How to: Tapear in Granada
You’ve probably gathered that there are a few different types of tapas cultures here in Spain. The most interesting (at least in my opinion) is definitely here in Granada! Like a number of other cities in Andalucía, free tapas are the norm. That’s right, you order a drink and voila―free food! It sounds fool-proof, but trust me there are some rules and tips you should know if you want to get the most out of your Granada tapas experience. Let me walk you through the basics.
1.) There is a set tapas schedule: Depending on the bar, tapas may be served all day long but if you want to ensure it’s ‘tapas time’ anywhere, go out between 1 and 4pm or 8pm and 12am.
Pro-Tip: Spaniards are a bit more serious about closing when they close then you may be used to in the US. Try not to arrive at 3:50pm and expect to order three rounds. If you arrive towards the end of either of these time-frames be sure to ask if they are still serving (“todavia pone tapas?”) and be prepared for them to tell you the kitchen is already closed. If, instead, they simply point out that the kitchen is closing in 10 minutes, ask to put in an order in advance for however many drinks/tapas you would like to order.
2.) Tapas only come with certain beverages: Wine, beer, and soft drinks (Coca Cola, Fanta, Nestea, etc) are fair game for getting free tapas. Typically coffee, tea, and mixed drinks (copas) do not come with tapas―I know, those cost just as much, if not more than the others; it doesn’t matter that’s just the way it is.
Pro-Tip: Sparkling water (agua con gas) is definitely included on the free tapas side, but I’ve had mixed experiences with plain bottled water―ask to be safe instead of sorry.
3.) Ask in advance if you can choose the tapas: This is especially important if you have an allergy, are vegetarian, or have any other type of restriction. Sometimes, the server will come back with your tapas as soon as he brings your drinks and it can be awkward to have to ask for something else if you can’t eat it.
Pro-Tip: Many bars don’t allow you to choose the tapas, there is simply a set rotation they will follow that everyone gets, sí o sí. Other bars will allow you to choose up to two varieties per table. The bars that allow every person to order whatever her heart desires are few and far between―cherish them!
4.) Don’t order other food until your tapas arrive: I’m a stickler for this one and will reprimand anyone who picks up the menu before we get our tapas. It sounds silly, but some waiters will take advantage of the fact that you are a guiri and assume that, if you are ordering ‘normal food,’ you don’t want or expect tapas.
Pro-Tip: Don’t let anyone deprive you of free food! If this happens, simply ask if your tapas are still coming. You may feel funny but, c’mon, free food is at stake!
5.) Ask about special offers: Especially in the student areas, it’s common for bars to offer two tapas with a jarra (larger glass) and this is usually great bang-for-your-buck!
Pro-Tip: If you’re looking for these kinds of specials, the option to choose your tapas, and bigger/better quality overall, avoid the touristy areas. We’ve got a great list going of some of our favorite places to give you some ideas of where to start. If you find another great place, please don’t hesitate to tell us about it! We’re always up from trying something new. Happy tapeando!