Granada is famous for its magical Alhambra, the charming tea houses, the old district of the colorful Albaicín barrio and one more crucial thing: tapas. Although you can enjoy these delicious bites all over Spain, Granada is known for its huge portions, good quality and, most importantly, that they’re free when you order a drink! That’s right – you order a beer or glass of wine and are automatically brought a plate of tapas on the house. This means that it is, in fact, harder not to get free tapas in Granada than to do.
Varying from just a few nuts or a small dish of olives to hot mini meals, tapas are a great way to stay full when out drinking, representing a very healthy way of going out. So what are this delicious tradition’s origins? How come the Spanish get spoiled to such a mouthwatering free lunch? There are several theories for the history of the tapas. What is sure, however, is that the word “tapa” means “to cover” in Spanish. Speculations on the roots of tapas range from mythological to practical. Many will tell you that the word originated just because glasses were covered by a small plate of food to keep the flies away, or because it is common to stand in the bars and this was the most convenient way to carry the dishes. Another theory is that the word tapa is used because it “covers” the appetite. Rumor also has it that in the 13th century King Alfonso fell ill and he was told to eat only small bites of food with wine for a quick recovery. He discovered the benefits of snacking and made it a law that all bars serve food when pouring alcohol. A less appetizing suggestion is that in Castilla-La Mancha the 16th century landlords wanted to sponsor free nibbles of mature cheese to “cover” the taste of their bad wine.
No matter the history, tapas are a popular way to eat in Spain, cherished by the Spanish and tourists alike. Ir de tapas means going from on tapas bar to the next and only staying in each bar for one on two drinks, enabling you to enjoy different bars and tapas during the whole night. Usually increasing in quality and quantity with each drink, tapas can be cold, such as mixed olives and cheese, or warm, like chopitos, which are fried baby squid or pulpo (octopus). The list of tapas is endless and there are many variations, but some of the favorites include: jamon serrano (ham), gambas (prawns), mejillones (mussels), patatas bravas, tortilla de patatas, pescaditos (tiny fried fish), meatballs, the catalan allioli, bacalao, anchovies, calamares, chorizo sausage, croquetas, empanadas, chipirones (baby squid) and pechinas (scallops).
Every visitor to Granada has to experience this traditional and delicious snacking. By ordering a drink in anything that doesn’t say “restaurant” you will definitely get one of the aforementioned mouthwatering portions. The most competitive tapas bars are along Calle Elviro, so the portions are the biggest there. The more classy tapas, and, therefore, more expensive ones can be found along Calle Navas. But you won’t have a problem finding a bar with napkin covered floors, typical Pata Negra’s above the bar and truly excellent tapas.
Come take a look at our apartments in Granada and you are one step closer to enjoying one of these flavorsome freebies!