Discover where to find the best vegan food in Malaga, Spain, including the Top 3 restaurants and my recipe re-creations of the best dishes from our trip.
I didn’t need much convincing to accept an invitation to a friend’s wedding in sunny Costa del Sol. We made a week of it visiting glitzy seaside towns and quaint hillside villages, sipping freshly squeezed juice from sun-ripened oranges and of course, it was also the perfect excuse to spend a day sampling the finest vegan treats that Malaga has to offer.
Spanish cuisine has a strong focus on freshly prepared dishes using an abundance of local produce, therefore it may come as a surprise that veganism is only just making an entrance in the bigger towns and cities. My research led me to Malaga to sample three very different vegan hot spots.
Malaga itself is a lively and fascinating city with boutique shops sprinkled along the charming cobbled back streets, rustic brick bars running down palm tree lined streets and urban art around every corner. The glamorous and modern port is breathtaking and it is well worth taking a mid-morning stroll down the promenade.
Make your first stop of the day the vegan brunch spot Rawattitude; a small bar-front cafe with covered outdoor seating from which to take in the bustle of the Malaga streets from afar.
The English menu and friendly English-speaking staff make ordering one of the 20 or so options easy; from acai bowls to club sandwiches and toasties. There is also a specials board with 8 or so additional options and a dedicated smoothie and milkshake menu.
To drink we opted for a banana and peanut butter almond milk smoothie, which was delicious; creamy, nutty, sweet and moreish – so delicious in fact that I’ve re-created it here.
Our pre-brunch snack was a healthy acai bowl with fruit and granola which was a little on the runny side but tasty none-the-less! Next was a club sandwich and a toastie, each with fantastically tangy beetroot humous, salad and melted cheese on spelt toast. The ‘cheese’ was excellent, one of those that you eye suspiciously wondering how on earth it can be vegan and easily good enough to fool any non-vegan.
Rawwattitude was a good all rounder, reasonably priced and a quick and friendly stop off for brunch. It is perfectly located to take you on to a stroll along the modern marina, soaking up the view of the city and the hilltop castle ruins. Make sure to walk back to the city through the stunning Parque de Malaga, which will provide welcome shade from the midday sun and a relaxing walk through the beautiful and well established gardens.
El Karmem Yoga Cafe
Back in the city down a quiet back street sits a tiny vegan cafe called El Karmem, with just a handful of tables and a service not to be missed.
El Karmem serves fresh juices, burgers, cakes and tapas with a Mediterranean theme. As we stood reading the menu outside a lovely lady approached us, who we presumed was the owner. She was friendly, helpful and spoke good English as she explained every dish of the relatively small, but perfectly adequate, menu in detail.
The cafe itself was immaculately clean, tidy and loved; you could tell from the service that the owner truly loved what she did and this was a passion for her. It was like being served by your mum or grandma; she was eager to feed you up and was absolutely thrilled, her face lighting up when you liked something!
There were lots of nice little touches to our lunch, which started with complimentary tomato and oregano raw crackers. We ordered a lentil burger, which came on a fresh, soft granary bun with ratatouille as a salsa and a salad on the side. The ratatouille was divine, by far one of the best I’ve tried; rich and creamy with a smooth flavour and a hint of tang from wonderfully fresh ingredients that have enjoyed a slow cook. Be sure to try out my recipe re-creation of this fantastic dish here.
Of course every meal of the day needs a dessert and at El Karmem this came in the form of strawberry and chocolate ice creams which were home made and blended to order. The strawberry ice cream was much like a sorbet with tonnes of tangy, fresh strawberry flavour which was refreshing after a morning ambling around the streets of Malaga in the sun. The chocolate ice cream was made from a mix of cacao and carob, making it impossibly rich.
We also ordered a sample size of the raw cake which was made from beetroot, avocado and fig – not what I was expecting but refreshing and something a bit different; the figs and beetroot went well together.
Whilst there was no kitchen at El Karmam so most dishes would have been pre-prepared, they did a good job and the friendly service, family feel and wholesome, home cooked grub made this a pleasure to stop at.
