Five more favourite bars in Granada
One of the requests we receive most often through this blog is for recommendations of tapas bars in Granada. It has been some time since we first listed a short list of some of our favourite hostelries and we thought it might be time that we had a bit of an update. Our initial list still holds true, and since writing that post we have visited many more.
We have also changed our opinion on one or two, and one of our favourite bars changed ownership. We used to love a contemporary-styled bar called Vega, tucked away in an unpromising side street beneath the Realejo. Here, the owner, José, was an absolute font of knowledge of Spanish wines and he had an ever-changing cellar of delicious wines to suit all tastes. He knew the provenance of the wines and was happy to provide tastings for his clients. His tapas, too, were different - bao buns with delicious filings, tasty slices of quiche and much more. José provided all the wine for our wedding a year ago, and the choice was superb. Sadly, shortly after our wedding José’s tenure of Vega ended and the bar stood empty for a while before being taken over by a Scandinavian owner who is breathing new life into the place.
Another bar that started with such promise, Mercader de Sedas, appears to have fallen into something of a slump. A bar and restaurant in a sympathetically restored former silk market, this establishment had a lovely collection of wines and some very tasty tapas. The manager, Sergio, was charming and attentive and we were always welcomed as very good friends. As a result, we did enjoy some great evenings there, and some very lovely lunches taken in the patio. Sergio, it seems, has moved on and the bar staff now do not have the same warmth. The tapas is not quite as exciting and the atmosphere seems to have become a little diluted. A shame, but with over 2,000 bars and restaurants in Granada, there is always an alternative.
LOCATION NOTE: We are using What3Words maps to give you a more accurate location for these bars. Just click on the link below the address.
So, here is our current list of favourites, all of which are small, hidden-away places with either great tapas or great wines or, indeed, both!
Calle Gracia 21, Granada
We love this cosy wine bar, well hidden in one of the streets leading away from the Cathedral. Paco, the owner, is a delightful host with a twinkle in his eye. He has a fabulous collection of wines and is now able to serve his more expensive vintages by the glass. We rarely go for anything with a hefty price label, and are quite happy to trust his judgment. He now knows what types of wine we enjoy and whenever we go he has something else for us to try and which, without fail, is delicious. The little kitchen, off one corner of the bar, turns out some very surprising tapas. The chef has clearly trained in a variety of countries, and there is a touch of Asian fusion in some of the perfectly presented small plates. There is a menu of raciones or larger plates of food, all depending on what might be available at that time of the year.
Pacurri is a bar that makes you feel entirely at home. The clients all seem to know Paco and vice versa, so it is rather like being part of an extended family, even after just one visit. Paco and Pacurri, for us, represents the heart of Granada hospitality.
Lepanto, 3, 18009 Granada
Another small, but very characterful bar that has only recently taken on a new lease of life under the management of José Luis. A friend of ours posted on Instagram a photo of her own visit to this place and we thought we ought to try it out. As a result of that first visit, this lovely place has become firmly fixed in our listing of favourite bars. José Luis is a warm and hugely welcoming host, greeting his guests with a hug and a wide smile. The tapas, created in the tiniest kitchen or on a plancha behind the bar, are tasty and generous and the atmosphere is fabulous.
This is one of the oldest tapas bars in Granada and it has retained much of its original character. The guests are locals: couples, families or friends often on their way out to a concert of fiesta elsewhere in the city, or who have just popped in for a quick drink and a bite to eat. We love it here.
Calle Monjas del Carmen 2, 18009 Granada
Casa de Vinos, we would concede, is not the best place for fabulous tapas but it has a huge range of the most delicious Spanish wines. It is in a small square lined with other bars and restaurants, so it tends to get overshadowed a little. It is easy to mistake the couple of little tables and chairs outside as perhaps belonging to another, larger establishment. Inside is dark, and there are unforgiving wooden benches and low stools huddled around small tables. However, character seeps from the pores of this humble place, and the bar area is framed by a grid listing all the wines available by the bottle, by the glass and batched together under the headings of ‘Blanco” or ‘Tinto’.
I sampled Godello white wine here for the first time - wine produced from the Godello grape in a tiny corner of north-west Spain - and was instantly hooked; it is delicious.
The tapas that comes with the wine are simple - often cheese and bread, or boquerones (anchovies in vinegar) - but then, with such fine wines to enjoy you only really need a little nibble on the side.
Bodega Los Tintos
Calle San Isidro, 23, 18005 Granada
Bodega Los Tintos is another traditional wine bar, with exposed brick barrel-vaulted ceilings and bright lighting. It is a neighbour of two of the best tapas bars in Granada, Avila and Avila II, both of which tend to get so busy that is almost impossible to elbow a way in. Los Tintos is a quieter alternative with a menu of tapas available to choose.
The tapas here are good, and we particularly love the Berenjenas fritas - fried aubergine. Fried aubergine is something of a tapas staple, and is often served with a drizzle of molasses or honey. Here, the thin strips of aubergine and courgette are coated in the lightest of batters and fried in the cleanest of oils and the result is delicious, with no need for any further embellishment.
Calle de los Cuchilleros 11, 18009 Granada
Our lovely friend Gayle, founder and chief tapas expert at Granada Tapas Tours, introduced us to this bar (among many others!), and it is a lot of fun!
As the name suggests, the bar is behind a shop which may well put off many an unsuspecting customer. You walk into a tiny delicatessen, where customers are often chatting about jamón or cheese with the owner, squeeze behind the counter and then through a doorway into the bar at the back. In the summer, there is a small terrace at the front, with a few tables and chairs set out, which may be less intimidating for the uninitiated!
The walls often display the works of local artists, and benches line the walls, tucked into dimly-lit corners. The tapas, and larger plates, feature many of the products for sale in the shop, so there is a lot of jamón and great selections of cheeses. On one of our visits, there was a group of people celebrating a birthday, if I recall, and we ended up having a bit of a sing-along and dance of the Sevillana! I should add that Andrew and I watched while our lovely friend Natalie, with whom we were having a drink, was the one to get up and have a fling.
Traditional bars, serving great wines and accompanied by good tapas. We love all of the above for so much more than just the drink and the food. For us, they epitomise the very best of the hospitality, warmth and character of Granada and long may they continue to do so.