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Budget tapas bars

Malaga is packed to bursting point with tapas bars. Below, we explore the wonderful world of tapas and recommend some venues for tapas and larger sharing portions that taste better than the usual tourist fare. And won’t strain your wallet!

Exploring the delightful world of tapas in Malaga

Tapas, the quintessential Spanish culinary tradition, are much more than just appetizers or snacks. These small, savory dishes are a cornerstone of Spanish culture, particularly in the sunny southern region of Andalucía, with Malaga province being a prime hotspot for tapas enthusiasts.

What are tapas?

Tapas are small, flavourful dishes served alongside drinks in bars and restaurants throughout Spain. They range from simple offerings, like olives or cheese, to more elaborate preparations, such as seafood or meat dishes. The essence of tapas lies in their variety and the social element they bring to dining, encouraging sharing of plates (and giving you the chance to try lots of different dishes).

1. Boquerones en vinagre: These are fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, garlic, and parsley, a true Malaga delicacy. (You can buy boquerones en vinagre at Malaga markets and delicatessen shops.)

2. Espetos: Sardines skewered and grilled over an open fire, typically found in beachside ‘chiringuitos’. (Sardines are at their best in months without an r in them, so May to August.)

3. Gazpachuelo malagueño: A comforting, creamy soup made from potatoes, mayonnaise, and fish, representing Malaga’s unique culinary twist. (Don’t confuse this with gazpacho, similar sounding but completely different!)

4. Ensalada malagueña: A refreshing salad featuring salted cod, oranges, olives, potatoes and onions, bringing together the taste of the sea and land (and typical Malaga produce).

5. Fritura malagueña: A mix of various fried fish, such as squid and small local fish, showcasing the region’s plentiful seafood.

Read more about typical things to eat in Malaga

The history of tapas

The origins of tapas are shrouded in legend and folklore. One popular story suggests that King Alfonso X of Castile introduced tapas as small snacks to accompany wine, to prevent drunkenness among soldiers and courtiers. Another tale credits humble taverns with starting the tradition by covering (tapar in Spanish) wine glasses with bread or cured meats to keep out flies, providing a snack to customers at the same time.

Regardless of their true origin, tapas have evolved from simple peasant fare to a sophisticated culinary art form. They reflect the rich and diverse history of Spain, influenced by various cultures including the Romans, Moors, and Sephardic Jews.

The tapa crawl

A “tapa crawl,” known locally as ir de tapas or tapear, is an integral part of Spanish social life, especially in Malaga. This involves hopping from bar to bar, enjoying a different tapa and drink at each stop. It’s not just about eating; it’s a social experience, a way to enjoy the company of friends and family while savouring a variety of dishes. Each establishment has its specialties, and part of the fun is discovering new flavours and local favourites.

In conclusion, tapas in Malaga are more than just food; they represent a lifestyle. This culinary tradition offers a glimpse into the soul of southern Spain, where food is a celebration, a communal joy, and a delicious adventure. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, indulging in a tapas crawl in Malaga is an experience not to be missed, offering a taste of the rich culture, history, and flavours of this vibrant region.

Malaga Tapas Tour - GuideToMalaga.com

Spring 2024 update

We’ve just updated opening hours for bars and restaurants, but they may change so double-check with the venue via their website or Facebook page before you go. 

Discover where to eat out in Malaga

Taste the amazing local dining scene for yourselves at our recommended listings of bars, cafés and restaurants in the city. All our suggested places to eat out in Malaga come tried and tested, and all offer great value for money.

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