Beginners Guide to Tapas in Granada
Introduction to Tapas.
In this guide I am going to assume that you know nothing. A tapa is a small portion of food which you receive when you by a drink. To give the customers tapas is a universal Spanish custom throughout Spain. In some cities such as Granada, Leon etc the tapas are free. They can vary from just a few nuts or a small dish of olives to almost a mini meal in itself. One of the greatest pleasures of being in Spain is to go out with your friends for tapas. It represents a very healthy way of drinking because as you drink you eat. It is normal to only stay in each tapas bar for one or two drinks so you may visit a whole series of bars during an evening. In some tapas bars you can choose which tapa to have whereas in other bars they have a set list of tapas which you get according to which round of tapas you are on. For example in the Arco Iris tapa number 10 is crabs legs.
The origin of the word tapa.
If you look in a bilingual dictionary the word "tapa" means lid, cover, top, cap, etc. Many people will tell you that the word tapa originated because the glasses were physically covered by a small plate of food or a piece of food. This seems unlikely I prefer the explanation that the word "tapa" was used because it "covers" the appetite. Someone once told me that tapas were originally invented by the army to stop the soldiers getting too drunk on their nights out (another unlikely story).
Places to go for Tapas.
I am not a tapas bar expert. One of the joys of going for tapas is to explore new bars. There are so many good tapas bars in Granada it would be impossible to list them all here. I advise you to throw away your guides to Granada which are written based on a two or three day whistle top visit. Just follow your nose. If you don't get a good tapa just go on to the next tapa bar. However having said all that here are a few of the most famous tapas bars which are well worth a visit and which you can use as starting points.
Plaza nueva and Calle Elvira
Casa Julio This is near Plaza nueva in calle Hermosa (I think). Open from 9 o'clock onwards every day except Mondays. They don't normally bring tapas to the tables outside so to be on the safe side it's best to stand at the bar. Its best tapas are the "berenjenas" (aubergines) and the "boquerones" (fried white bait).This is an architypal tapas bar. An interesting architectural feature is the toilet which is more like a wardrode, I can say through personal experience that it is impossible to use if you are a woman. There are a whole series of tapas bars in this area including the Castañeda. This area of Granada has the higest percentage of foreigners. Sadly for myself this area has recently started to go more upmarket and is therfore losing its charm although they still keep a tally of your drinks written in chalk on the bartop in the Casteñeda for example.
Arco Iris open most days except Mondays. Offers a full selection of fish. See if you can sample every tapa on the menu (about 12) and still walk in a straight line.
The Albaicin is best to visit during the day when you can wander round the tiny streets and catch glimpses of the Alhambra as you walk. The road that leads off Plaza larga (C/. Panaderos) has a whole series of good tapas bars especially Miguel Berrios which has a friendly atmosphere and great tapas. If you like snails try out the Bar Aliatar in Plaza Aliatar in the Albaicin. By the way if you like fish check out the Bar Ladrillo for a cheap portion of fried fish (hake, prawns. squid, octopus, white bait, etc.) with salad. Best at midday when you can sit outside.
In the centre of Granada.
El Meditárraneo (corner of Calle Gracia and Verónica de la Magadelena) Greek/Turkish-type tapas. There are lots of other tapas bars around this area.
Closer to the "marcha zone" (the area around Pedro Alarcon which is where most Granadinos of under 25 go out, although I am now too old to keep up the pace)
Bar Enrique (Calle Socrates) The tapas in this bar are excellent.
Plaza Isabel La Catolica to Plaza de Principe
Take a stroll along this road and there are plenty of bars to choose from.
Plaza de Carmen
The road that goes off Plaza de Carmen (San Matias I think it's called) has a whole series of bars.
Some notes on Going for Tapas.
If you are vegetarian some good tapas to try are: champiñones (mushrooms) setas (wild mushrooms) patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) patatas a lo pobre (potatoes slowly fired in oil, with green peppers if you're lucky) but more a thing to be eaten as "raciones" (plates of food in a restaurant) and accompanied by a salad (Check out Plaza San Miguel Bajo where you can sit outside and eat)
If you fancy fish tapas, remember don't go out on a Monday as they don't fish on Sundays so the fish won't be fresh and a lot of the fish tapa bars won't be open.
Generally speaking tapas aren't served after 12pm at night.
It's not necessary to drink alcohol to get a tapa with your drink. Coca cola funnily enough doesn't count for a tapa, but if you don't feel like drinking alcohol and fancy a tapa, try a "cerveza sin alcohol" (alcolhol free beer), a "vino sin alcohol" (grape juice) or try a "tinto de verano" (red wine with soda and ice).
Some simple vocabulary if you can't speak Spanish.
The words in brackets are a pronunciation guide. Using these you will have a strong foreign accent but they just might be able to understand you.
Me pones un/a ........... = Please can I have a ................. (may ponay oonna)
Nos llena aquí .......... = Can we have some more drinks please? or Same again please ( noh yenna a key)
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