After looking around, goggling at all the fabulous produce, the Café-Bar del Mercado, just to the left of the main entrance on Calle Atarazanas, is a terrific spot to have lunch. It’s not fancy but the food – mainly fish – is really fresh and perfectly fried or grilled.
Although this was the fist time I’d eaten here, I realised that it is run by the same people as the bar in Malaga’s Carmen market, which I wrote about in the Telegraph back in 2007 after some friends who live in the city had raved about it. Since then, the totally untouristy Carmen market has been revamped and the bar has apparently expanded a bit from the tiny hole-in-the-corner place it was then. I’ll have to go back and check it out, but meanwhile, the scene at the Atarazanas bar was just as frantic as the Carmen one had been. Don’t panic if you go there as the barmen will spot you and steer you to a space at the counter.
It’s a bit of a squeeze but well worth any discomfort. Order a beer, a glass of wine or the homemade sangría – don’t worry, it’s not naff to drink it here.
Then order a pincho de gamba – six juicy prawns on a wooden skewer, sprinkled with paprika and grilled. So simple, so good and only €2.75. There are monkfish and tuna brochettes too, as well as exquisite clams, dogfish, sardines and squid. And really tasty aubergines, peppers and artichokes fried in a tempura-like batter (€3.50). The cooking goes on across the aisle, so there are plates being handed over people’s heads all the time.
What with that and all the jostling, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in fact it’s a totally joyous experience that is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Open Monday to Saturday till 3pm, when the market closes.