Years ago in Málaga, there was another neighborhood, tucked into the hill behind the Alcazaba just next to the sea. At the gates of the old Moorish door, the neighborhood of La Coracha was quintessentially Andalusian with its white houses carved out of the mountain of Gibralfaro and made with bricks taken from the old walls of the Alcazaba. Unfortunately, in the 90’s, the city decided to construct a cobblestone path with gardens for people to walk and enjoy the view. The cost was the loss of this traditional Málaga neighborhood. All the houses are gone, except for one. The house at number 1, La Coracha is still standing on the corner opposite the bullring and it is home to La Odisea de los Vinos.
La Odisea, which translates to “The Odyssey,” gets its name from the long fight the family went through to keep their home despite pressure from the city to buy the house. It is now home to a fantastic Málaga wine and tapas bar that can’t be missed. When you walk through the door, the first thing you will notice is the light. In true Andalusian style, the thick walls and windows let in just the necessary amount of light. On the walls are photos and memorabilia from Málaga through the past century. It’s a bit like going to your grandmother’s house, if your gran was good at saving interesting bits of cultural trivia.
All along the righthand side of the main room are wooden wine barrels filled with different sweet wines from Málaga. If you aren’t sure what to order the waiters, who are mostly family members of the grandmother who now owns the old home, are eager to help. Once you’ve chosen which wine you’d like to sample, they will saunter over to the barrels and pull a glass for you. It’s really fun to watch, and even more fun to sample. My favorite is the Málaga Cream, although I also like a good Pajarete. Of course, if you aren’t into sweet wine, there are also local beers and wines from the mountains near the town of Ronda or the Axarquia.
As you continue through what must have been the family’s living room and dining room at some point in the past, you’ll come to the back patio. With stone floors and plants hanging from the walls, a few small statues and plates decorate the little garden space. There is even an old bunker from the Spanish civil war. They have four tables where you can sit and enjoy your wine and some tapas if the weather is nice. It’s the type of place that makes you stop and think how lucky you are to be in Andalucía, enjoying the moment.
Once upon a time, the grandmother used to make a Spanish Omelette upstairs and would carry it, lovingly, down the steps to the small kitchen so that the patrons would have something to snack on. While the tortilla making gran has since retired, the idea of snacking on a little something as you sip on your wine has not been lost on the rest of the family. You can order tapas or raciones (bigger portions to share) of some Andalucian classics. We suggest the oxtail croquettes that come with some fried potatoes and a delicious, slightly spicy dipping sauce. We also tried some cured sheep’s cheese, carrots dressed with traditional spices, and the migas (seasoned breadcrumbs mixed with little bits of chorizo sausage).
From the first minute at La Odisea, you feel like you are being welcomed into the family home. Everyone is proud of the home, the food, and the wine, all 100% malagueño, of course. In a world where chain restaurants are the norm, and the great old bars in the center of town are filled by more and more tourists, La Odisea is a welcome breath of fresh Andalucian air. Worth every bit of “The Odyssey” it took to save this house and these traditions. We ruskommend La Odisea de los Vinos with 5 boquerones and hope it will be here for years to come!