A Handful of Favorite Cafes + Eats in Malaga, Spain
It is not very often that I allow myself to have a real vacation. Almost every trip I take has a defined “purpose” and is usually designed in order to further my dance training, make connections and meet new people in the dance community, teach workshops, or something along those lines. It has been far too long since I took a trip that was a little more aimless. Traveling for traveling’s sake.
After a productive week in Madrid, I flew to Malaga to meet Marouan and a couple friends who had all driven up the coast from Tangier. It was a real proper vacation- an excuse for us all to forget about work and obligations for a couple days, laze around by the beach, wander a new city, and just relax. It definitely took me a little bit of time and patience to be able to ease into the wonderful nothingness of it all and let go. Because we were in a group, I had to surrender even more of my usual controlled hold on what to do, where to go, what to see, and where to eat. Going with the flow of other’s plans is not always my strong suit, but I’m improving with practice. Once I released my hold on the reins and embraced vacation-mode, I could enjoy the long weekend in its entirety. I felt my body and mind melting into a more relaxed state with every second we were there. Coming from a week of intense dancing and recovery, it turned out that my poor muscles needed the heat and salt water to loosen them up again.
“As you swim, you are washed of all the excrescences of so-called civilization, which includes the incapacity to be happy under any circumstances.”
Malaga is a sunny, winding, sea-breeze swept city, a mix of old and new, local and tourist, patched together in a random sort of way. You can easily wander down a commercial street with neon signs for H&M and Starbucks, then immediately turn the corner to find a quaint hidden side street where a family wedding is spilling out of a white-washed church and locals are drinking coffee under little cafe awnings. There are beautiful details in the architecture and buildings- something I have grown to appreciate wherever I am, reminding me constantly to look up more often.
In the end we didn’t actually spend all that much time in the city itself since the sun scorched the cobblestones from midmorning to early evening, plus on Sunday we decided to go to a smaller town just north of Malaga, Nerja, with the sole purpose of spending a whole day by the sea. Nerja was both stunning and crowded, filled to the brim with other beach-goers and sight-seers, but somehow that didn’t seem to take away from the magic of the chain link of little beach inlets, curving around the rough, piercing blue edges of the Mediterranean.
I tried not to do too much research before arrival this time around, because I know that I can get a little too into “oh we have to try this restaurant and have coffee at this cafe and have ice cream and paella etc. etc.” It doesn’t always leave a lot of room for personal flexibility. However, once we were there and looking for places to lunch, brunch and have dinner, I did some quick searches to find a couple of what Marouan laughingly calls “Ruby-spots.” Generally, cute cafes with plenty of “hippie-ish food” on the menu. My minimal last-minute research did pay off and even though we were only there three days total, I gathered up a handful of our favorite spots, just in case any of you ever take a trip to this charming, sunny beach-side city.
We ate lunch here on our first full day all together, and it did not disappoint. A cool kind of cafe-bar, filled with old bicycles, up-cycled furniture, and cozy nooks to settle in, chat, eat, and drink. Their food was all organic, homemade fare, with delicious veggie burgers, falafel, tacos, green juices- the works. Honestly, I probably could have eaten there every day of our trip.
Plaza Enrique García Herrera, 16, Malaga, Spain
This cafe is attached to a hostel and therefore filled with mostly other foreigners and visitors to Malaga, but the food and the atmosphere is just lovely. We had a late-morning brunch there, downing coffee and eating things like avocado toast with salmon, acai bowls, and a jazzed-up version of the classic spanish pan con tomate.
Plaza Martires 6, 29008 Malaga, Spain
This cute little health food store is where we stocked up on some things that are harder and more expensive to come by in Morocco- coconut oil, chia seeds, quinoa, all of my hippie-food staples that I like to keep around for nostalgia's sake. The store also has a small cafe attached with fresh juices, coffee and snacks.
Calle Tomás Heredia 19, Malaga, Spain
Marouan and I went on our own little lunch date here and loved the open, airy space and giant delicious lamb burgers piled high with fresh toppings. Doesn’t get much better.
Calle Álamos, 18, 29008 Málaga, Spain
In the glittering beach town of Nerja, the playa is studded with tons of fish restaurants and cafes to choose from, but this one stood out as being a little bit more crowded with locals and had a great view from the terrace of surfers riding the waves. A full morning of walking, swimming, and beach-lounging had made us starving, so our table shared a fish frittura, patatas bravas, one of my new favorite foods in the world- fried eggplant drizzled in dark honey (I ate most of that), and a giant, fresh seafood paella.
Calle Merida 3 | Playa de la Torrecilla, 29780 Nerja, Spain
I’m hoping to travel back up to Andalucia coast of Spain in the future and explore even more, because three days really wasn’t enough to soak in all of the beauty.
If you have been to this region, please share and tell me where else to visit on our next chill-out, full-body-relaxation vacation.