Before my last rampage through Granada (refer to my “Gold In Granada” piece if you don’t know) I lived a normal, “tapa” life, which included studying at the University of Granada for an entire semester.
Granada has many faces (like most romantic cities), and one them includes FREE TAPAS–just another addition to my “free” living atmosphere.
Tapas are a MUST in Granada, and whether you have the money or not it doesn’t matter, because there are limitless tapas handed over for FREE, yes FREE, with every purchase of a beer (caña) or glass of wine (vino tinto).
In the summer, “vino tintos” are usually converted into “tinto de veranos,” which consists of red wine, Sprite or Coca Cola, and ice. All of which range from 2-3 €uros in price, so you walk away tipsy and full for practically free.
What Are Tapas?
Well, they’re sort of the like Spanish version of Hors d’oeuvres, or mini appetizers; scrumptious bites of mouth watering delicacies that come along side with the order of a drink.
Granada is the only city in all of Spain that still follows the tradition of handing out free, small plates of food ONLY with the purchase of a drink. You can go for soft drinks as well, so don’t worry about getting too drunk.
During even more traditional times, when there were no menus, tapas were served as whatever the chef decided to whip up at that moment, or for the day. The more you drank meant the more you ate, which also meant the more complex and interesting the dishes became, resulting in a fiery competition against the cook. If you stopped drinking–think again, because you’d have to start over from dish #1 the next time you came back, adding yet another a dose of charm to this magical city.
These days, most tapa bars cater to tourists by providing a menu and explaining each tapa. There are still some bars that don’t, serving whatever their heart desires; if you stumble upon one of these, do not dare ask about what’s on the menu, they find it rude and disrespectful. They might give you a choice between “meat” or “fish,” but either way, JUST EAT!
Again, referring to tradition, tapa bars usually serve from 7pm-12am, typically before Spaniards go out to party. It’s sort of like a mini pre-game before going real hard in the clubs, while of course making your tummy happy to avoid sickness…
BUT, there is an exception about the time tables, due to tourists, etc. Some bars stay open all day, especially in parts of the center. Just remember that the “day” bars may be more expensive.
If you want to be a real Granadian/Spaniard/European, watch the Granadinos a table over and make sure you take as long as you possibly can on each dish (probably due to long, foolish/interesting conversational chit chat). Never understood this, but my American friends and I would always be inhaling our 4th tapa and shoving accumulated drinks down our throats before a native could finish their 1st. Most Spaniards order one drink and a tapa–that’s it, then move on to the next place. Depending on dish deliciousness, restraining from ordering 10 drinks just to receive 10 free tapas at a single bar is almost impossible — I say, just “shut up and eat!”
TAPA’S GENERAL WARNING
Tapa-teando aka tapa hopping is highly addictive. You can develop an addiction and high tolerance to alcoholic beverages.
Free food can induce an even higher addiction.
Keep in mind: You do NOT have to finish your drink to get your next plate of food, but you DO have to order one.
Remember: If you don’t finish your drink, that would be wasting.
Also, if you just want the tapa itself, it is completely allowed, but you might get some turned and twisted heads. Why would anyone pass up a free drink?
How Is it Free? Why?
Since Granada is the only city that still follows this amazing tradition, attracting tourists and students alike, the vast amount of economic exchange allows for it to still be possible. So keep on drinking!
Note: other Spanish cities may serve a plate of olives, peanuts, sunflowers seeds,
or chips and consider it a “tapa,” but I tell you none are like Granada’s–here you are
getting complete food satisfaction.
Interested? Tapa Hopping? Tapateando?
1. Poë – (Brazilian/Portuguese/Asian Fusion tapas BarPoë.com) – C/ de Verónica de la Magdalena 40
2. El Pescador aka La Bella y La Bestia – (A tapa chain throughout Granada, and more on the traditional Spanish side) – Carrera del Darro 37, or C/ de Elvira
3. Cafe Bar Oriental Feng Shui – (no exact address, not located on Google maps, but visible from Plaza Nueva and will settle your Chinese cravings; serves fried noodles, fried rice, egg rolls, shrimps, and even crab legs. 1 noodle dish will always suffice) – C/ de Elvira
4. D’ Cuardos – (chain tapa bar throughout Spain, but the ONLY one that serves FREE additional food is in Granada of course. A fusion of everything ranging from Italian to Mexican cuisine. *Must try the grilled eggplants with honey glaze* D’Cuardos.es) – C/ Fabrica Vieja 1-15
5. Babel World Fusion – (An exotic fusion of typical Andalusian/Mediterranean/African/Japanese cuisine, well, just a fusion of fusions) – C/ de Elvira 41
6. La Marisquería Los Andaluces – (traditional Spanish tapas) – C/ de Solarillo de Gracia 12
7. Om Kaslum – (Middle Eastern cuisine & vegetarian certified tapas) – C/ Jardines 17
1. El Ladrillo – (serves traditional Spanish tapas, caters more toward fried seafood: calamari, sardines, shrimp, yum, etc.) C/ Pardo 7
2. 6 Peniques – (no exact address, not located on Google maps; serves traditional Spanish tapas) – C/ Santa Escolàstica