Best typical dishes you can't miss in Malaga
Let’s admit it, during our holiday in a foreign country, one of the greatest pleasures is to taste the local food (at least for me 😊; and no, I don’t only think about eating).
So to answer your questions, “what to eat in Malaga”, “what are the best restaurants in Malaga” and “what are the typical dishes to try in Andalusia”, we have prepared for you some practical information on the top 5 typical dishes you should not miss during your stay in beautiful Andalusia.
Remember that when you’re in Malaga, during your customised visit, our team of Cooltoural local friends will be happy to give you the best tips and information on all the great places where you can taste Spanish delights. You’ll have best value for money!
But we’ll also give you lots of info and good tips on the best things to see and must-do activities in Andalusia according to your tastes and interests.
Dear friends, joking aside, get ready to savour the 5 best Andalusian specialities! 😋
1. What is the “espeto”?
“Espeto” is a wooden or metal skewer. Typically, in Malaga when we talk about” espetos”, we’re referring to sardine skewers, but “espeto” can also have a brochette of other fish like local mackerel, bream or even squid.
This way of eating sardines is very common and typical in Malaga and Andalusia.
2. How is the “espeto” prepared?
These sardine skewers are prepared on a wood fire with coarse sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and that’s it. It’s so fresh and couldn’t be easier. 😋
Furthermore, as for the nutritional aspect, don’t deprive yourself: sardines are rich in proteins, vitamins B3, B12 and D (besides, eating them on the beach in the sun, you’ll have more vitamin D). Sardines like many fish are also rich in omega-3 (w3). There’s no reason not to enjoy them!
3. When to eat sardines in Malaga?
There is a tradition that says sardines should not be eaten during the months which contain the letter “r”. This means September to April. The scientific reason is simply that the waters of the Mediterranean Sea are warm enough between May and August to allow the little sardines to grow and develop their unique delicious taste.
This tradition may of course vary depending on the year. Some years have an excellent April, others not, etc.
4. Where to eat “espetos de sardinas” (sardines skewers) in Malaga?
In general, the good places to eat fish skewers, and in particular the best espetos, are very close to the beach. Therefore, we recommend the “chiringuitos”. Chiringuitos are little restaurants on the beach, perfect for fresh seafood.
What better way to savour these delicious sardine skewers, feet in the sand and an awesome sea view? Can you picture it? Me too. 😎
Our top 3 recommendations to eat espetos on the beaches of Malaga are (drum roll …) 🥁🥁
1. What are “boquerones”?
I hope you like fish because we will continue with fish. While you’re so close to the sea, you shouldn’t miss it.
“Boquerones” are simply anchovies and one of the typical dishes eaten in Malaga. If your last memory of an anchovy is on a mediocre pizza and seemed to be too salty, I can only tell you one thing: I had my reservations. But I’ll tell you one more thing: give these little anchovies a second chance with the Spanish touch! 😊
It should be pointed out that the anchovy together with the sardine, and the local mackerel are the 3 most consumed fish in Spain.
Cooltip, “boquerones” is the plural and “boquerón” is the singular form.
Another interesting fact about this fish😊is that people from Malaga are sometimes called “boquerones”. The success of their anchovies and their “addiction” to this little fish gave them their “sweet” nickname.
There is absolutely nothing derogatory about this label. It’s quite the contrary actually. It is with great pride that a person from Malaga would tell you “soy Boquerón” (literally “I’m an anchovy” but it just means I’m from Malaga).
There are even some ads selling local products with expressions like “boquerones desde 1985” for example or “anchovies since 1985”.
2. How are the boquerones prepared?
Boquerones in Malaga, are mainly prepared in two ways: they can be either fried or picked (in vinegar).
OK so for the fried anchovies, there are no big secrets as to the preparation.
For the anchovies in vinegar, the fish has been left to macerate in white wine vinegar and is served with olive oil and optionally with garlic and parsley. It’s a delight!
As I said, I really wasn’t a big fan of anchovies but I gave it try in Spain and now I strongly recommend them. 😋
From the point of view of nutrition, for the vinegar version, can really be enjoyed without limits, filling you up with vitamins and omega 3s.
For the fried version, it all depends on your affinity with your diet and your taste for fried food. So no comment from me. 😊
3. Where to eat the best anchovies in Malaga?
Fried or in vinegar anchovies like sardines, should be savoured in the chiringuitos on the beach.
So we would recommend the same top 3 chiringuitos in Malaga for the boquerones as we have for the sardines.
To these 3 options, I’ll add a fourth one that is in the centre in Malaga and that is the Mesón de Cervantes restaurant. It is in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in Malaga and offers traditional Spanish dishes revisited with a Latin American touch (the owners being originally from Argentina).
They offer for example the typical Spanish “boquerones en vinagre” (anchovies in vinegar) served with a delicious mango sauce and a divine guacamole sauce. And I have to admit that these 2 sauces combine very well with the famous anchovies.
Cooltip, “Calle” in Spanish means street.
