earth, basic kind of tapas place with standing areas both inside and out so you can catch the shade or the sun as you like. The grilled prawns I had were very good (B+) and it was bliss to slake my thirst with a couple of ice cold canas. It’s always good to be back in Spain when it starts like this.
Antigua Casa de Guardia (Intermediate A-), 18 Alameda Principal,
www.antiguacasadeguardia.net This ancient tavern (since 1840) near the waterfront sells famous local wines such as Malaga Virgen and Moscatel on draught. It’s just a large single room spanned across its width by a long bar, the surface of which is used by the servers to chalk up your bill as you sample the various contents of the barrels that line the walls.
They serve tapas too but I was saving myself for later so I can’t comment on the food. It’s a good place to start your night out as it has heaps of atmosphere and cheap, though not amazing, wines.
El Pimpi (Intermediate A), 62 Calle Grande, www.elpimpi.com
A local institution, well located near the amphitheatre on Calle Alcazabilla and hence very popular with tourists. It’s a big place with two entrances and was very busy when I went.
There’s a sizable terrace out front and a couple of seating areas inside. It’s an intriguing building, attractively decorated inside with ceramic tiles, old bodega barrels and climbing plants. The food is beautifully presented and everything looked and tasted great.
Wanting a healthy lunch, I had the Ensalada Malaguena con Salmorejo, Naranja y Bacalao Asado, a Malagan salad of cold tomato and bread soup, oranges and grilled salt cod, which was excellent (A). With a bottle of water the bill was €8.80.
Refectorium (Advanced B+), 8 Calle Cervantes For some reason I thought this Frommers recommended place would be quite down to earth due to its location by the bullring. It’s actually fairly posh and very popular with the matadors and their fans, so I’d be surprised if you could get in when there’s a fight on. I went at a quiet time and got in without a reservation. So I had some I had some high quality local fare (B/B+) but I wouldn’t go back due to the fairly high prices, although the adjoining tapas bar might be more affordable. Embarrassingly I forgot my wallet and had to go back to the hotel to get it. When I returned but was treated like a hero, with a ponche on the house and lots of cheers from the waiters!
El Chinitas (Intermediate C), 4-6 Calle Moreno Monroy Another Frommers and Seleccion del Gourmet suggested place. It’s old school and atmospheric but I wasn’t particularly impressed by their tapas tasting menu (mainly C except for the cured ham).
I wanted to try Bar Orellana over the road which is owned by the same people but it was closed for renovations when I was there. You might have better luck when you go on both counts. La Camapna (Elementary B+), 35 Calle Grande A popular tapas bar selling typical seafood dishes. I didn’t really explore the menu but my squid rings, bravas and two large beers for €11.60 filled a hole.
I had my first taste of Licor 43 in Malaga. The secret recipe has forty three ingredients (hence the name) but the main flavours are orange and vanilla. The latter dominates, too much so for my taste (C+), although it might be better mixed with other things.
A similar southern tipple is Ponche, a brandy-based liqueur that has been infused with Andalucian oranges, dried fruit and spices. I know there’s more than one brand but Caballero is the only one that the bars ever seem to have.
It’s ok, like a weak spiced brandy (B), but there are several other Spanish digestifs I’d rather have.
I stayed at the Hotel Molina Lario a nice hotel well located just opposite the cathedral. The staff were helpful, the breakfast was varied, my room was large and had good wifi. There’s a postage stamp sized pool on the roof which would be a godsend in summer. There are heaps of restaurants in the streets around the hotel.
I didn’t get to go inside the Renaissance style Catedral de Malaga despite it being very near. The entrance with the orange trees outside is quite nice though.
One morning I finished my morning exercise with a walk up the steep slopes of the Alcazaba, the Moorish fortification that dominates the skyline of the old town, where you can get some great views of the harbor and city. You can pay to get into the inner citadel although it was too early when I went.
The Roman ampitheatre is just below it. Bits of it were nicked to build the Alcazaba but it still has its basic form.
I also visited the Museo Picasso at 8 Calle San Augustin (€9 entry) but was more impressed by the building itself (a wealthy Moor’s town house) rather than any of the exhibitions inside (his early stuff or not particularly interesting works by other artists). I particularly liked the peaceful courtyard and the beautiful, ornately carved wooden ceilings.
You can also see some archaeology pre-dating the house down in the basement level. It’s still not really worth the cost of entrance in my opinion. Here’s my Google map with the above places on and some others I didn’t get to. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to explore some more.