Letter from the TEDitor: Where To Eat In Southern Spain?
A colleague is headed to Granada and southern Spain for vacation – any recs on where to eat? [Email sent Nov 28, 2018]
[Email Response, Nov 28, 2018]
Granada is the birthplace of tapas so at any tapas bar you can walk in, buy a 1 euro beer (or 2 euro wine) and get a snack ranging from bread with small fish on it to meatballs. As a result, I don't think we had a single traditional sit-down meal in Granada. Generally, as a way to keep you drinking, the tapas will increase in complexity with each round of drinks you get. I generally drank tiny beers (cañas) so as not to end up drinking 12 glasses of wine. You can also always order stuff from the menu but I really enjoyed not knowing what was coming next. One of my favorite spots was La Tana. This place was featured on No Reservations so it becomes a bit touristy but the guy behind the bar knows his wine. He'll ask if you want something "fuerte o suave" (strong or light) and then will start pouring tastes. It's the best. It will get packed from 10:30 on and it's pretty small so keep that in mind. One night we went right when they opened and posted up at the bar and stayed for 6 hours making friends with strangers. Definitely ask the owners to recommend restaurants and other bars if you leave.
Another favorite tapas/wine bar was La Bodeguita de al lado. This place is run by a crazy old lady (crazy in the best way possible). She has amazing local cheeses to pair with wines as well as plenty of other tasty food. Every wine we had there was amazing.
If seafood is your thing, check out Bar Los Diamantes II around the corner from La Tana. They specialize in fried seafood of every type but they have plenty of steamed/raw stuff to enjoy as well. They also had this tomato and cucumber salad that surprisingly delicious for being a simple tomato and cucumber salad. There are multiple locations of Bar Los Diamantes, the original is also a great time.
Beyond that, walk around and poke your head into random tabernas. Most of our trip was wandering around looking for crowded tapas bars and going in for a drink and a few bites to eat. Also, eat as much Jamon Iberico as you can.
The other major thing to do in Granada is the Alhambra. 100% go. It is astoundingly beautiful. Note that you have to buy tickets to get into the Alhambra and I don't believe you can purchase them day-of so buy ahead of time. We booked a walking tour that was really nice. It was cool getting to learn the context of what you're looking at. If it works for your schedule, I highly recommend a night time stroll through the grounds (again, buy ahead). Seeing all the Moorish architecture lit dramatically from the bottom was awesome. If you haven't booked your hotel/airbnb yet, look into staying at the Parador at the Alhambra for a night. Spain has a really cool system of castle hotels called Paradores and the one in Granada is no joke. I'm fairly certain that if you stay there you can walk around the grounds at night for free when most of the crowds are gone.
In Granada, the Alhambra is on one hill and opposite that on another hill is the Albaicin. If the timing is right, take in a sunset at the Plaza de San Nicolas. It will be popular with tourists but the views are unbeatable and there's usually some guys playing Gitano music - just don't buy their CD. I bought one and after the first 2 tracks, it was blank. Grab a beer and hang for a bit. It's a bit of a hike up some cobblestone streets but it's a really special place. From the "Mirador" you can see the Alhambra in its entirety as well as the Generalife, Nasrit Palace and the rest of Granada. The Albaicin is a really fun neighborhood to spend a day wandering too (it's also pretty close to La Bodeguita de al lado!).
Not sure if you speak Spanish but no big deal if not. Most places will have menus in English so worst case scenario, you can just point to what you want. Cabs are pretty reasonable, just know that the drivers generally prefer cash.
Let me know if you have any questions. Have an amazing trip!
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