Recreation of the Café de Chinitas project by Eduardo Criado. SUR
Iconic Malaga café to reopen 87 years after it closed
Food and drink

Iconic Malaga café to reopen 87 years after it closed

Café de Chinitas, which was frequented by Federico García Lorca, Picasso and Salvador Dalí is to open its doors to the public again this summer

Jesús Hinojosa


Monday, 29 April 2024, 22:29


The voices of Malaga singers such as Juan Breva and Antonio Chacón still resound in its walls. The echo of applause for the performances of Estrellita Castro, Pastora and Tomás Pavón, Manolo Caracol, Cojo de Málaga and Juanito Valderrama can still be heard and the presence of Federico García Lorca, Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Vicente Aleixandre remains remains ever present.

Although it closed its doors in 1937, the history of Café de Chinitas is still very much alive in the memory of Malaga, and this history is about to be brought back to life as the venue, located in a passageway of the same name next to Plaza de la Constitución, is set to reopen.

After more than five years of bureaucracy and building work, the project to recover this legendary building is now ready to be put into operation with the final work to adapt the ground floor premises, the windows of which announce the forthcoming opening of a hotel and catering business that will revive not only the building, but the name: 'El Café de Chinitas'.

Behind the recovery of this building are Alicia Lapaz Proch, daughter of Adolfo Lapaz, one of the pioneers of tourism on the Costa del Sol, and her husband, who divide their time between Malaga and Switzerland. "We are very excited, we hope that everything is finished well and that Malaga appreciates it. We have been working on this project since 2018," said the owner of the property, who has already registered the name 'El Café de Chinitas'.

The aim is that the refurbishment works, according to the project of the interior designer Eduardo Criado, from Studio1969, can be completed in July so that the establishment can open its doors this summer and be up and running for the Malaga feria. "We are doing everything we can to make it a success", said the owners, who are going to run the business directly, which will follow the concept of a traditional tavern with Mediterranean cuisine, using top quality products.

On the premises there will be bulls' heads and a collection of botijos.
On the premises there will be bulls' heads and a collection of botijos. Sur

Eduardo Criado has designed a venue in which the memory of the original café, which actually occupied the first floor of the building, is very present. Thus, around a circular bar, marked by the marble columns that have been recovered from the ground floor that housed the Romero de la Cruz weaving business, there will be several high tables with stools where you can enjoy tapas and a menu of the day. "The idea is for it to have the feel of a tavern, but with first class ingredients", Criado pointed out.

On the walls there will be no shortage of old posters and even some bulls' heads to recreate the atmosphere of the café that Federico García Lorca immortalised with his popular composition 'En el Café de Chinitas dijo Paquiro a su Hermano: Soy más valiente que tú, más torero y más gitano', (in the café de Chinitas said Paquiro to his brother: I'm braver than you, more bullfighter and more gypsy.)

The words have been present in a mosaic on the façade of the building since 1986. Live music laws in this area of the city centre prevent the business from having performances, but there are plans for a piano, just like the original café had. In addition, similar to what El Pimpi does with its barrels, the premises will have botijos (jugs) that can be signed by celebrities, creating a unique gallery.

Building that housed the Café de Chinitas, which is now announcing the opening of its new premises.
Building that housed the Café de Chinitas, which is now announcing the opening of its new premises. Marilú Báez

The owners of this business hope that it will be frequented by the large number of tourists who pass through El Pasaje de Chinitas every day, led by the guides who show them some of the most unique corners of the heart of the city.

The Monjas Agustinas Descalzas convent was once located in this enclave next to the Plaza de la Constitución, of which a doorway still remains. The monastery was demolished in the mid-19th century after being acquired by Antonio María Álvarez de Quindós y Gutiérrez de Aragón, who had been the civil and military governor of Málaga.

For his personal enjoyment he fitted out on the first floor of this building in the new passageway, built around 1857 and to which he initially lent his surname, "a small theatre for private use and a small court of friends", which ended up becoming the Café de Chinitas. It was known for its illustrious artists and visitors and also for the revelry, fights and excesses, which were behind several closures (and subsequent openings) over the years.

Now, after an investment of more than seven million euros to recover and refurbish this building, which will also be home to a dozen holiday apartments on the upper floors, everything seems to be ready for the Café de Chinitas to once again be part of Malaga city, 87 years after the original closed.

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