A key cultural dish in Spain, especially southern Spain, is paella. Paella is traditionally made on Sunday afternoons when extended families visit the house, because it is easily made in large quantities. It also takes a long time to make (lots of prep work), so it’s considered a special dish. In some areas of Spain, mostly in the cities, paella isn’t made as frequently. However, in the pueblos (or suburbs) families will have paella pans in all sizes for different crowds, and is still a big part of tradition.
Because of the emphasis on community and family, I think that the best place to eat Paella in Granada is La Parrala Paella Bar in Plaza Nueva. The restaurant only has 3 burners behind the bar, but they make all kinds of paella (fish, mixta, meat, vegetable, black rice)…if you’re willing to wait. Some fancier restaurants actually request that you call in the day before if you’re planning on ordering paella so they can get fresh ingredients and also budget their time. At La Parrala, your meal might take 2 hours, but it’s a vibrant atmosphere to sit in a bar stool, chat, and make new friends.
Be wary of the paella off of major plazas—they often use dyes to imitate the use of saffron, a key ingredient of paella. If the rice in the picture looks yellow-orange, it’s probably not the real stuff!
A typical paella is made with calamari, medallions of sausage, chicken or pork, and gambas (or prawns). In some places there’s a fish paella that has more variety of fish, and a meat paella that has more variety of (you guessed it) meat! Black rice is a paella that is seasoned with squid ink in place of the usual amounts of saffron, and is a little saltier– but just as delicious.