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13 Best Tapas Bars in Málaga

13 Best Tapas Bars in Málaga

There are so many great tapas bars in Málaga that you do not want to miss!

Whether you are visiting to experience the best beaches in Malaga, you want to get to know the different neighborhoods, or explore all of the fun things to do around the city, you have to eat in between.

So why not make sure you are eating the best that the city has to offer?

These are some of the best places to have both traditional tapas from Andalucia as well as some fun modern twists on the classics.

There are a few that are perhaps slightly more upscale than others, but for the most part, this list is made up of casual spots where you can head in after a day at the beach for a few drinks and some delicious food without breaking the bank.

What are Traditional Tapas in Málaga?

  • Salmorejo: This cold soup is similar to a gazpacho, but salmorejo is made with bread to thicken it and with tons of garlic. You will also find it as a popular dish in tapas bars in Seville, too.
  • Ensaladilla: Usually just referred to as ensaladilla in Málaga, this is officially called ensaladilla Rusia and can be found all over Spain in different forms. It is essentially a potato salad but you will find all kinds of things in it around Málaga including shrimp, crab, tuna, and usually hardboiled eggs. It’s always well lathered in mayonnaise. 
  • Espetos: This is a truly Málaga dish. Head to a chiringuito on the beach where they grill a sword full of sardines over open fire and serve them with a wedge of lime.
  • Mojama: Referred to as the jamon of the sea, this is a salt-cured tuna that is thinly sliced and served with bread and almonds.
  • Ajoblanco: Another cold soup you’ll find around Andalucia (it get’s pretty hot here in July and August!). Ajoblanco is made with almonds and tons of garlic.
  • Boquerones en vinagre: Boquerones are anchovies and this dish has them served up in a sort of pickle with plenty of vinegar. They are a perfect tapa on a hot day paired with a cold beer or chilled white wine.
  • Marcona Almonds: You will see these almonds everywhere in this region of Andalucia. They are sold on the street still hot from the fryer and served cold as a free snack when you order drinks at most tapas bars in Málaga. They are almonds with the skin removed. They are fried and salted and you will not be able to stop eating them.
  • Berenjena con miel: Berenjena is eggplant (aubergine) and miel is the Spanish word for honey. So this is a simple dish of sliced and cooked (sometimes battered and fried, sometimes just pan fried without batter) eggplant topped with honey, sweet and savory.
table full of tapas in malaga with beer, olives, bread, and jamon on different white plates.

The tapas bars in Málaga vary in quality, cost, and ambiance, but you can’t go wrong with places that are busy and where the food looks yummy!

The Best Tapas Bars in Málaga

1. Mercado Central de Atarazanas

You can’t talk about tapas in Málaga without talking about Mercado Central de Atarazanas. It is located in downtown Málaga and is where to head for fresh produce and seafood if you are going to self-cater while you’re in the city.

However, it is also home to some of the best places for seafood tapas in the city. Tables line the sidewalk year round and during the busy summer months, you have to wait in line to get a table. But the wait is worth it.

You can choose from several places that look good, but my personal favorite is Marisqueria El Yerno, which is located in this part of the market near the entrance.

This is a great place to have boquerones en vinagre along with freshly grilled shrimp, seafood salads, and crispy fried calamari, shrimp, and sardines. You can also have plates full of freshly steamed razor clams and mussels.

2. Marisquería Casa Vicente

Casa Vicente is a must-visit on any tapas in Málaga tour. When you search for the best tapas bars in Málaga, you’ll soon discover that Casa Vicente makes everyone’s list.

Which means it’s always busy. But again, I promise it’s worth the wait. Especially if you love seafood tapas.

The menu is enormous and has a few non-seafood options if there are people in the group who don’t like it. But this is a great place to come for mojama, boquerones, freshly made ensaladilla, and tons of great grilled and fried fish dishes.

There are tables both outside and inside and most of the outdoor tables are in the shade, making this an ideal place to escape the heat of the day.

plate of fried calamari and skewers of shrimp with two glasses of beer at a tapas bar in Malaga.

The tapas bars at the Mercado Central are such great places to head for a tapas lunch.