Spend the afternoon exploring the museums and galleries and then hop in your car for a short drive to Torremolinos to enjoy a beach front drink and stroll before dinner at the incredible vegan restaurant The Wala Room.
The Wala Room
The Wala Room may not look like much from the outside but you sure are in for a treat if you are headed there for dinner tonight!
A vegan restaurant with a half raw-half cooked theme to the menu in order to give diners the benefit of raw food whilst making it accessible to a wider range of people with the cooked element.
The waiter was friendly, knowledgable and incredibly helpful. He spoke excellent English and went through the menu in detail, explaining each of the 15-20 dishes. There were a selection of both healthy and slightly naughtier dishes on offer including cheesy jalapeño nachos, diced mango and shiitake mushroom tartare, a selection of courgetti mains with a variety of sauces to top, three different burgers and two raw desserts.
We started with the mango and shiitake mushroom tartare with a side of cheesy jalapeño nachos. The tartare, which was chosen mainly to make us feel slightly better about the somewhat less healthy dishes that were about to go down in the rest of the meal, certainly woke up the taste buds. It is packed full of punchy flavours with tangy mango and creamy mushrooms, diced into a smartly presented and well seasoned starter.
The nachos were a dish of crunchy tortilla chips smothered in a homemade creamy vegan cheese sauce made from potatoes, with a scattering of jalapeños and finely diced red pepper.
The main course was the piece de resistance from our trip to Malaga; a Mexican burger topped with an American-style melty cheese slice, jalapeños and caramelised onions all housed in a soft sesame seed bun. IN-CRED-IBLE.
The burger was apparently made from lentils and mushrooms but you would struggle to believe it with it’s chargrilled flavour and crisp on the outside, soft on the inside texture. The burger came with a side of fresh, hand-cut chips that were of British chip shop excellence and homemade side sauces including veganaise (tasted just like the real thing), mustard (punchy) and raw ketchup naturally sweetened with dates (delicious).
This burger was pure vegan wizardry, the type of vegan dish that makes you want to bounce up and down in your restaurant chair with excitement and let out a little squeal when it arrives.
After a full day of delectable vegan dishes, I almost didn’t have dessert (well I say almost, for a millisecond I thought it might tip me over the edge then I realised that was ridiculous, who doesn’t have dessert?). Boy am I glad I did!
The dessert was chocolate torte with a crumbly ‘biscuit’ base, a rich chocolate ganache topped with sliced pears and a side of light and airy coconut cream whip. The texture of the chocolate ganache was smooth and light so you can scoff a hearty slice without needing to take a lie down half way through (thankfully…). It was out of this world delicious and I had fun re-creating the recipe here!
Whilst The Wala Room has plenty of healthy options, the inventive Mexican burger and raw chocolate torte stole the show. This was by far the best restaurant of the day. The burger looked like it had just stepped out of a fast food restaurant (albeit a luxury version) which is incredibly exciting because it is this sort of creative and inventive dish that makes veganism more accessible for the masses. This burger got the non-vegan thumbs up from my dinner guest who was impressed and rightly so!
Here’s a list of my top three vegan eats in Malaga, Spain:
- The Wala Room – An exciting and inventive array of raw and cooked dishes that are out of this world delicious.
- El Karmem Yoga Cafe – A quaint and cosy cafe where you can enjoy home-cooked food in a homely setting.
- Rawattitude – A quick and easy brunch stop for acai bowls, sandwiches, snacks and smoothies.
My recipe recreations:
- Chocolate and pear torte from The Wala Room – A deliciously smooth and creamy chocolate torte with a biscuit base and lightly spiced poached pears.
- Rich and tangy ratatouille from El Karmem – Easy peasy to make and slow cooked to perfection; great for topping pasta or as a burger salsa-sub.
- Nutty chocolate and banana mudshake from Rawattitude – Whipped up in one minute and packed full of nutrients making it the perfect post workout snack or on-the-go breakfast.