February 27, 2020
Free food! Eat here! We had read that Granada was a foodie place to eat and be prepared for free food. If you give away free food, then why would your customers want or need to buy anything off the menus? Well, we went to Granada and we got free food in every tapas restaurant. So crazy, but it’s true.
So, here is how it works. You find a tapas restaurant (there are some vegetarian) and you go in, fight your way to the bar, or maybe find a table, and order yourself a drink. Beer, wine, soft drinks will all run about €2 each. Your drink is delivered along with your free tapas. You order a second drink and you get an even better tapas. We never got past a second drink, but we were told they just keep getting better. Economically, I just don’t know how they do it. You don’t get to pic your free tapas in most restaurants, it’s just what they have available at that time. Another great thing about eating tapas is we never felt like we were over eating or being forced to eat everything on out plates. You walk away comfortable – not miserable.
When you order drinks or food in Spain, you have to be somewhat aggressive. The waiter will not hold your hand or read your mind. Don’t hesitate to get their attention and immediately rattle off what you want to drink. Once your drinks and tapas arrive, then you order any additional food you would like to eat. There are half and full portions. Careful, half serves two. Again, you have to get their attention and be prepared. Food is inexpensive in Spain and the bars and restaurants are very busy. They have plenty of people to wait on (I’m convinced Spaniards don’t cook).
This is a very popular restaurant with white tablecloths and a bar with a small area in the back for the tapas aficionados. Plus, they are also known for having the best rabo de torro or ox tail stew in Granada. So we bellied up to the tapas bar and ordered our drinks.
Our free tapas were hamburguesas de puerco – also known in Indiana as a mini pork burger with a side of fries and caramelized onions on a homemade light and airy bun. We also ordered a full order of the rabo de torro to share. The oxtail stew also came with another side of fries and veggies. Add a basket of bread and you have quite a lovely meal. Since we ordered a full portion main dish, our dinner cost us €35 and was worth every penny.
Los Manueles opened in Granada in 1917 and they are still going strong today. You will have to wait for a table or a place at the bar in this very busy restaurant. They are famous for their croquetas that are the size of a small potato, filled with creamy bechamel cheese, potatoes and bacon and will set you back about €1.75 per croquetas.
We received a plate of marinated pork as our tapas and ordered two croquetas and two meatballs for dinner. The meatballs were also €1.75 each and our very filling dinner cost us €15. On our second visit, we had the aubergine sticks with miel. We were a bit curious about eggplant sticks with honey. When the order arrived, it was aubergine sticks with molasses. So, miel can mean honey or molasses in Spain. Either way, they were good.
Bar Los Diamanté’s
This was one of our favorite tapas bars in Granada. On our first visit, our eyes were a bit larger than our stomachs and we ordered a bit too much food, but we ate it all and the bill was €25. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a big bill in southern Spain.
We ordered our drinks and we got freshly fried cod bites that were delicious. We then ordered butter and garlic mushrooms and a medio order of chipirones fritos (fried baby squid). These arrived at the table with an additional order of garlic bread rolls. Yes, we had way too much food.
On our second visit, we arrived 30 minutes before closing and there were very few people in the bar. We ordered and received the butter and garlic mushrooms as our tapas and ordered a medio plate of deep fried gambas (shrimp). Jeff ordered a second drink and we got a huge plate of chipirones fritos. Lots of food but the bill was only €17 this time. We learned the value of only ordering a medio plate.
Note: There are two Bar Los Diamanté’s in Granada and we visited the one on Calle Navas. The other Bar is across from the Plaza Nueva, a bit more hip, same food, but more expensive.
This is a great bar to watch the wait staff as they are moving with rapid fire precision. This is an old bar and the ambiance is great. The walls are lined with barrels of local wines and legs of black label pork are hanging from the ceiling. This is the bar to get an assortment of local cheeses and meats. It is standing room only but people politely make way for you to stand at the bar to get a drink and tapas.
Our first attempt to stop at Bar Avila was on a Sunday and that was a huge mistake. The small bar was packed and people were outside waiting. So, we made a return visit on Tuesday and walked right in and had a seat at the bar.
After ordering our drinks and getting a yummy plate of deep fried squid or chipirones fritos as our free tapas, we placed our order for lomo. Lomo is a plate of heavenly sliced roasted pork loin. The outside has a carmely crust and it’s sprinkled with various herbs and a generous helping of olive oil and course salt. Throw in a basket of bread and you have a yummy lunch. Drinks, lomo and bread cost us €17 .
La Picateria is considered a pintxos bar and not a tapas bar. The difference is pintxos are tapas on steroids. The flavors and creativity to make these lovely treats are kicked up a notch from a plate of tapas. At La Picateria they are purchased by weight so you pick what you want, they place them on a plate or in a container and away you go.