Tapas in Granada has one big difference to that of the rest of Spain: it’s free! Clemmy Manzo suggests five of her favourite tapas bars in Granada.
There’s plenty to love about the Andalucían city of Granada. The Alhambra for starters, that magnificent Moorish palace on the hill. And then there’s the tapas, different to almost everywhere else in Spain in one significant way: they’re free with every drink order.
Of course, quality varies from place to place, and there’s an element of pot luck: you don’t get to choose what comes with your cerveza, but the dishes tend to improve with the more drinks you order. Granadinos eat their tapas standing up, and as a general rule, the bars on and around Calle Varela in the Realejo district (the historical Jewish quarter) are where you’ll find most locals lunching.
Here’s my pick of the best (free) tapas bars in town:
At the compact Taberna La Tana (Placeta de Agua, 3), every inch of every wall is lined with Spanish wine bottles, vintage posters and photos. Owner and sommelier Jesús González is happy to advise on your wine order, no matter how packed it gets – and it gets very packed, with locals spilling out onto the streets in summer months. But it’s well worth the squeeze for the buzzing atmosphere and plates of tangy Manchego cheese, white or blood sausage and juicy Andalucían tomatoes that come with your vino tinto.
What Los Diamantes (Calle Navas, 6) lacks in interior design finesse, it more than makes up for with generous portions of delicious fried fish. You’re in safe hands at this no-frills joint; the garlicky clams cooked in sherry and the salted cod fritters are highlights. The Calle Navas joint has been going strong since 1942, but for more elbow space, head to the newer, bigger branch on Plaza Nueva.
Local dry sherry is the specialty at the old-school Bodegas Castañeda (Almireceros, 1). It’s as Spanish as you can get – wine barrels, retro tiles, hanging jamón and a giant bull’s head for décor – and the locals love it. Prop yourself up at the wooden bar to enjoy the cheese, ham, albóndigas or croquetas that come with your drink, or wait for a table to order from the à la carte menu.
It’s easy to guess what the specialty of the house is at Taberna de Jam (Plaza de los Campos, 1). If the name hasn’t given it away, then the rows of giant jamón legs on display definitely will. It’s owned by well-known jamón cutter (yes, that’s a thing here) José Ángel Muñoz. Choose from a plate of Bellota-grade Ibérico ham or Trevelez ham, all carved a cuchillo (by hand) in front of you. If you don’t know the difference, the expert cutters will talk you through it.
Local wines such as the fruity Vertijana 3 feature heavily at La Botilleria (Calle Varela, 10). It’s owned by the same family as La Tana, and the bow-tied wait staff take your wine order just as seriously. Their deep-fried artichokes coated in crunchy maize, drizzled with thick sugarcane honey is a twist on a local recipe; the tortilla sacromonte (sweetbread and ham omelette) is another typical Granadino dish on the menu, while the bar’s mini pork burgers are also popular.