restaurants and bars in Granada

Tapas and the Menu del Dia

Since the 19th century Andalusians reportedly protected their drinks from flies and dust with a “tapa”, or cover, of a slice of bread. This custom evolved into the tradition of tapas – or having a snack with each drink at the appropriate time of day. In Granada tapas is a thriving tradition and all the more welcome as the tapas is free – this is not usually the case in other parts of Spain. The tapa might be a small saucer of ham, cheese or tortilla with bread, or it might be a stew or some anchovies. Knowing which bars serve tapas is a bit of an art. You are most likely to get tapas in the run up to lunch – from about 1pm to 3pm, and again in the run up to dinner – from about 7:30 to 9pm. You will get a tapas with alcoholic drinks and refrescos (cokes, juices, water), but not with tea or coffee. You probably won’t get a tapas if you order food, such as a bocadillo, at the same time.

Larger plates of the same food is called a racion or media racion. These are best shared between groups of people, and can work out to be quite expensive for small numbers of people.

Be warned – in most bars you’ll have to have quite a few drinks to have the volume of a meal. Tapas are not really a substitute for a meal, unlike tapas bars in England.

When hunger hits, by far the best value option is the menu del dia. This is normally served at lunchtimes during the week and is made up of 3 courses : 2 equally- sized savoury dishes (such as paella, and lomo (or pork steak) with chips) and a dessert which is likely to be “flan” (crème caramel) or arroz con leche (rice pudding). A menu del dia includes bread and often a drink of wine, beer or water, and normally cost about 9 euros. Quite a bargain. The menu del dia often will not be shown on “la carta”, or written a la carte menu: to ask for it, say : “Tiene un menu del dia?” A good guide is to look for busy lunchtime places, particularly where you see groups of workmen. Also look out for the “comedor” or dining room sign above a door in the bars. After a menu del dia the whole Spanish day makes much more sense. Lunch can take 2 hours and there’s little need for a big meal in the evening – so tapas come into their own. Que viva….

Another meal option peculiar to Spain is the platos combinados, a meat or fish dish, normally with chips and a fried egg. These are normally good value but not quite as large as a menu del dia and can be found in many bar/restaurants.

Good places for a menu del dia in the Albayzin and near to Casa de las Granadas are La “Entraiya” Casa Rafa at Calle Pages 15, Casa Torcuato on Calle Pages at Plaza de Carniceros, and Bar Aixa in Plaza Larga. Various bar/restaurants with atmospheric outdoor dining can be found in Plaza Aliatar, near San Salvador, or on Plaza San Miguel Bajo, by following the small buses along below Mirador de San Nicolas.

A great, lively, traditional bar restaurant in the town centre which serves a substantial menu del dia is La Bodega on Calle Jardines off Calle Puentezuelas near Plaza Trinidad.

The best bars

Good streets packed with tapas bars are Calle Navas off Plaza del Carmen near Puerta Real, Calle Elvira and its side streets which runs parallel to Gran Via, and Paseo de los Tristes, the narrow street which runs beside the River Darro at the base of the Albayzin and has excellent views up to the Alhambra.

Another good bar and cafe with a large outdoor area in the town centre near Puerta Real is Cafe Futbol. It does tapas, ice cream or "chocolate y churros" (a Granada institution of hot chocolate with deep fried donut strips. Try it once.) Cafe Futbol is on Plaza Mariana Pineda.

Traditional bodegas

Some bars specialize in fine wines and are known as bodegas. Bodega Castaneda on Calle Almireceros just off Calle Elvira near Plaza Nueva is an atmospheric, traditional bar offering “tablas”, or boards, with assorted cheeses, meats and pates. They also offer local hot dishes, and extra tapas can be bought.

There is a slightly pricey upmarket bodega called Puerta del Carmen, in Plaza del Carmen opposite the townhall (recognisable as it has a blindfolded guy on a horse on the roof) and near the entrance to Calle Navas.

Bar “Las Titas” between Paseo del Salon and the River Genil, along from Puente Genil, is a somewhat upmarket stop for coffee or beer after shopping in Corte Ingles.

Restaurants with Alhambra Views

Basic Spanish restaurants do great menu del dias, as described above, but for a special holiday treat or celebration we recommend going to one of the upmarket restaurants on the Albayzin hillside with great views of the Alhambra, particularly at night when it is floodlit. It is advisable to make an advance reservation and to ask for a table with a view.

The Mirador de Morayma on Calle Pianista Garcia Carrillo 2, (tel 958 228290), east of the Mirador of San Nicolas does an excellent tasting menu (“degustacion”) for 30 euros per person, and they will do a vegetarian version if ordered in advance. It is in a traditional Carmen with extremely pretty gardens although the service can be slow.

Another good options in the Albayzin with fine Alhambra views is El Agua in Plaza del Aljibe del Trillo (tel 958 224356). It is quite close to the Mirador San Nicolas. Adjacent to the mirador itself, Estrellas de San Nicolas on Calle Atarazana Vieja, 1 (tel 958 288739) offers an upmarket evening set menu in a wonderful setting - ask for a table with a view.

An incredible tasting menu and a great evening out

La Oliva (Rosario, 9 Granada 18009. Tel: 958 225754) is a delicatessan that sells produce from the region. It also does an excellent "tasting menu" in the evening of about 14 small courses which costs about 35 euros including drinks. It is very good value. The chef and host speaks English and works marvels turning out complex meals on a camping stove out the back. We can thoroughly recommend a visit. It will take the whole evening and you will be completely stuffed. But it will be very memorable. You will need to book.

Vegetarian Restaurants

La Oliva - see above - does vegetarian options, please mention when booking.

El Higo is a laid back cafe bar with a secret garden down a narrow alley in the Albaicin (Horno de Hoyo 17). They have vegetarian options and are very friendly.

Hicuri is an appealling vegan cafe restaurant in Realejo (on Calle Escolatica on the corner of Plaza Los Girones)

A traditional 70s style "proper" vegetarian restaurant is Raices, slightly further out on Calle Pablo Picasso 30, in Barrio La Quinta, over the Puente Verde bridge.

In the city centre, there are two, related, Indian restaurants offering vegetarian options. The Mughlais are at Calle Casillas de Prats 6, off Plaza Garcia, and Calle Joaquin Costa, near Plaza Nueva.

Botanico, in Calle Malaga opposite the city botanical gardens, is trendy and has vegetarian options.

There are lots of pizzerias around the city centre: the ones tucked down side streets between Calle Elvira and Gran Via (eg Placeta Silleria), close to Hannegans Irish Bar, are slightly closer to the real thing.

FresCo on Gran Via opposite the Cathedral is an all-you-can-eat Italian pizza & pasta, ideal for a cheap blowout.

Also see the details of La Paprika, an atmospheric bar with veggy options, and El Piano, a vegan take out and cafe, on the gluten free page.

www.happycow.net has details of various Granada veggy options as well providing details on vegetarian restaurants and health food shops from all over the world.

Gluten Free eating

Click here if you have wheat or gluten allergies. We recommend lots of places to shop and eat out.

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The Alhambra from Sacromonte