Tiny bowls of shiny olives, potatoes drizzled in garlic mayonnaise and thin strips of cheese drenched in olive oil, these are the types of dishes which has made Spain famous for its cuisine. While in most cities in Spain you will pay a hefty amount for all of these, in Granada, in the south of the country, they’re completely free. Here are Granada’s top tapas bars:
The history of tapas
Tapas comes from the word tapa which means ‘cover’ or ‘lid’ and it is said the concept of tapas began when bars used to give customers small pieces of bread or meat to cover their glasses so the flies couldn’t get in.
The idea slowly evolved and bars began creating other types of food to place on small plates to cover the glasses too. While once upon a time these were often given out for free, today most bars charge for tapas, except in Granada. Granada is one of the few places left in Spain where plates of tapas are still given for free – the more drinks you buy the more plates of tapas you get (and the better the quality of tapas too).
Here are five of Granada’s top tapas bars:
With a coastline of 4,964km it’s no wonder that much of Spanish cuisine comes from the sea, and if you’re a seafood fan then Los Diamantes is the place to go. This tiny tapas bar on the popular Calle Navas could easily be missed, if it weren’t for the crowds of people spilling out onto the streets. The bar is local institution and has been going since 1942, it became so popular in fact that they’ve now opened two more bars in the city and two just outside as well. Expect small plates of calamari, prawns and sardines, almost always fried and battered.
Calle Navas 28, Granada, Spain
Set high up in the historical quarter of Albaicin, right next to the popular Mirador de San Nicolás lookout point (one of the best views of the magnificent Alhambra Moorish palace in the city), you may expect Bar Kiki to just cater to the tourist crowd, but in fact it’s a favourite with locals too. Here you’ll be served classic Spanish tapas – Manchego cheese, jamón serrano and fried anchovies. Not so good for main meals, this one’s best for just drinks and tapas.
Plaza San Nicolás 9, Granada, Spain
La Buena Vida
One of my favourite tapas bars in the city is La Buena Vida, a small and funky wine and cocktail bar where you can choose the tapas you want. Think stuffed chilli peppers, seafood pâté, olive tapenade and goat’s cheese with honey. They always have a few specials of the day too, and something a bit different to the regular Spanish affair of meat and bread – perhaps baba ganoush (a Middle Eastern smoked aubergine dip). If like me you’re a vegetarian, then this is a good choice as you’ll always find a few veggie options on the list. The wine is pretty good here too.
Calle Almireceros 12, Granada, Spain
Founded by the Moors in the 11th century, Granada has a strong Moorish heritage, which can still be found today. You’ll find whole streets of Moroccan tea houses, souks selling Moroccan lamps and sequinned-slippers and plenty of fast food joints selling kebabs and falafels. Om-Kalsum is possibly one of the most authentic Middle Eastern tapas bars in the city, and is set a little off the tourist trail on Calle Jardines. Here you’ll be served small plates of crispy falafels, couscous, papa de yunnani (glazed potato cubes) and chicken shawarmas with your cañas (glasses of beer).
Calle Jardines 6, Granada, Spain
Vegetarian and veganism is not something that is very common in Spain, and while you can find vegetarian restaurants in most of the larger cities, in Granada they’re pretty hard to come by. Mundo Manila is one of the few places I’ve heard of in Granada serving a completely vegetarian affair (with many vegan dishes too). A grungy, hippy hangout popular with meat eaters as well as veggies, students and the international crowd, here you’ll be served up small tapas such as carrot quiche or pasta salad. The lunchtime bocadillos (filled baguettes) and veggie burgers (which you have to pay for) are also among the best you’ll find anywhere.
Plaza de las Descalzas 3, Granada, Spain