La Alvaroteca – best non-city centre restaurant in Malaga
Central restaurants are an obvious choice for eating out in Malaga, but what if one of the best places in the city was slightly out of town? What if after a short walk or taxi ride you could have a superb dining experience? At La Alvaroteca in La Cruz del Humilladero district, you can have just that at what we think it might just be the best non-city centre restaurant in Malaga.
Chef Álvaro Ávila hails from this district, just round the corner from the mainline train station, and he seeks to offer the best of local cooking with imaginative twists. So, the location makes complete sense and, anyway, La Alvaroteca is, as this review hopes to show, all about the food.
We also need to mention that this non-city centre restaurant in Malaga also stands out for its wallet-friendly prices. More about those later on, but suffice it to say that the tasting menu costs just €67.
A bit of backstory
The chef has no formal culinary training but has worked with big names in Spanish gastronomy. Aznak is just one of them. And, perhaps more importantly, he grew up with food.
His mother, from Jaén in northern Andalusia, is apparently an amazing cook. One of those in-the-background Mums in the kitchen, quietly producing delicious stews and rice dishes after delicious stews and rice dishes.
Add to this mix the influence of Malaga and you have the seeds for a very promising cooking style. In the last decade, Álvaro has evolved from traditional tasca-style tapas to uber-high-end fine dining where the emphasis is on Malaga but with a big nod to Jaén.
Fresh, seasonal produce sits centre stage at this restaurant, so expect the menu to change several times a year.
(And yes, we do think the Michelin star judges will have La Alvaroteca on their radar for 2024.)
What’s on the menu at La Alvaroteca
You can choose from à la carte dining or go for a tasting menu. Both run long and both include dishes that are never quite what you expect, making the dining experience an extraordinary foodie ride.
Álvaro also rings the changes on the tasting menu weekly, usually themed around a type of food or style of eating (e.g. tapas). This approach to tasting menus is unusual but ensures you could return again and again and probably never try the same dish twice.
We went for this option, which runs to 18 courses and takes you on a journey that showcases Álvaro’s signature dishes. You start with an olive oil gummy (yes, really) and olives that aren’t actually olives. Delicious EVOO and tasty bread (from Fermento, one of the best bakeries in Malaga) sit by your side throughout the whole meal.
Then, the serious stuff begins with one culinary flourish after another. All dishes were extraordinary, but our highlights were:
- The ajoblanco (cold almond soup) that Álvaro does with shrimps from Motril, macadamia nuts, coconut and seaweed. The result? An explosion of taste in a very unusual take on a traditional Andalusian summer soup.
- The tosta de arroz negro (black rice toast), with smoked eel and aioli sauce, was actually my favourite dish of all. I asked Álvaro what he preferred to cook and his answer was rice. Obvious when you taste this deliciousness.
- The rodaballo (skate) with pil-pil and EEVO is nothing short of heaven in several mouthfuls.
- The cochinillo confitado (glazed suckling pig) with mango and ginger is yet another heaven and an exquisite combination of flavours and textures.
The À la Carte menu
The non-tasting menu has plenty to choose from. The first section suggests starters that range from a traditional croquette to a sardine that wished it was a tomato via tacos, oysters and that ajoblanco.
Then there’s the stews section, where you’ll find lentils (with caviar, no less) and Álvaro’s rice dishes, now on our must-try list. Fish and meat dishes follow and, in the latter, game such as venison and rabbit take centre stage (one of the nods to Jaén).
In your glass
As you’d expect from dining at this level, the wining is also up there. The bodega at La Alvaroteca runs to over 200 labels, plenty from Malaga and Andalusia and an excellent choice from further afield in Spain and abroad.
Pairing options are available with the tasting menus. They cost €35 for five wines and €50 for five premium wines. Otherwise, let the maître d’ advise you and recommend the right wines for each dish – the staff here really know their stuff.
As we said at the start, this is a non-city centre restaurant in Malaga, so not somewhere you can walk to in 5 minutes from your hotel if you’re staying in town. But that said, La Alvaroteca is not far to go.
The venue is in La Cruz del Humilladero district, slightly west of the mainline train station and 1.7km from the Alameda Principal.
How to get there
On foot – it takes about 20 minutes to walk here from the city centre.
By taxi – the drive takes just over 5 minutes and would cost around €5 each way.
By train – if you’re coming to Malaga on the Cercanías local train (Fuengirola- Malaga or Alora-Malaga), it’s a 10-minute walk to the restaurant.
So, while La Alvaroteca isn’t bang in the centre, it really isn’t far away.
Álvaro confesses to having a wild side and this obviously comes out in some the décor. Take the exterior, for example, with its plain black box façade. Step inside and the à la carte dining room pays homage to street art and Manga.
However, the tasting menu dining room is the height of sophistication, with soft lighting, neutral walls and linen tablecloths. Deep-blue glassware and green floral arrangements provide a touch of contrast.
Informative, polite and swish are our three adjectives to describe it. All the wait staff were only too happy to explain dishes and how to eat them, and our glasses were regularly topped up.
Wallet-friendly with a capital W and F, proving that fine dining doesn’t have to cost the earth. We think the 12-plate tasting menu is extraordinary value at €70, and the à la carte follows the same maxim.
- Starters – from €3.50 to €18, with most around €6-8.
- Mains – from €7 to €24.
- Desserts – €5.50 to €10
Good for vegetarians?
La Alvaroteca doesn’t have a massive choice for veggies, but the à la carte menu does include some options. Pescatarians have much more variety.
Good for kids?
This being Malaga, you could, of course, take your kids, but we don’t think this is a family dining experience. Make this an adult-only lunch or dinner and relish the time out from your children.
Why put La Alvaroteca on your list of restaurants in Malaga
- An extraordinary dining experience.
- Variety of dishes and tasting menus for return visits.
- Excellent service.
- Wallet-friendly prices.
This non-city centre restaurant in Malaga opens for lunch Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday 1.30 to 4pm and for dinner on Friday and Saturday, 8.30 to 11pm.
Calle Gerona 38
Tel: 680 625 514
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