Top 10 Tapas Bars in Granada, Spain
By: Josh Taylor‘Tapas’ is practically synonymous with ‘Spain’; the time-honoured snack has epitomized the nation’s culinary scene since the early 13th century, and is now enjoyed at just about any bar or restaurant the nation over.
For those of you with only a vague idea of what actually constitutes una tapa, it is essentially anything from a bite-sized tidbit to a dinner-qualifying portion of fare that accompanies your drink. The word derives from the Spanish verb ‘tapar’, meaning ‘to cover’, in owing to the appetizer’s original purpose – keeping those pesky flies at bay by placing either a slice of bread or a small dish on top of a glass.
All tapas were originally served as complimentary eats, though nowadays most of Spain seems to have conveniently discarded this part of the custom, leaving only a select few cities with free tapas to shout about. Granada is the most renowned of these, on account of the city’s genial, vivacious and ethnically diverse culture – a trait plainly manifested in its seemingly interminable stream of tapas bars.
So, in no particular order, let’s have a look at some of the best shall we?
- Babel World Fusion
Ever since Granada became the unofficial beating heart of the Erasmus study-abroad program, a number of discernibly trendy tapas bars have emerged, and Babel is quite possibly the pick of the lot. The aptly named student hotspot borrows, blends and brings new-fangled life to fine flavours from all corners of the globe. Treat yourself to the Japanese-Italian fused sushi de risotto negro con salmon or the veggie-friendly Makuta Africana (fried, potato based veggie burger). The menu is extensive, and should be rigorously explored.
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? C/ Elvira 41
- Om Kalsoum
Given the city’s Moorish past, Moroccan-style tapas are not hard to come by when out on a tapa crawl. The Albayzín barrio is strewn with kebab houses and tetarías, but for some first-rate, authentic cuisine, you’ll have to veer off the tourist track a little. Om Kalsoum is just the place for this, and rewards those fortunate enough to discover it with winning dishes such as the bravas glazed papa yunnani, the pitta wrapped shawarma de pollo (not like the rotten stuff you get from takeaways) and the crispy, suave-centered faláfel. There’s plenty of charm, character and buzz about the place, to make the hunt all the more worthwhile.
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? C/ Jardines 6
- Casa Lopez Correa
Ask a Spaniard about Lopez and you’ll most likely be met with a ‘Que?’ and a look of befuddlement. Ask any other European, or as we are cordially referred to – los guiris, and you’ll have your auricles chewed off, unless of course, they’ve just eaten at Lopez. The tapas here are delish, but win a place on the list in owing to a unique take on classic European dishes. Ever had a tapa de Yorkshire pudding y gravy? Didn’t think so. What about tapa de Sauerkraut? Nor had I, until I set foot in this warm, welcoming and English family-run bistro.
One Drink & Tapa: €2.50 Where? C/ de los Molinos 5
- La Mancha
Strictly speaking, this thoroughly traditional bar – decked out with gargantuan barrels of cherry and hanging hunks of ham – does not play by the rules. Here, you have to pay extra for your tapa, yet come 10pm the place is as lively as any other – a testament to the quality of its food. The bocodillo menu is vast, offering a myriad of delicious, meat fillings, though the house specialty is undoubtedly el flamenquín (pork wrapped in Serrano ham, deep-fried in breadcrumbs), one portion of which can quite easily be shared between two. The service isn’t as quick as some other nearby bars but it’s definitely worth the wait – and the extra pennies.
One Drink & Tapa: €4.50 Where? C/ Joaquin Costa 10
- Bella y Béstia
If you aren’t one for paltry portions then this franchised tapas bar will surely satisfy your needs. For a meager price, each patron receives either a beer, glass of wine or soft drink with a toasted ham and cheese bagel, hidden beneath mounds of pasta and chunky chips. This one stays open a little later than most, and offers unrivalled views of The Alhambra Palace in its idyllic location.