3. Bar Málaga

This is the perfect place to come if you want to sample a lot of different traditional Spanish tapas dishes. They have everything from oxtail stew to freshly fried seafood. 

The bar itself is a small space with beautiful tiles and an old-school bar. They have a nice selection of draft beer, local wines, and delicious Spanish vermouth.

This is one of the bars in Málaga that I always return to when I revisit the city because although it has English menus available, it feels more like a local spot than some of the others on this list.

The staff are friendly, the beers are cheap, and the food is delicious. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu at this popular central city spot.

4. Bar La Tranca

If I only have time to go to one bar when I’m passing through Málaga, it’s always going to be La Tranca.

They make their own absolutely delicious vermouth which is enough to get me to come back again and again. 

The music is always great, there’s always a spare seat at the bar, and the tapas are fantastic.

They have a small selection of cold tapas that are already made including their salty and creamy ensaladilla as well as perfectly gooey tortillas with spinach or onions.

Then there are the made-t0-order tapas like patatas bravas, fried croquettes, pimientos de padrón, and so much more. 

Head here solo or with a small group and enjoy a seat outside or at the bar. See if you recognize any of the famous faces who don the wall behind the bar and enjoy your time here.

table full of tapas with several different plates including a sandwich, two open-faced sandwiches, potato salad and a drink with an orange in it all at one of the best tapas bars in Málaga.

Sample different dishes that you’ve never tried before, that is the beauty of a tapas bar. If you don’t love it, it’s only a small plate and doesn’t cost a ton.

5. Casa Lola

A great tapas bar, Casa Lola takes some more traditional dishes and adds their own flair. This little spot downtown should definitely be on your list of tapas bars in Málaga.

They have local vermouth, a colorful tiled interior and exterior, seating both inside and outside, and fantastic tapas.

Of course, there is a nice house wine selection as well as draft and bottled beers available as well.

This is a good place to have Iberico ham, smoked salmon in the style of mojama, grilled shrimp, and perfectly ripe tomato salad. If you are traveling with a group of more than two, I recommend making a booking during the summer months.

6. Uvedoble Taberna

This modern Málaga tapas bar is great for those that want something a little bit more elevated. The cost is still pretty reasonable with most tapas costing about €3 and large plates around €10-15.

They have an exceptional wine list, so those that want to have more of a wine bar vibe should definitely head here.

The ajoblanco here is one of the best I have had in Málaga and the patatas piconesa are the perfect drinking snack if you don’t want a full meal.

bowl of shrimp with a red sauce over them.

The seafood dishes around Málaga are fresh and delicious. It tastes even better when the table is right on the beach!

7. Antigua Casa de Guardia

Enjoy a drink in what feels like the middle of a winery. This is one of the oldest wine bars in Málaga and as you might expect upon entering, the wine selection here is one of the best around. The wine served from these barrels is a sweet wine typical of these region of Spain. It makes for a great aperitif.

But the tapas are worth enjoying alongside a few glasses of their different tipples. Most of the dishes on the menu are seafood which is either raw, steamed, or pickled. 

The menu isn’t huge and you likely won’t be able to have a whole meal here, but the ambiance and wine make it worth visiting and adding to your Málaga tapas crawl.

8. La Recova

Although this is a fantastic tapas bar in Málaga, I recommend coming here for breakfast as well as afternoon drinks and snacks.

The breakfast here is my favorite in the entire city and consists of traditional Spanish breakfast options like pan con tomate and tortilla. Everything is made in house and you can enjoy it all while surrounded by antiques.

In addition to being a cafe and bar, it is also an antiques shop. So if you see something you like while you’re dining, you can take it home with you as a souvenir.

piece of bread with cheese, tomatoes and an egg on top with a bottle of kombucha on the side. the food is served on a wooden chopping board.

The breakfast options around Málaga are fantastic, especially at La Recova.

9. Lo Güeno Mesón

This is both a full restaurant and a tapas bar. If you want a nice place to sit down for a full meal, this is a fantastic option.

But it is also a great place to add to your list of great bars for tapas in Málaga. For tapas, head to the bar area and order directly from the bartender. Then grab a table or a stool near the bar and enjoy.

