Food and Drink in Malaga
Málaga has no shortage of places to eat and drink, and, though it's hardly a gourmet paradise, the city has a justified reputation for its seafood.
Málaga's greatest claim to fame is undoubtedly its fried fish, acknowledged as the best in Spain. You'll find many fish restaurants grouped around the Alameda, although for some of the very best you need to head out to the suburbs of Pedregalejo and El Palo, served by bus #11 (from the Paseo del Parque). On the seafront paseo at Pedregalejo, almost any of the cafés and restaurants will serve you up terrific fish. Further on, after the paseo disappears, you find yourself amid fishing shacks and smaller, sometimes quite ramshackle, cafés. This is El Palo, an earthier sort of area for the most part, with a beach and fishing huts, and in summer or at weekends an even better place to eat.
Cañadu, Plaza de la Merced 21. A rare vegetarian option serving a good selection of salad- and pasta-based dishes accompanied by organic wines and beers.
La Cancela, c/Denis Belgrano 3, off c/Granada. A malagueño institution - ajo blanco (chilled almond soup) is a must here - with an economical ménu and outdoor tables in a pleasant, pedestrianized street.
Mesón de Jamón, Plaza María Guerrero 5, just off the Plaza Merced. Good-value menú and a selection of jamón and cheese tapas.
Restaurante Arcos, Alameda 31. Efficient central place serving all-day platos combinados and late-night meals - for breakfast they also serve pan tostada with wholemeal bread, pan integral .
El Tintero II, El Palo. Right at the far east end of the seafront, just before the Club Náutico (bus #11; ask for "Tintero Dos"), this is a huge beach restaurant where the waiters charge round with plates of fish (all costing the same for a plate) and you shout for, or grab, anything you like. The fish to go for are, above all, mero (a kind of gastronomically evolved cod) and rosada (equally indefinable), along with Andalucian regulars such as boquerones (fresh anchovies), gambas (prawns), calamares, chopos, jibia (different kinds of squid) and sepia (cuttlefish). It certainly isn't haute cuisine but for sheer entertainment it's a must.
El Vegetariano, Pozo del Rey 5, Just north of the Roman Theatre. Atmospheric - maybe too much so for some as smoking is permitted - little veggie place offering a variety of imaginative pasta-, cheese- and salad-based dishes. They have a twin restaurant, El Vegetariano de San Bernardo, at the junction of c/Niño de Guevara and c/Cañuelos de San Bernardo, a couple of blocks west of Plaza de la Merced.
Moderate to expensive restaurants
Al-Yamal, c/Blasco de Garay 3, near Hostal El Cenachero. Good North African restaurant serving up meat in spicy sauces, couscous and other typical Arab food.
Antonio Martín, Paseo Maritimo. One of Málaga's renowned fish restaurants and the traditional (and expensive) haunt of matadores celebrating their successes in the nearby bullring.
Parador Gilbralfaro, Monte Gilbralfaro. Superior dining on the terrace with spectacular views over the coast and town. The menú is excellent value at around ?21. If you can't face the climb, bus #35 heading east along the Paseo del Parque will take you there.
Bars and cafés
A number of traditional bars serve the sweet Málaga wine (Falstaff's "sack"), made from muscatel grapes and dispensed from huge barrels; try it with shellfish at Antigua Casa Guardia, a great old nineteenth-century bar at the corner of c/Pastora, on the Alameda's north side. The new season wine, Pedriot, is incredibly sweet; much more palatable is Seco Añejo, which has matured for a year.
Málaga has plenty of good tapas bars : Gorki, in c/Strachan near the turismo is a popular place at aperitivo time, whilst the diminutive size of the bustling, Orellana at c/Moreno Monroy 5, slightly north, is in inverse proportion to its reputation as one of the best tapas bars in town.
Cheaper and earthier options include La Manchega, c/Marín García 4, off the west side of c/Larios.