La Moraga is a tapas bar located in a small alley off Malaga’s main pedestrian street, Marques de Larios. It’s at the end of Calle Fresca and might be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. We had heard about this place from a few people and it was highly recommended by a chef when we asked for restaurant suggestions in Malaga.
We reserved a table a few days earlier since we didn’t want to arrive and not have space at the tapas bar. Upon booking, we were told that all those who made a reservation (there is a small closed off section at the back where two tables are) must order the 35 euro menu de degustacion (tapas tasting menu). I inquired if we could order some other tapas as well and was told that normally there were seven tapas in the set menu and they were more than enough for a meal.
We arrived at the bar about 10 minutes after they open at 8 p.m. and were able to snag two stools at the corner of the long metal bar. Before we ordered, we indicated that we would like to cancel our table booking and just stay at the bar, the reason being we wanted to taste as many different tapas as we could and with the tasting menu, we both had to eat the same seven tapas throughout. The waitress told us that was fine and then went to tell the maitre’d that we were the table for two that had reserved and were now opting to stay at the bar. The maitre’d was upset and said that we couldn’t really do that since he would lose several seats at the bar etc. In the end, he agreed saying that this time he would allow it. (I say why not give the customer what they want? Why penalize the ones who reserve ahead of time by forcing them to eat the same seven tapas which was our main contention.)
After the issue was resolved and we were finally settled at the bar, we were given the menus. The tapas listed are divided into nine sections – Frias
(jars of spreadable items), Fritura
(rolled, fried bites), Pan
(stews) and finally Dulce
(sweet or desserts). Each section has about three or four items. We decided to try something from every section except for the soups which were all cold soups which is a bit strange especially since it’s gotten quite chilly recently. We made our choices and were served a small basket of bread – salty crackers and bits of Focaccia
which arrived with our wine, both Ribera del Duero
reds – a Montebaco
for myself and an Arzuaga Crianza
. The tapas came one after another soon afterwards so here’s a rundown on what we had.
From the cold tapas, we chose three tapas – Lasagna de Boquerones (white anchovy), Brandada de bacalao (cod puree) and the Ensalada de Kumato (tomato salad). The cod was a smooth mash of fish with just the right amount of salt while the boquerones and tomate were cheekily presented. The former served in an open sardine tin and was layers of anchovy interspersed with roasted peppers and roasted aubergines to make it look like a lasagna. The latter was quartered tomatoes draped with a bit of anchovy and drizzled with a creamy dressing for a modern take on a caesar salad. We also ordered a Morcilla y manzana (Blood sausage and apple) from the spreads as well. The mini mason jar was filled with a tasty spread of smashed blood sausage topped with a layer of apple puree and served with some Melba toast.
Next up were the fried items – croquetas de salchichon (a deep-fried sausage croquette) and the Flamenquin de espinaca (similar to a Cordon bleu, this version had ham filled with spinach and rolled in breadcrumbs).
This was followed by our bread choice – a mini Mollete de Antequera (a special white slipper bread from Antequera that is typical in Andalusia) filled with choricillo (small chorizos). It came warm with caramelized onions and spread with mayonesa de mostaza (mayonnaise mustard) and chipotle sauce.
There were only two pinchos, so we ordered them both – cordero con taboule and pollo barbacoa. The lamb were tender chunks of meat marinated in a spice rub on top of taboule while the chicken were barbecue-flavoured chunks served over crushed potatoes. The lamb was much tastier than the chicken and more tender too. The chicken pieces were a bit dry and frankly pretty boring after all the delicious tapas we had already had.
Last on the list was one of the four stewed items or guisos. We chose the ravioli de rabo de toro (oxtail ravioli) as rabo de toro is a typical dish in this region, especially with the many bullfights that take place around here.
Finally, we ended our meal with a tarta de limon (lemon tart) and the mousse de chocolate negro (dark chocolate mousse), both of which came in their signature mini-mason jars. The lemon tart was creamy and sweet-sour while the bitter chocolate was offset by a sliver of passion fruit.
So far so good – we managed to polish off ten delicious tapas and a dessert each totalling twelve mini dishes and actually only two short of the tasting menu we had initially booked for. The big difference is that we spent 53 Euros (including two glasses of wine and mineral water) instead of 70 Euros (tasting menu for two people).
My advice – forget about booking a table, get there early instead, grab a stool, enjoy the elbow-to-elbow crowded bar and dig in for some wonderful tapas. The best part about this little place is that it’s packed with a local clientele, something that’s rare in this part of Andalusia, and definitely a good sign.
Calle Fresca, 12
Tel: +34 952 226 851
**** Food – cheekily presented tapas and tasty little dishes
**** Atmosphere – a modern tapas bar bustling with a local clientele
*** Service – quick and efficient although they should change their table reservation policy