One Drink & Tapa: €2.20 Where? Carrera del Darro 37
The only unsavory thing about this bullring embedded establishment is its garish décor and cringeworthy ‘reggaeton’ music (cheesy Spanish pop). Food-wise though, it offers up some seriously tasty tapas. The gooey Camenbert con salsa 4 quesos y arádanos (fried camembert with four-cheese and cranberry sauce) and bocodillo de cebolla caramelizada (caramelized onion baguette) are particularly noteworthy examples. For a meatier choice, go with the Empanada Argentina Criolla. You generally can’t go wrong with whatever you order here, though go early before the bar turns into a school disco.
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? Plaza de Toros
- Los Diamantes
It’s not all carne and salsa. Plenty of other bars on the Grenadian tapa scene prefer to show off the Andalucían knack for frying, especially seafood. Los Diamantes, situated on the permanently bustling Calle Navas, is a classic example. Plates come heaped with fresh pescaíto frito (fried fish), unpeeled gambas (king-sized prawns) or freshly prepared paella among other greasy yet gratifying dishes. Despite the modern exterior, there’s a very traditional feel to the place, thanks to the animated locals who typically occupy the bar space. You won’t leave hungry.
One Drink & Tapa: €1.70 Where? C/ Navas 26
- Mariano el Pescador
This one’s a bit of a walk to get to, and attracts a much younger crowd. Its sleek, modern and jazzy feel is in sharp contrast to the city centre’s generally traditional vibe, and this seems to sit well with students. But if you’re a proper foodie, then a bit of glitz and glam with your tapa shouldn’t matter too much. You’ll be glad you came when you try the famed serranito (pork, Serrano ham, red bell pepper and garlic mayonnaise baguette) or the piquant potato and pork (yes, more pork) filled bombas. Portion sizes are typically double that of anywhere else.
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? C/ Doctor Fleming 8
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarian tapas bars do actually exist in Spain, and Manila is perhaps the most celebrated in all of Granada. Here, the funky décor will lure you in and the laid-back vibes and lip-smacking food will keep you there. I used to feel underfed following any tapa void of meat, but one sitting in this place and I was beginning to wonder whether or not I’d actually miss it. The vegetable melees and luscious goat’s cheese salads are a big hit, but the all-conquering veggie burger is the star of the show. Sadly, this doesn’t come for free, but this is a meal you won’t regret pushing the boat out for.
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? Plaza de las Descalzas 3
Another guiri favourite, albeit one that comes with an oriental twist. Run by a well-travelled Englishman Matthew and his Brazilian wife, typical platos include the now infamous Pollo en salsa Thailandés (Thai Chicken Curry) and the scrumptious Bacalhau á Gomes de Sá (Portuguese style salt cod). The standard of service is at Poë every bit as good as the quality of its tapas, despite the bar’s permanently busy state. Arrive early if you want a seat!
One Drink & Tapa: €2 Where? C/ Verónica de Magdelena 40
Given the inexhaustible list of excellent tapas bars in Granada, choosing ten is a naturally difficult thing to do. There are countless others that ought to be investigated, and new ones popping up every week. So ditch the ritzy restaurants and get yourselves on the next flight to Granada. What, after all, is better than an endless supply of free food?
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Contest Comments » There are 7 comments
Great list, Josh. I'll be sure to bookmark this page for future trips to Granada with hoards of visitors expected this coming summer!
Great reading - interesting angle on experiences living in Granada and trips to other areas of Spain. All amusing, enlightening and enticing. Thanks Josh!
Good ranking, I agree with you in numbers 3, 5 and 8. And, as you said, it´s a difficult thing to do!
You certainly know your finger food.
Excellent list! I was at about half of these during my time studying abroad in Granada. The ones I was at were great, so I can imagine the others are too. This next year I'll be teaching in Spain, and maybe Granada, so I'll have to try out the others!
Well written and informative list! I'll have to check some of them out when I visit Granada later in the year
great to see Babel and Manila on this list! Granada is super-vego friendly :)