In Spanish cuisine, tapas are small snacks or appetizers. It can be practically anything — jamon y queso (ham and cheese), olives, croquettes, shrimp, potatoes, or Spanish tortilla (egg and potato omelet) — the possibilities are endless. Traditionally, tapas were served for free with a drink in any bar, restaurant, or café in Spain. Over time, however, the tradition has faded in most of the country and you now have to pay for your tapas in most places. The only major city where you can truly find this practice has held its ground is Granada, a wonderful city in Spain’s southern autonomous community of Andalucia.
Situated in the valley of the Sierra Nevada mountains and overlooked by the grand Moorish palace, the Alhambra, Granada truly feels like a city stuck in time — so it’s no wonder that the tapas tradition lives on here. In some restaurants, a round of drinks for your table will earn you a big plate of tapas to share. At others, each person gets a small tapa with each drink, either of your choice or chosen for you, depending on the restaurant’s practice. A common nighttime activity in Granada is to go tapas hopping — having a drink and a tapa at one bar, then moving on to the next. This can go on for hours until everyone is full and a bit drunk just in time to go to sleep or check out the nightlife. Keep in mind, one drink and tapa usually only costs 2€ or 3€, so you can really get your money’s worth! If you ever find yourself in this incredible city, here are my top recommendations for where to enjoy one of Spain’s oldest traditions — this is a guide to the best tapas in Granada.
Best Atmosphere: Bar Poe (Calle Verónica de la Magdelena 40)
Pronounced po-ay, this small bar tucked away in the narrow streets between Plaza de la Trinidad and Plaza de Gracia, is a favorite amongst foreign students, ex-pats, and locals alike.
Poe is owned and operated by a lovely couple — an English man and his Angolan wife. They are sweet, speak English, and will chat with you all night, telling you all about how they met on their travels and their years living in Granada. Besides the homey vibe, the place has a classic selection of red and white wines, as well as cold beers, including some Czech and German ones that can’t be found everywhere in Spain.
Unlike places that serve you whatever tapas they want, this place offers multiple fish, pork, chicken, and vegetarian options to choose from with each drink, so there’s something for everyone and you’ll leave satisfied every time. My go-to dishes were the Italian-style vegetables, chickpea salad, and Thai chicken — but you can try all that and more, just have another drink!
Best Bang For Your Buck And Most Variety: Babel World Fusion (Calle Elvira 41)
Babel is a fusion of worlds like nothing else in Granada. Combining the tapas tradition with all types of cuisine, this place really has it all. Although located on the busy Calle Elvira (Elvira Street), this spacious restaurant never gets packed with tourists.
If you’re looking for filling tapas that can count as a meal, this is the place for some of the best tapas in Granada. Again, you can choose your tapas here. There are many delicious options like chips and guacamole, cheese risotto, hummus, kebabs, croquettes, fajitas, chicken with rice, and more!
Sometimes, they’ll even have specials where they offer two tapas per drink, so with a round of drinks for the table, you’ll have plenty of dishes to share. One night, my table had already ordered a few rounds and, to thank us for being loyal customers, our final round of drinks came with a huge shawarma and falafel platter that was to die for.
Most Andalusian: Bar Los Diamantes (Original: Calle Navas 28, Other Branch: Plaza Nueva 13)
If you’re looking for classic Andalusian fare, this is the place to go for the best tapas in Granada. The look of the restaurant is modern, but the experience feels very traditional.
Although you don’t get to choose your tapas here, as long as you want seafood or fish, you won’t be disappointed. Each drink comes with a plate of fried fish, which comes in fresh from the coast about an hour away every morning.
The service here is great — it has to be since this is one of the top-rated and most well-known tapas bars in all of Granada. Get there early to beat the crowds!
Most Classically Spanish: Bodegas Castañeda (Calle Almireceros 1-3)
My very traditional Spanish host mom took me and the rest of the family here for her birthday, so I knew it had to be good. This tapas bar buzzes with energy and has a classic Spanish feel and a classic Spanish crowd.
Slabs of jamon (Iberian ham) and a giant bull’s head hang above the bar and groups of locals crowd around small standing tables sipping drinks and nibbling on small tapas.
Keeping with the traditional Spanish vibe, there’s no choosing your tapa here, but this means you get a truly authentic experience. Most of the tapas include their famous jamon, sometimes with cheese, fruit, or oil on bread, or else you might get seafood and croquettes. Just be sure to go to the bar area — the sit-down restaurant half of the establishment does not offer free tapas, only full meals.
This list only scrapes the surface of a potential tapas experience in Granada. Most locals find their favorites and become regulars there, but with endless tapas, there is always more to explore. I know some day I’ll be back in Granada and, while I’ll have to return to my old stomping grounds, I can’t wait to see what else this tapas paradise has to offer.
Author’s Favorite Travel Gear
Travelon Digital Micro Scale: If you’re trying to keep your luggage to a carry-on, or have a free checked bag and want to avoid paying overweight luggage fees, a digital luggage scale is a necessity. Getting to the airport and realizing you have to pay a crazy fee, strategically layer up your clothes, or possibly even have to throw things away, is not a fun experience. This scale is small, portable, and easy to use — just hook it onto your bag and lift and it will weigh your luggage.
TSA-Approved Travel Bottle Set: Many of your favorite toiletries might not come in TSA-approved travel sizes, or even if they do, you might run out on your trip and not be able to refill sealed bottles. These bottles allow you to take travel sized containers of your favorite products and are easily refillable so depending on where you’re staying on your travels, you can fill up from the hotel/hostel supply or take a bit of the product from a friend or family to restock.
GoBag Self-Sealing Dry Bag: If you’re going anywhere where it might rain or where you might be in the water, a self-sealing waterproof bag is a necessity. Want to take your camera and phone on a boat ride or to the beach? This will prevent any damage even if you end up somehow getting your belongings wet. Carry valuables around in the pouring rain? Even if your backpack gets wet, anything inside this bag will stay dry.