Food and drink is an essential element of Málaga life. Two of the city’s symbols are food-related: el cenachero, or the fishmonger, a statue of which can be found in Plaza de la Marina by the Paseo del Parque, and el boquerón (anchovy). The city is also home to numerous wineries and breweries.
Talking of wine, it has been produced in the region since Phoenecian times with the Romans taking production to even greater heights. There are 5 wine regions each producing a different grape or wine, though Moscatel is particularly popular which is why Málaga’s wines are renowned for being on the sweeter side.
Málaga’s oldest tavern
A good place to try the local wine is Antigua Casa de Guardia. Founded in 1840, it is the oldest tavern in the city. Its winery produces naturally sweet and sparkling wines, a classic vermouth and fortified wines. Drinking here (and eating, they have a selection of fresh – usually seafood – tapas) is like taking a step back in time. The wine sits in barrels behind a bar which consists of long tables. The staff write the amount you owe in chalk in front of you and add to it until you’re ready to leave.
If you’re not a wine fan, they do have bottled beer, including Málaga’s very own Victoria. At lunchtime, you may have to jostle for elbow room, but it is an experience not to be missed. A generous tumbler of wine costs around €1.30.
THE place to shop for fresh produce whether it’s fish, seafood, vegetables, cheese or olives; the market is alive and throbbing as the city’s heartbeat.
The building itself is worth noting with its stained-glass window, decorative street lamps outside, iron arches and original 14th century Moorish gateway.
All the produce is laid out as if for a magazine shoot; piles of colourful vegetables, beautifully curled fish tails and cascades of fat, juicy olives. And you don’t have far to go to sample it, either. The market is home to a number of café/bars which tempt you with the best fried fish or paellas in the city, washed down with a refreshing glass of something you fancy. Of course, you can always buy a little something for later from the market stalls, too.
Ask non-Spaniards what foods they most associate with Spain and you’ll probably hear paella, chorizo and tapas.
The origin of tapas is lost in the mists of time but the most popular idea is that the first tapa was simply a hunk of bread or cheese that was placed over the glass to keep the flies out. Tapas vary from area to area within the Málaga region; from the coastal boquerones (anchovies) to the olives, cheeses and meats of the mountain villages.
Some of the best tapas in Málaga can be found tucked behind an arched doorway in the city centre: a tiny restaurant that serves small portions packed with big flavours. There may not be much of the chorizo or paella at El Tapeo de Cervantes but the diverse range of modern tapas make this is a gem of an eatery.
Life’s a beach! If you’re staying at one of the holiday resorts near Málaga, enjoying a meal with the sand between your toes and the sea sparkling invitingly before you is a must. The chiringuitos that line the beaches of the Costa del Sol are popular with locals and tourists alike. There will be a huge choice of fish and seafood dishes but for those who prefer something different, there will be other options.
Whatever your preference – tapas, large paellas or a fresh glass of local wine or beer – Málaga’s gastronomy will not disappoint.