El Tintero is probably the most unique chiringuito (beach bar) in the area. It is an experience for all the senses. Definitely, it is a one-of-a-kind experience that you will never forget.
What is so unique about El Tintero?
There is no need to ask for a menu at El Tintero. In fact- there is no menu! Just find a table, sit down and watch the plates of delicious freshly prepared seafood, fish and paella fly by.
The team of waiters walk around shouting out the names of the dishes they are carrying. It’s the perfect opportunity to see the amazing variety of fish dishes available. When you see one that you fancy, just wave at the ‘camarero’ (waiter) and say, “Sí, por favor!” (We recommend going to El Tintero with a group of friends so that you can try even more of the delicious dishes). We also recommend taking ear plugs as the decibel level rises due to all the shouting waiters and the hundreds of customers chatting away!
First-time visitors to this unique beach-bar might mistakenly think that the service is somewhat lacking. Gradually, your empty plates, glasses and bottles begin to pile up on the table. The waiters never take them away. Why is that? Well, when it comes time to pay the bill, you have to catch the eye of the guy walking around shouting, “QUÉ YO COBRO!” (literally ‘that I charge’). He comes over to your table, counts all the dirty plates and glasses and then writes the amount of the bill on your paper tablecloth. What he sees is what you pay. All in all, it is an unforgettable experience.
How do I know the price of each dish?
If the plate is oval or round, they have a different price. You can see the different plates sizes hanging on the wall with the prices marked on them.
What is the history of El Tintero?
‘Tinta’ means ink or dye (as in colour dye). El tintero is the barrel where the dyeing took place in days gone by.
Obviously then this place has its origins in dyeing something. But what?
In the old days, fishing nets were made of cotton thread. Therefore, the nets needed to have more resistance and strength. So, the sailors took them to el tintero. Señor de la Torre, the owner, dyed the nets for the sailors. Once dyed, they hung the nets out to dry in the sun.
This long-standing custom of dyeing nets “died out” with the appearance of synthetic fiber fishing nets. Thus, it was time for Señor de la Torre to reinvent himself. He opened a small bar for sailors. Naturally, he gave it the name “El Tintero.”
The bar became a popular eating place for the locals. The owner’s 7- year old grandson would hang out at the restaurant every day. He would run around the restaurant shouting the names of the dishes that came out of the kitchen. The customers found this very amusing. The grandfather noticed this and told his wife, who was the cook, “You cook whatever you want and we will sell it.” (This was a relief for the kitchen staff as literacy levels were low at that time and reading orders was a problem for them). So cook away they did, and then the waiters took out the freshly cooked dishes and started shouting out the names of the fish they were carrying. And that is how their unique way of serving came into being.
In the early days, El Tintero was actually built on the sand of the beach. In an effort to eat more but pay less, some of the locals would bury a few plates in the sand. As a result, the owner decided to build a concrete floor so that there would be nowhere to hide the plates anymore. When preparing the area for the floor, workmen discovered around 4000 plates buried in the sand!
Once the concrete floor was in place, customers had to get more creative in hiding the plates. One memorable story is of a woman that was stopped on the way out because of the suspicious way she was walking. There was also liquid dripping out of her bag and folds of her dress. She had 14 plates hidden away in them!
Today, El Tintero is popular with locals and tourists alike. During the summer, they can cook around 1000 kilos of fish a day! The best time to eat here is between 13.00 and 16.00. Of course, the restaurant is also open in the evenings until 11:30 p.m.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to reserve a table. Therefore, it is best to arrive earlier than later. Furthermore, it is not unusual to have people who are waiting for a table to come and stand next to your table when they see that you are finishing up. It’s all part of the experience!
And remember, if you haven’t been to El Tintero, you haven’t been to Málaga!
Where is El Tintero?
Not far from the bustling centre of Málaga lies El Palo. Best reached on one of our rental bikes, El Palo is a cozy fishing district where you can find yes-you guessed it, fish! Lots of fish. Too much to choose from actually, and that is why El Tintero is such a great place!
El Tintero is the very last restaurant on the promenade in El Palo. It is impossible to miss due to its immense size. However, you will more likely ‘hear’ it before you see it!
How do I get to El Palo?
Rent one of our comfortable city bikes and enjoy a leisurely 7 km ride along the Mediterranean coast to arrive at El Palo. El Palo is the next fisherman’s neighbourhood along from Pedregalejo. Ask our friendly Malaga Bike team for directions.
Address of El Tintero Restaurant: Av. Salvador Allende, 340, 29017 Málaga.