They have traditional options like boquerones en vinagre, pickled red tuna, and Iberico ham. But they also have some unique and delicious dishes like barbecue mussels, artichokes in tempura, and foie gras with goat cheese in a millefeuille.

10. El Tapeo de Cervantes

El Tapeo de Cervantes is one of the most traditional tapas bars in Málaga. Inside you’ll find a beautiful bar area and plenty of tables to enjoy an evening of tapas and drinks.

This is the sort of place you come with friends to enjoy a sobremesa. This is one of my favorite Spanish words and it means to sit around the table and talk, eat, and enjoy each others company.

The nice thing about this tapas bar is that while they have a regular menu which rarely changes, they also have a specials menu which is very seasonal and depends on what fresh ingredients are available that day.

The stewed wild boar in local wine is my personal favorite dish. It goes perfectly with some crusty bread for dipping and a cold glass of draft beer.

plate of espetos, grilled sardines with a slice of lemon on the side.

Espetos on the beach are a true Málaga experience that you don’t want to miss.

11. Mesón Mariano

This family-run bar is another traditional option to enjoy tapas in Málaga. They have a restaurant side as well as a bar where you should go if you just want to have tapas.

If you are here when artichokes are in season, do not miss trying theirs. It’s what they are known best for. They are in season between December and May. 

They also have a nice selection of both seafood, meat, and vegetarian options, which makes this the perfect spot to come with a group who all have different dietary restrictions.

12. Las Merchanas

Located to the west of the city center, this local spot doesn’t have any frills. Just cheap beer and delicious tapas.

Try the morcilla de arroz (blood sausage with rice), the ensaladilla Rusia, and the patatas bravas. 

You don’t need to make a booking and you’ll rarely wait for a table. I recommend this spot for more of a lunch tapas than for dinner when you may want to be closer to the downtown for more of a tapas crawl.

This is also when all of the seafood is freshest, so if you want to enjoy some fried calamari or sardines, lunch is a better time of day for those dishes.

plaza in malaga spain with blossoming flowers and bright blue skies.

Take a wander around the plazas in Málaga and see if any of those busy spots are serving up great tapas, but you can’t go wrong with any on this list!

13. Chiringuito el Cachalote

Chiringuitos are a Málaga specialty. They are basically beach bars that have an indoor restaurant as well as tables out on the sand.

This is where you are going to find the best espetos, the grilled sardines I mentioned at the start of this article.

However, they are grilled everything out there in those barbecue pits. So if you want barbecued octopus or whole fish alongside a cold glass of gaspacho, all while your toes are in the sand, then go in search of your favorite chiringuito.

My personal favorite in Málaga is El Cachalote. This is located right along Playa Malagueta, the beach closest to the downtown area. It’s easy enough to walk here along the paseo maritimo or boardwalk which runs along the waterfront.

Take a Tapas Tour of Málaga

Whether you are only in Málaga for a few days or you have a week or more to explore, food tours are a great way to sample several tapas bars and snacks in a short period of time. 

They are also a fantastic way to get to know more about local food culture from a knowledgeable guide. These are our top picks for tapas tours in Málaga.

  • Malaga Guided Food Tour: This top-rated tour is 3.5 hours of exploring downtown Málaga and stopping into at least four different tapas bars for snacks and drinks. Sample typical Spanish wine and traditional as well as unique and interesting tapas dishes. The tour includes all of the food and drinks as well as a bilingual guide, making it quite a bargain. Book it here.
  • Malaga Tapas Crawl: This is a fantastic local tour where you will sample up to 12 different dishes and 5 different drinks. You’ll learn about how the city’s history and culture have influenced the food here and you’ll also get to wander through some of the most beautiful areas of the downtown with a knowledgeable guide. Book that tour here.
  • Genuine Wine and Tapas Tour: This is the tour for wine lovers. You will visit four different bars and sample five different local wines. You’ll also try 8 different tapas which are selected to pair well with each of the different wines. This is the perfect tour for those that want to uncover the best wine and tapas bars in Málaga. Book that tour here.