Eme de Mariano – local dining in Malaga
Our latest Malaga restaurant review looks at Eme de Mariano, a restaurant bang in the centre of town where traditional cooking grabs the spotlight. This venue is all about local dining in Malaga and showcasing the delicious everyday cuisine, while giving all those family recipes a dash of modernity in their finishing touches and presentation.
We’ve visited Eme de Mariano on several occasions. They were all different – a friend’s birthday, a business lunch and informal tapas for two – and this restaurant delivered every time. As a result, we think it’s a great venue for trying local dishes at wallet-friendly prices.
What’s the concept behind Eme de Mariano?
Mariano, the owner, describes himself as a Malagueño born and bred. His first memories are always in the kitchen, with his mother or grandmother at the stove making a traditional local meal. He says he can easily conjure up the smell and taste of every dish.
He also champions local produce, all that fresh deliciousness Malaga has on its doorstep. From the land and sea, and available year-round.
So, it goes without saying that Eme de Mariano is about local cooking with tasty local products.
What does local dining in Malaga look like on the menu?
Think traditional tapas such as Russian salad and croquettes, and then soups, stews and casseroles. Rice dishes are a thing at Eme de Mariano where you can also try grilled meats.
Or sharing plates because you could easily order a few of these and dine deliciously without having a ‘main dish’ at all. We tried the following:
Russian salad – this comes with a green ‘olive’ on the top, a spherification of olive oil. You simply break it and mix it in with the salad. Eme de Mariano’s ensaladilla rusa is smooth and served just slightly cooler than room temperature. Our verdict? Tasty.
Gazpachuelo – this is traditionally a hot soup served in winter in Malaga, but Mariano believes it deserves to be served year-round. It’s therefore a fixture on his menu and his take (creamy with just the right number of potato, prawn and fish pieces) is as traditionally good as it should be.
Iberian ham croquettes – for many Spanish foodie, a croquette reveals the true calibre of a chef. Eme de Mariano has several types, but we chose the Iberian ham ones this time. They were as soft as could be, with the perfect combo of crunch on the outside and silky-smooth inside.
Tuna tartare – my favourite dish of the lot and my go-to at this restaurant. The tuna comes from Tarifa and is always super fresh. Mariano adds just a dash of lemon, EVOO and a smidge of soy sauce, and tops the tartare with fresh truffle. The result? Heaven a plate.
The restaurant also does an Iberian pork tartare, which is on our must-try list for next time.
About the bread
If you’re in Spain, you expect good bread with your meal always. All too often this expectation falls flat, but not at Eme de Mariano. In the basket were chunky slices of bread from Fermento, a local bakery. The taste is quite simply divine and even better when dripping with the end sof the ensaladilla rusa or gazpachuelo.
As we said earlier, mains double as sharing plates, so we’d recommend choosing at least a couple to ensure you enjoy the best. The choice runs between fish or meat and rice dishes (mostly paella).
Note that you can swap the rice for fideua noodles in all the rice options, and all are for a minimum of two people.
We went for two mains:
Cachopo – you couldn’t get further away from local dining in Malaga with this one because cachopo is traditionally from Asturias in Northern Spain. But Mariano has given it an Andalusian twist by using Iberian pork, Iberian ham and cheese in the breaded fillet. The result is a super tender burst of flavours, which come with the added bonus of hand-cut and cooked chips.
Chistorra paella – our choice came with chistorra sausage from northern Spain and seasonal vegetables. Top marks for taste and texture here.
All portions are generous, so go to this restaurant with an appetite or with at least two other people!
Fitting anything else in was a real challenge, but who can resist a torrija even if it’s July and 30 degrees? This is a traditional Easter dessert, similar to French toast. At Eme de Mariano, it’s made with brioche. Finger-licking good.
The home apple tart looked equally good, plus there are Malaga staples such as tocino de cielo (a very rich crème caramel) and leche frita (deep-fried custard).
In your glass
You can pair this local dining in Malaga with excellent wines, some of them Malaga-produced, while others are from slightly further afield. Ask the waiter for suggestions. There’s also a good choice by the glass.
Good for vegetarians?
The menu has several vegetarian options per se, but if you’d like more, ask the waiter. Mariano can make any of the rice and fideua dishes 100% veggie, for example.
If you’re a pescatarian, there’s lots to choose from.
Eme de Mariano has a city-centre location on Calle Císter, with the Museum of Malaga at one end and the Cathedral at the other. Sit on the terrace and face east and you enjoy great views of the Museum, for example.
The outside terrace is small but has lovely views and gets a bit of a breeze, so perfect for the summer heat. Inside, it’s light and airy, with soft beige walls and sparkling white tablecloths in the larger space at the back. Local artwork provides an interesting casual touch.
Friendly and efficient. We found the waiter especially helpful on portion size because we wanted to pace ourselves and not order too much.
We think this local dining in Malaga offers good value for money, particularly in terms of quality and taste. Expect to pay the following:
- Starters – from €6.50 to €22 (most cost €7-14).
- Mains – from €11.50 to €21, with rice at €18 per person. Note that the minimum order is two people.
- Desserts – €7.50
Good for kids?
If your children want to try some of the best takes on traditional food in town (and will appreciate it), then yes. And of course, Eme de Mariano is family-friendly. We do think, however, that this is more of an adult venue.
Yes – 100%.
Why put Eme de Mariano on your list of restaurants in Malaga?
- Tasty dishes from start to finish.
- Fresh produce cooked well.
- Kitchen open all day.
- Wallet-friendly prices.
Eme de Mariano opens daily, 1pm to midnight.
Calle Císter 15
Tel: 952 274 655
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