In Granada, the tapas is an essential part of the city and so it becomes a means of having a taster of the city experience! I love a posh bar crawl or, in this case, tapas tour. Going from bar to bar, popping in and out of cathedrals and shops, and, in general, just enjoying the city is one of my favorite ways to embrace the local culture.
Tapas in Andalusia cities in southern Spain is a small portion of a savory snack served complimentarily when you order a beer or a glass of wine in a tapas bar. I have been to San Sebastián and Barcelona, so my expectation of a tapas was more in line with pinxos found in the Basque region. Pinxos or pinchos (which are different from each other) are small snacks, often a bit of cheese, or jamón on a slice of baguette served with a beer or glass of wine. Almost like bruschetta or crostini. In Granada, the tapas are hearty and generous! We repeatedly overindulged because we ordered our drinks and order a tapa before waiting to enjoy our complimentary tapa. Also, you often get a new tapa with each drink so, depending on the place, you can have two drinks and enjoyed a full plate of food in the form of 2 different tapas. We found that two drinks with complimentary tapas and then splitting a ración (a ration or plate) or even a media (a half portion which is pronounced “MEH-dia”) was plenty for lunch or the evening. If you are planning on bar hopping, then just ordering beverages may be all you need for a culinary adventure!
If you are up for a Granada tapas tour, then may I recommend my favorite places and the tapas ración for which they are known! I would want to call out that none of these are in the traditional tourist districts of the Albaizin or Calle Elvira. Most are central but stray to the west to neighborhoods that the locals frequent. It can be a bit overwhelming but practice your basic Spanish phrases, and you will do fine! However, mostly, do it because it is worth it! Download this handy Granada Tapas Tour map to help guide your way.
Let’s get started by ordering our drinks! An Alhambra brand beer is always a good bet and will get you a nod of approval from the barman. Calvente wine is a fresh, crisp white made from Muscat grapes but not fermented to the point of being super sweet like its dessert wine cousin. A pint is a norm but a half pint of beer is called a caña (cay-nya) is standard during the day.
Bodegas Castaneda – Very traditional in atmosphere. It was here that we met Julio who nicely asked us if we needed him to remind the waiter that he had not given us our tapa. It’s usually busy so be prepared to stand and eat. Our tapa was very traditional tomato rice. Calle Almireceros, 1-3, 18010 Granada, Spain
Bar Casa Julio – Teeny tiny place is known for its fried eggplant(berenjena) with black honey (not for its friendly staff. This tapa seems to be a specialty of Granada. I was amazed by how much delicious food the ladies in the tiny kitchen pumped out! Calle Hermosa, 5, 18010 Granada, Spain
Café Central – Ok, this place is pretty middle of the road restaurant, not tapas, but, when you are tired of fried, fried, fried, there is an amazing salad of baby gem lettuce and fresh anchovies(anchoas). Moreover, it is a PLATTER. If you have never had fresh anchovies, don’t let the tinned stuff fool you. They are tasty, slightly salty fish that pair so well with the citrus zing of this salad. Most tapas restaurants (where you can sit and enjoy tapas) also offer a simple salad of dressed tomatoes in the spring and summer times. Calle Almireceros, 18010 Granada, Spain
Taberna Catavinos – Off on its lonesome if the neighborhood favorite that specializes in seafood. Granada sits on the coast and its seafood is plump and fresh every day. The specialty is “ala plancha” which means everything in the bar case is open to cook on the grill. This is a fun time to try shrimp(gambas) or the long, thin razor clams(navaja) grilled in their shell that are local to the region. They also work wonders with fragrant sauté of mushrooms(seta) and truffle oil. And if you are a perfect patron, you may be rewarded with a complimentary glass of the digestive drink Hiergas and some yummy sugar donuts! Calle San Miguel Alta, 35, 18002 Granada, Spain
Taberna Los Pensadores – If you are interested in something meatier, look no furthered than the stewed pork and potatoes. This is home cooking at its most satisfying best! Olive oil braised potatoes that melt in your mouth serve as a bed to tender pork bits. Amazing with a glass of red tempranillo! Calle Alhamar, 21, 18005 Granada, Spain
Taberna El Mentidero – Tucked behind the Plaza Del Carmen is my favorite place. It struck me as filled with locals on their way home from the theatre. The tapas were lovely, but the menu was more adventurous. The specialty is artichokes and foie gras (alcachofas y foie). Yes, you read that correctly! YUM! This is a gooey, savory mess on a plate. Pair with a bright white to cut through the richness of the dish. They also do a dish that my husband was drooling over which is fried eggs over potatoes and jamón. They then cut rough cut it in front of you, so the yolk and bits of jamón are mixed. It gives a whole new meaning to “breakfast for dinner,” and we loved it! Calle Piedra Santa, 18009 Granada, Spain
Taberna Case Enrique – Filled with aging flamenco singers hawking their CD, this place is quirky and nostalgic. Enrique is behind the bar serving up aged sherry, aged manchego preserved in olive oil and aged lomo(pork) sliced wafer thin. A man for all ages! Traditional, dark, and filled with history. You feel like you have stepped back in time. Calle Acera del Darro, 8, 18005 Granada, Spain
Bar Avila – No frills but packed to the gills, Bar Avila sparks sighs of love from the locals. You get a choice of meat or fish in your complimentary tapas choice, and the wine list is particularly great for such a small spot. We sprung for the octopus(pulpo) and were rewarded with chewy fried tentacles! A fantastic choice with my cerveza(beer)! Calle Verónica de la Virgen, 16, 18005 Granada, Spain
Café Pasteleria Lopez – Mezquita – When it’s finally time to seek something sweet, may I suggest a piononos. A small tower of cake rolled around custard with a sugar glaze. For a special occasion, try the golden chocolate covered piononos. Calle Reyes Católicos, 39, 18001 Granada, Spain
From the fried anchovies to croquetas, I guarantee that you will be fulfilled and FULL after experiencing this side of Granada. If you’re worried about the excess, well, just head over to the Alhambra steps one more time to work it all off! Salut!
Psst. By the way, if you are interested in having a local to guide you through the tapas lined streets of Granada, may I suggest https://devourgranadafoodtours.com. They are excellent!