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Tapas in Granada: Daquella manera

If you are visiting Granada to see its fabled Alhambra and you don’t linger, you are missing a trick. It is one of the last places in Spain where tapas are served for free with your drink. Robin Graham points out 10 bars where you may encounter fellow tourists but you will never outnumber the locals.

EL TAPEO IS one of the most convivial ways to spend an evening, and there is nowhere better to experience it than Granada. That said, if you don’t take a step away from the tourist hotspots, you could find yourself fobbed off with a packet of crisps. It won’t happen in any of these places, though.

1. Casa Torcuato

Casa Torcuato has been a fixture on its pretty plaza in the Albayzin Alto for years. This is a no nonsense place where classic tapas are served in generous portions. The pescaíto, or fried fish, is particularly good and comes with pasta salad. Weather permitting, and mostly it does, tables are set up in the square for some idyllic al fresco dining. Quintessentially Spanish, Granadino and wonderful.

31 Calle Pagés , Albayzin Alto, 958 20 28 18

2. Bar Casa Julio

Café Casa Julio: habibmi

Casa Julio is good at fish, which is obvious as soon as you walk in. There are tapas of gambas (shrimp), rape en adobe (marinated monkfish), calamares (squid) and berenjenas (deep fried aubergines). The boquerónes (deep fried anchovies) arrive in batter spiced with cumin. A firm favourite with the locals and you can smell why.

5 Calle Hermosa, a side street where Calle Elvira meets Plaza Nueva

3. Bodega Espadafor

This place has been here since early last century and probably hasn’t seen a lick of paint since. Cavernous, with an elegant bar and the ubiquitous fluorescent strip lighting; the walls are covered with ceramic tiles interspersed with hand painted depictions of Andalusian life. Interior decorating with the baking heat of the summer in mind. More than Andalusian or Spanish; this is the South.
I have pisto (a ratatouille-like vegetable stew) topped with a quail’s egg. Cute and tasty, and since I go back for more, albóndigas de carne (meatballs) served with fries.
A good selection of sherries from the barrel; we choose the bone dry Fino. If you have a sweet tooth, go for Moscatel.

59 Calle Gran Vía de Colón at Calle Tinajilla, 958 20 21 38

4. Casa De Todos

Everything is a sandwich. Tapas of stewed pork and tortilla with spinach arrive in pulguitas (tiny bread rolls). The place is feet from the intersection of Calle Elvira and Plaza Nueva, is small, warm, nicely cramped and friendly. The kitchen is more of a cupboard. This is salt-of-the-earth territory. I never see it closed, or quiet.

Calle Elvira, just off Plaza Nueva, 958 22 80 62

5. Los Diamantes

Inside Los Diamantes (used as Feature Photo):
Daquella manera

Calle Navas, an upscale equivalent to Calle Elvira, is lined with tapas bars and Los Diamantes, not at all upscale, is the star attraction. It looks unpromising and I’m disappointed when I’m handed fries for my first tapa, but they turn out to be batons of deep fried courgette (zucchini). Yummy. The place is strip lit, loud and cramped, and is deservedly a favourite amongst Granadinos for its fish specialities. I wonder if there’s rivalry with Casa Julio, a similar operation.

26 Calle Navas, 958 22 70 70

6. Páprika

At the shabbier end of Calle Elvira, there is nothing shabby about Páprika, with its smart, canopied terrace and beatnik interior. It looks too posh for tapas, but it isn’t. I get some vegetable paella with a glass of local wine. The place is also a sharp restaurant, though for that you pay. The paella is packed with flavour, and the food here is largely vegetarian and very good.

3 Cuesta de Abarqueros, near the old city gate at the other end of Calle Elvira, 958 80 47 85

7. Taberna El 22

Boquerones: birasuegi

In the Albayzin, this pretty place has a popular terrace. I have habas con jamon – broad beans with ham, a local classic. The youthful staff exude cool. I bet they listen to difficult jazz. The tapas are great, but even if there were no such thing, this is one of Granada’s nicest bars. A reward for walking up the Calderería, the steep Moroccan souk that leads here.

22 Cuesta de San Gregorio, where the Caldereria Nueva ends and the Cuesta begins in the Albayzin

8. Café om Kalsum

A fantastic tapas bar, named for Egypt’s great chanteuse and specialising in tapas with a North African twist. As in many of Granada’s bars, impressive food emerges from an unfeasibly small kitchen. They do a plato degustación, or tasting platter, for €12. Order it if you are hungry and there are at least four of you, otherwise go with the ample and tasty tapas that will come with your drinks. They are accommodating for vegetarians.

