This blog post was originally posted on April 22, 2016 and was updated on October 21, 2020.
Let’s be honest: tapas bars are a dime a dozen in Malaga, but not all of them are created equal.
Malaga’s status as a summer hotspot means that it’s just as easy to stumble into a tourist trap as it is to find an authentic local gem. That’s where we come in.
Our guide to the best tapas bars in Malaga will help you devour the city by frequenting the latter (and avoiding the former).
Mesón Mariano: Best traditional tapas bar in Malaga
Let’s start things off with a classic. At Mesón Mariano, you can sit down and enjoy a more sophisticated meal in the restaurant, or hang out at the bar and order up a few rounds of tapas—the choice is entirely yours.
This place is traditional (in the best possible way) and family-run, serving up tasty homemade dishes made with the absolute finest and freshest market products. Don’t leave without trying the artichokes—they’re the specialty of the house.
La Recova: Quirkiest tapas bar in Malaga
We’ve already established that La Recova is one of our favorite spots for breakfast in Malaga, but believe it or not, this quirky and charming cafe also provides a wonderful variety of local tapas starting at midday.
With seafood favorites such as pulpo, a delicious charcuterie selection, and caracoles (snails) for those willing to step out of their culinary comfort zone, this cozy locale is the perfect place to stop for a bite. What makes it especially interesting, though, is the setting—it’s also a shop selling artisan and antique homewares and decorations.
Uvedoble: Best modern tapas bar in Malaga
Ajoblanco—but with a touch of salty sardines. Albóndigas—but with decadent bull’s tail.
These are just a few of the contemporary takes on traditional Malaga tapas that await you at Uvedoble, one of the best tapas bars in Malaga for those looking for something fresh and new. Everything comes in various sizes, so when you order, keep in mind how many people will be sharing the dish (it’s the local way!) and go from there.
El Tapeo de Cervantes: Best variety of tapas
Don’t let the size of El Tapeo de Cervantes fool you—this tiny tapas bar packs a big punch when it comes to variety.
With traditional, modern and fusion offerings all on the menu, you’re spoiled for choice here, and you really can’t go wrong with anything. To make the experience extra special and authentic, pair your choices with a wine from their excellent list (we’d suggest one from the nearby D.O. Sierras de Malaga region).
Insider’s Tip: This is one of the hottest tapas joints in Malaga, so calling ahead is recommended to guarantee your spot.null
Marisquería Casa Vicente: Best seafood tapas in Malaga
If you hadn’t already figured as such based on the city’s coastal location, you’ll soon realize that fish is a staple of the local diet here in Malaga. When we’re craving those fresh seafood flavors, no place beats Marisquería Casa Vicente (Calle Comisario, 2).
Located just a few blocks away from the legendary Atarazanas Market, they’re famous for their no-frills atmosphere and fresh seafood tapas served in generous portions. The stars of the show, without a doubt, are their gambas (shrimp)—you’ll have to peel them yourself, but just throw the shells and tails in the bucket on your table.
Antigua Casa de Guardia: Best place to start a tapas crawl in Malaga
Before you head out to enjoy a crawl among these best tapas bars in Malaga, you’ll want to start things off with a local aperitif. Our pick: Antigua Casa de Guardia, Malaga’s oldest wine bar, which serves the region’s typical sweet wine straight from the barrel (one of the 24 barrels that line the wall behind the bar, to be exact).
To accompany your wine, they serve a small but respectable selection of seafood tapas that always hit the spot.
Tapas bars in Malaga with specialties that you can’t miss
Some places just have that special something. You know what we’re talking about—a signature dish so famous and irresistible that leaving Malaga without trying it would practically be a sin.
One such spot is La Tranca, a lively little spot that draws locals both for its homemade vermouth and its tasty empanadas, which come in a variety of delicious flavors. These are South American-style empanadas, rather than their Spanish counterparts, so it’s a great way to taste a different part of the world in an authentically malagueño setting.
Bull’s tail, or rabo de toro in Spanish, is one of Andalusia’s most emblematic dishes. Wendy Gamba takes this rich, meaty dish and transforms it into something that even the pickiest eater would have trouble turning down: a nice, juicy burger. An American classic with southern Spanish flair, it’s a must-eat bite on any Malaga tapas crawl.