Hands down, the cosmopolitan city of Malaga is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets.
Our Spanish friends and neighbors will probably be angry that we’ve shared our favorite haunts with you, but hey, we’re the type of people who can stand a bit of flack.
Most travelers to Andalusia make sure that Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and the beaches of the Costa del Sol are on their itinerary, but very few veer off the beaten path to visit our provincial capital on the Mediterranean. Malaga boasts numerous beaches and marinas, as well as a busy port specially outfitted for passenger cruise ships. Pablo Picasso was born and lived in Malaga for a large part of his life and today, visitors to the downtown pedestrian mall—Calle Larios—might catch a view of Malaga’s modern day prodigal son, Antonio Banderas, on a leisurely stroll.
We can tell you about all of the sights to see including the stunning Cathedral, the Picasso museum, Malaga’s famous plaza del toros, or bull ring, Alcazaba, and even the new Contemporary Art Museum, but we would rather concentrate on our favorite things, wine and food. Here, a roundup of some of our favorite places.
We love visiting Antigua Casa de Guardia. You’ll find giant wine barrels, each labeled with the style of wine within, lining one wall of this block long space. The cost of a glass of premium Vino de Malaga is around 1 Euro and your bill will be totaled in chalk on the bar, so no worries if your Spanish fails you. There’s a great selection of wines made from Pedro Jimenez and Moscatel grapes, some sweet, some semi-sweet, and some very dry. When you’re ready to pay, the bartender simply counts the marks and holds up the appropriate number of fingers to indicate how many Euros you owe. On the other side of the bar, there’s usually a fisherman or two selling freshly caught sardines, mussels, shrimp, or fried fish that pair perfectly with a glass of dry Malaga wine.
While walking around the old quarter of Malaga make sure to visit La Reserva 12 This trendy joint can be found at Calle La Bolsa 12 serving traditional Spanish tapas in a decidedly nuevo high style. We just can’t pass up the roast pork fillets in Sherry sauce or the roast quail to start. For a delicious fish dish, don’t miss the delicately fried red snapper. The wine list is quite extensive with over 175 offerings by the bottle but belly up to the bar to check out the large ice buckets filled with an assortment of white wines available by the glass.
Bullfighters and their admirers crowd the front room of Bar El Pimpi on Calle Granada. This richly tiled hot spot is another Malaga institution offering jamon, queso, pinchos, montaditos, wine, and beer. Don’t fret if there’s no room at the front bar—politely push your way towards the back. There you’ll find a large room lined with oversized sherry barrels signed by various celebrities hailing from Malaga. Try some locally made wines alongside a delicious grilled cheese and jamon sandwich. Heartier fare is also available, but save your appetite, there are plenty more tapas bars to visit.
Next, some more of our favorite picks from Malaga...