The beautiful port city of Málaga is home to one of Andalusia’s most dynamic café cultures. Culture Trip takes a look at the city’s best places for breakfast, brunch or a snack, where you can enjoy everything from churros dipped in chocolate to vegetarian chorizo.
Málaga – a vibrant, cosmopolitan city on Spain’s Costa del Sol – is a café lover’s paradise, offering a profusion of places to eat and drink, including many vegetarian and vegan options. Whether you’re after a healthy breakfast to start the day, a comfortable place to read or work, or somewhere for tapas and beer in the afternoon, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Culture Trip takes a look at the establishments that are reshaping Málaga’s café scene, including the city’s first-ever speciality coffee shop and a hipster hangout specialising in bike rentals and tacos.
Situated a couple of blocks behind the Atarazanas food market, Bertani Café became Málaga’s first speciality coffee shop when it opened in 2015. Its friendly Argentinian owner and her baristas are serious about coffee and proudly display their certificates of accreditation on the wall. The cappuccino is exceptional: the milk stays frothy right until the end. Bertani’s interior is cheerful but tiny, with just a couple of ledges to lean on and no seating, but para llevar (takeaway) is an option. Soy and almond milk are available, as are sweet treats and juices.
Just over the road from Atarazanas, in the heart of Málaga’s Old Town, is the legendary Casa Aranda. For almost 80 years, this hugely popular café has been the city’s number-one spot for churros, a Spanish breakfast staple. They’re served with a cup of thick melted chocolate for dipping and best enjoyed with a mug of Aranda’s excellent coffee. For travellers without a sweet tooth, tostadas (or pitufos, as they’re also called in Málaga) are available with a variety of toppings, including olive oil (aceite), freshly grated tomato (tomate) and or ham (jamón).
Located close to Oasis Backpackers Hostel – a top choice for travellers visiting Málaga on a budget – and the beautiful Plaza de la Constitución, Mia Coffee Shop is a must for coffee aficionados. Its espressos and cappuccinos are among the best in Málaga and you can choose from a variety of different beans. Staff are often given to singing as they prepare your coffee, which you can pair with a slice of one of Mia’s tasty vegan cakes. The cosy interior is decorated with home-made items, and there are a couple of tables outside that are perfect for people watching. Soy and almond milk are available.
Situated on the same tranquil square as Mia, Dulces Dreams Café & Hostel is known for its cakes and sweet treats. The three set breakfasts or brunches on the menu are great value, especially the Petit, which includes zumo (juice) and coffee or tea, a tostada with olive oil and tomato or butter and jam, plus yoghurt with fruit and honey for just €6 (£5). Savoury lunch dishes and tapas are also available, all of which are freshly made. The café doubles up as a contemporary art gallery displaying works by local artists, and the attached rooms provide a comfortable, inexpensive base from which to explore Málaga.
Boasting a prime location next to the Picasso Museum, La Tetería is a Moorish-themed tea shop where your aromatic brew – leaves and all – is served up in a delicate silver pot. A good selection of sweet and savoury goodies is also on offer, including crepes, baklava and home-made cakes (the chocolate and cheesecake are delicious, although be warned: portions are generous). A small terrace faces the attractive San Agustín Church and is a great spot for soaking up the sun and people watching. If you’re after something a bit stronger than tea, there are several artisanal beers to choose from.
Often packed when the surrounding establishments are empty, Café con Libros is situated on the wonderful Plaza de la Merced, where Pablo Picasso was born (his birthplace is now a small museum just a few doors down). A colourful, book-lined interior provides a good space in which to work or read, but the café’s key draw is a spacious terrace out on the square, in front of which buskers often provide entertainment. Libros offers all the breakfast staples – tostadas, zumos and coffee – as well as tapas, beers and wines. Given its location in the trendy Merced barrio, Libros’ prices are competitive.
Just off the central hub of Plaza de la Constitución, hipster hangout El Último Mono (The Last Monkey) is all about mismatched furniture, with stools fashioned from old computers – yes, really – and exposed light bulbs and brickwork. Must-tries are the fresh juices, smoothies and muffins, with plenty of treats such as peanut cookies also on offer. A big board outside answers frequently asked questions (in both Spanish and English), and the English-speaking staff go out of their way to make you happy. There’s a decent amount of space inside and several stools outside, too.
Two years away from its 100th birthday, Café Central boasts a large, sunny terrace on Plaza de la Constitución. You’ll know exactly what you’re ordering thanks to a wall-mounted menu inside, which shows all the different types of cafés and their ratios of coffee to milk – from the powerful solo (100% café, 0% leche) to the creamy nube(cloud) (10% café, 90% leche). Central also offers varied breakfast, lunch, dinner and tapas menus. Prices are a little more expensive than elsewhere in the centre, but hey – look where you’re sitting.
Located in the heart of the vibrant Merced neighbourhood, Julia Bakery is ideal for travellers with a seriously sweet tooth: all of its sweets and cakes are made on the premises, hence the amazing smell when you enter. Must-tries include the vegan carrot cake and blueberry and raspberry scones. Savoury breakfast or brunch options include the vegan full English (extra avocados, no eggs) and the eggs benedict with a superb hollandaise sauce. Julia is also a popular spot for lunch, offering original dishes such as avocado toast with chickpeas. The friendly, helpful owner is often behind the counter herself.
Funky Recyclo is located on the banks of Málaga’s (mainly dry) Guadalmedina River, away from the crowds but still close to all the main attractions. There are bikes pinned to walls and hanging from the ceiling (the owners also do bike rentals), contributing to an informal, alternative vibe. Even by Málaga’s standards, Recyclo is notably vegetarian/vegan friendly – there’s even veggie chorizo – and you can create your own breakfast from a range of options and add-ons. If you’re visiting later in the day, try the prawn, avocado and honey glaze tacos or one of the burgers. Wi-Fi connection is also excellent.