Another very enjoyable spot that few travellers are lucky to discover is Los Delfines restaurant that offers a wide variety of traditional Spanish dishes and dishes from Malaga, with very good products, good service and excellent prices.
Don’t be surprised if you are the only tourists to eat there 😊; this restaurant is a local spot that few travellers know about. We were talking about cultural immersion, right? 😉
THE RUSSIAN SALAD
1. What is the Russian salad? What are its origins? History of the Russian salad.
Contrary to what its name might indicate, from the point of view of calories, the Russian salad can’t be really classified as a salad ;P one of the key ingredients of its recipe is in fact mayonnaise.
This salad is also known as the “Olivier’s salad”, Lucien Olivier being a French-Belgian chef who may have made this dish famous in his restaurant in Moscow (around 1860). We can’t say with certainty that he is the inventor of its recipe as the name “Russian salad” had been used in cookbooks years before.
Furthermore, this dish is eaten in many countries in Europe, but also in Asia, and America. The variants of its recipe are as numerous as the countries where this salad appeared. Some variations are prepared with caviar and salmon, others are simply made with tuna, but the basis is almost always potatoes, vegetables, and of course mayonnaise.
2. How is the Russian salad prepared in Spain?
In Spain, in every family this salad is prepared in a different way. However, we can say that we often have in its preparation the following ingredients: potatoes, tuna, shallots, olives, pickles, carrots, sweet peppers, and I let you guess that last ingredient. Yes, the mayonnaise! 🤣 In some restaurants, the chefs might be very generous, maybe even too generous with the mayonnaise, so we will recommend some places where the Russian salad is lighter.
As a matter of fact, during your visit with your Cooltoural local companion, you will also have the opportunity to discover many more great spots, with very fair prices where you can enjoy all these specialties in Malaga.
Another curiosity that has marked the history of this dish, is from the period after the Spanish civil war, in the 40’s. To avoid any association with Soviet or communist influence, there has been an attempt to change the name of the salad into “national salad” or “imperial salad”. This attempt failed, as you can imagine and the Russian salad kept its name. Personally I find it crazy/funny that politics entered the kitchens, what do you think?
3. Where to eat the best “ensalada rusa” (Russian salad) in Malaga?
This dish can be eaten in many restaurants in Malaga and often as a “tapa” (small portion of food) served with your drink.
In the two restaurants below, you will enjoy the typical Spanish Russian salad without feeling too guilty in terms of calories (meaning they don’t put too much mayonnaise like other places).
Los Delfines, in Malagueta beach is our first recommendation that we have written about previously and Los Gatos in the city-centre, in Uncibay square.
“Los delfines” means the dolphins and “Los gatos” means the cats, yes we love animals 😊
LA ENSALADA MALAGUEÑA
1. What is the “ensalada Malagueña” or Malaga salad?
Fresh, complete, and super healthy, this salad is 100% Malaga origin (at least as far as we know). This typical Malaga dish is often prepared in summer, with the arrival of good weather precisely for its freshness.
2. How is the “la ensalada Malagueña” prepared?
The 5 main ingredients for the preparation of this traditional dish are: potatoes, cod, oranges, onions or shallots, and olives.
Once more, for this salad, there are many variants according to the chef and family.😋
It can contain for example additional ingredients like hard-boiled eggs or green chilli. Another alternative would be to add fresh cut parsley.
In some variations of this traditional dish, the cod can be replaced by tuna.
The seasoning is made with coarse sea salt, olive oil, and sherry vinegar.
3. Where to eat the best “ensalada Malagueña” in Malaga?
Once more a very good spot to taste this fresh salad is los Delfines restaurant (contact details above).
LA FRITURA MALAGUEÑA
1. What is the “fritura Malagueña”?
The “fritura malagueña” (or Malaga fried seafood) is a mixture of anchovies (our famous boquerones), squids, hake, whiting, shrimp, and possibly other fish and shellfish, all fried as you can imagine.
Well, from the point of view of nutrition and diet, it isn’t necessarily the best choice, we have to admit. We are talking about a whole fried dish here (besides, you’ll see that many typical dishes in Malaga, Andalusia, and Spain in general are fried). But it is so good and the fish is cooked just enough to be perfectly crunchy. It should be allowed at least once!
2. How is the “fritura Malagueña” prepared?
The preparation is quite easy as all the ingredients are cleaned and fried together.
According to the Spanish, the success of the dish depends in the quality of the oil. It is usually made with high quality olive oil.
3. Where to eat “fritura Malagueña” in Malaga?
The best spots to eat fritura malagueña are the chiringuitos that are on the beach (just like the espetos); another restaurant in the city centre is “los Mellizos”which is on a small street perpendicular to Larios street.
I hope this practical info will help you open up to new culinary horizons during your stay in Malaga. And don’t forget that our Cooltoural local team will be happy to make you discover many more typical dishes and recommend you the best restaurants here that only locals know!
Take the plunge and book your tailor-made tour prepared just for you with your tastes and interests, and realized just for you (alone or with your couple or with you family or with your group of friends) and nobody else! 😊
Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any question.
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