17 Calle Jardines

9. Bar La Trastienda

Calle Elvira: Daquella manera

Is it a bar with a chacinería (pork butcher’s shop) at the entrance or a chacinería with a bar at the back? Either way, you need to duck beneath the hanging chorizos and salchichónes, squeeze past the till and behind the counter to find yourself in this cosy, surprisingly chic little place. Trastienda translates as “behind the shop”, I discover later. The tapa, unsurprisingly, is a nice bit of salchichón.

11 Calle de los Cuchilleros, just off Plaza Nueva

10. Café Bar Elvira

A decent selection of beers and you get to select your tapa. This only happens in a handful of bars; in most places the tapa will be dictated by the house. Open from 1pm on a Sunday and otherwise from 7pm. Impromptu flamenco sessions erupt here in the evenings, I’m told. Good choice for a locale if you’re in Granada for a while because of it’s relaxed, no fuss atmosphere.

85 Calle Elvira

Community Connection

Granada in your future? Check out community member and Spain Expert El Lobo‘s impressions in Dream Awake in Granada. And not to toot our own horn, but Matador Nights has the Top Ten Flamenco Clubs in Granada.

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About The Author

Robin Graham

Robin Graham has written for Matador Nights, The Expeditioner, Literary Traveler, Travel Thru History, GoNomad, and Bootsnall. He is on the move again and blogging at www.alotofwind.com.

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  • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things

    Man, I miss spain :(

  • Katja Spindler

    All you need to know for a proper tapas crawl in Granada. I like your selection of places – among the old classics like Casa Julio you have found some real hidden treasures. Your description of the tapas is mouthwatering, and you really capture the charme of the place. Nice one ;)

  • Stephen L

    They all sound interesting but the boquerones at Casa Julio are just yelling for a taste. I love anchovies and my wife loves cumin.

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    Damn, wish I could remember the names of places I tapa-ed at this past April. Sandwich tapas rock.

    Great piece.

  • michael

    There are so many great spots to enjoy tapas in Granada, but you do have to explore a bit to find the true gems. Don’t miss out on the morcilla!

  • http://travelsofadam.com Adam

    Probably my favorite city in Spain! Definitely plan to go back!!

  • http://www.alotofwind.com Robin

    Probably mine too.

  • Steve

    This is an awesome list, but it’s missing a cornerstone of Granada tapas cuisine:  Poe (with an umlaut over the “e”). The pinchos are to die for, the Thai Chicken is the tastiest dish in Granada, and every other tapa could be served at a four-star restaurant. You get to chose which tapa you would like with your beer here. The owners, Matthew and Ana, are as friendly as anyone you’ll find working behind a bar.  It’s on Calle Veronica de la Magdelena. I live right around the corner from this treasure of Granada, but would walk 20 minutes to get here if I had to. 

    • http://www.spanishsabores.com Lauren (Spanish Sabores)

      Yes Poe is great!!! I miss Granada…

    • http://alotofwind.com/ Robin

      Poe is a lovely little bar and a long-standing magnet for the British and other expats in Granada. Any list is inevitably going to reflect some bias and I suppose mine is for classic Spanish tapas. Of course variety is essential too but nothing makes me happier than a plate of boquerones or some garlicky habas con jamon :)

  • Wyatt

    Can plaza de toros get some love? Brasilia and Nido del Búho are both fixtures of the area, Brasilia for its huge burgers and papas a lo pobre, and Nido for its huge sandwiches that come with a healthy serving of olives and nuts. A lesser known spot in the area that is definitely worth checking out is La Maestranza, which has a delicious champiñones salteados (sautéed mushrooms), chicken fingers in this great homemade tangy/spicy sauce, and the best onion rings and fried eggplant I’ve tried, both served with a delicate honey balsamic vinaigrette. The tapas are small, but the more than make up for that with their quality and friendliness.

    • http://alotofwind.com/ Robin

      Nido definitely gets some love! Maybe it should be on the list but then you could spend a lifetime re-ordering your Granada top ten. They certainly don’t skimp on the olives in Nido and for a bar that lets you select your tapa, they have  a fantastic selection and the size of the tapas is much larger than is usual for the city centre. A very down to earth crowd with clientele from the local apartments and dog-on-string hippies and everyone in between.

      La Maestranza I will have to try. Cuadros, or whatever that trendy place is called that is built into the bullring, I hate.

      If you’re interested in Sevilla, check out it’s tapa ten at  http://www.theexpeditioner.com/2012/02/13/top-10-bars-in-seville/

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