Years ago in Madrid, there was a bar which held the Guinness World Record for serving the widest range of beers from the smallest floor space of any bar on the planet. Well, in Malaga there is another bar deserving of a world record, although in this case it should be for the greatest number of unforgettable nights out in the smallest number of square feet (more difficult to judge but, you know. Guinness, we’re waiting to hear from you).
It’s not unusual to see sizeable queues outside the Marisqueria El Pimpi Florida, even before opening time. Once inside the crowds squeeze into the bar’s narrow corridor, buffeted by coplas and Eurovision hits, until finding a corner to make their own. And all with a smile.
And why all the bonhomie in this unholy crush of a watering hole? Because Marisquería el Pimpi Florida serves great seafood at good prices and, above all, it’s great fun. There is chaos, hustle, bustle, a lack of oxygen, a frenzy, a mixed crowd and spontaneous conversation.
You might see something similar in the Star Wars canteen (yes, that one) at the busiest time of day, whenever that is in Mos Eisley. In fact, there are few tourists who dare to enter this slice of untamed Spain. And when it’s time to leave? You might get hoisted into the air and crowdsurf your way out.
You want to smoke? Go through the kitchen and out to the tiny patio where you can swallow a bit of precious fresh air. And don’t forget to say hello to Rosa Mari, the lovely cook who dispatches plates of food at a rate as yet unknown to humans (Hey Guiness! There’s another one for you!)
El Pimpi Florida is located in El Palo, a fishing neighbourhood, on the outskirts of Malaga. The bar fits in well with its surroundings. Don’t expect finesse or subtle tapas. As soon as you enter, the scent of fried seafood tells you exactly what to expect: crab legs, concha fina (the large Malaga clam, eaten raw), whole squid, prawns and pumped-up gambas which look like they’ve been on steroids.
The food arrives quickly, especially given the crowds, but there are bowls of peanuts dotted around to nibble on if you can’t wait. If you want wine, the white from Huelva is probably your best option. There is also manzanilla, fino and a few other local tipples.
Before polishing off the first bottle of Huelva white, and while you can still look straight, it’s worth taking a look at the press clippings. These pay testament to the fame of the El Pimpi Florida, as well as the former owner Jesús López, who passed away just a couple of years ago. Jesús was the second generation to run the bar and his son, Pablo, is the third and current owner. Jesús’ untimely disappearance was well-documented in the regional press, who also documented the many family members who were involved in the world of theatre: Juanita Reina, Marifé de Triana and Imperio Argentina, all of whom enjoyed a plate of shrimp here in decades gone by.
When closing time rolls around, it’s traditional to sing El himno de la Legion. After the last loud lines of the song peter out, the clients – frm adolescents to grandparents – return to the outside world, that strange place where people don’t greet one another in the street, and where it doesn’t pay to raise your voice.
● Large plate of prawns
● Squid ‘a la plancha’
● 1 bottle white wine (Huelva)
● Total: €34.50
● Marisquería Pimpi Florida – El Palo
● Calle Almería, 13
● 29016 Málaga