For those who don’t know me, hi, my name is Hannah and I really like food. To me, food is the best way to know a culture, a person, or a belief. There’s so much information hidden within food-- the rules, who creates it, what can or cannot be used, how it is served, when it is served, and when it is prepared-- an entire story behind every plate. When we share food, we share a part of ourselves.
That being said, I am really passionate about food. So you can imagine how excited I was to arrive in Spain to a totally new cuisine. Granada is a culinary city in my opinion. All of Spain is known for “tapas,” tiny little plates of food accompanied by drinks. You might be surprised to hear that Granada has free tapas. I repeat: Free. Tapas. How does this work? Easy. Go into any bar in the city, order your favorite drink (with or without alcohol), and a small plate of food will arrive without showing up on your bill. It’s that simple.
The fun thing about this rule of free tapas is that the size, quality, quantity, and options of tapas all vary depending on where you go. This means that no two places are alike and that there are countless locations to explore.
You can probably imagine the kid-in-a-candy-shop kind of excitement I felt after walking into my first tapas bar. I ordered my usual tinto de verano (a summery drink made with red wine & lemon soda) and took out the tapa menu. There were about 50 options. I was overwhelmed.
After 4 months in Granada, I cannot tell you how many tapas I have tried. And for those who might have less time or just would like some pointers of the best tapas bars and foodie spots in Granada, here is my prized list of favorites.
Bar Avila ii
The best. Hands down. This is the most authentic, wonderful tapa experience you could ask for. Always hustle bustle and always the best food. You get so many options to choose from (like 50) and can’t go wrong. The portions are insane for a free tapa and it comes out hot. Pro tip: You should get there right as it opens to snag a seat and watch as the bar fills up. My favorite tapas are the patatas bravas and the “hamburger.”
- Restaurante Los Manueles
Such friendly service. One night a group from my program went out to tapa here and we received huge plates of these amazing potatoes with a delicious pesto sauce. Then they started to dance and sing flamenco with us in the middle of the bar! So fun. The interior decoration makes you feel a little fancy. The last night I was in Granada I took my family here and they treated us so kindly.
- I Need Coffee
The perfect combo of everything you could want in a cafe. They have what I think is arguably the best coffee in Granada. Additionally, their handmade (and gluten free AND vegan) pastries are perfect to accompany your cafe con leche. Various deals are valid all day for coffee combined with tostadas, croissants, bocadillos… the options are limitless. In terms of the vibes, I Need is one of the only cafes in Granada where you can bring your laptop and work. Coffee is sacred in Spain and often reserved for social occasions. This is not the case at I Need. If you choose to socialize, you can do that too! If you want to work, maybe bring headphones in case people are chatting. In case you forget your headphones, I Need has the best playlist going 24/7. My treat to myself was a tostada with salmon and avocado. Yummmmm. Service is wonderful here and in case you don’t feel confident with your Spanish, all their staff speaks English as well.
- Pilar Del Toro
If you’re an IES Abroad Granada student, you’ll probably realize very quickly that “Pilar” as we affectionately call it is the convenient hang out location for students. They know us, we don’t even have to purchase anything, and they’re still happy for us to be there. It’s often empty or silent. Not to mention it’s literally across the street from IES Abroad. If you have an hour break in your schedule, it’s probably easiest to go to Pilar. The food and drinks are not anything special, but they are much more affordable than other cafes.
- Plaza Nueva 3
This made the list exclusively for their tostada con requeson y miel. This will change your life. That is all.
- Los Italianos
This is the only place that deserves to be on this list. It is not only the most exquisite and affordable gelato that you will find in Spain, but Michelle Obama also visited. The Michelle Obama. So if you’re not convinced, I don’t know what else to tell you. Heaven can be ordered in the form of avellana (hazelnut) and frambuesa (raspberry). Pro tip: If you’re balling on a budget, the cheapest option is a tiny scoop in a cone for 1 euro. And they have tons of specials, so if you’re adventurous, order a random special and see what comes out. I once ordered one which came with a shot of liquor in it. You won’t find that in the USA!!
So there you have it, folks! Hopefully this list is helpful to you, and whenever you next make it to Granada, buen provecho. Enjoy.