In this guide I am going to assume that you know nothing. A tapa is a small portion of food which you receive when you buy a drink. To give the customers tapas is a universal Spanish custom throughout Spain. In some cities such as Granada, Leon etc the tapas are free. They can vary from just a few nuts or a small dish of olives to almost a mini meal in itself. One of the greatest pleasures of being in Spain is to go out with your friends for tapas. It represents a very healthy way of drinking because as you drink you eat. It is normal to only stay in each tapas bar for one or two drinks so you may visit a whole series of bars during an evening. In some tapas bars you can choose which tapa to have whereas in other bars they have a set list of tapas which you get according to which round of tapas you are on.
If you look in a bilingual dictionary the word "tapa" means lid, cover, top, cap, etc. Many people will tell you that the word tapa originated because the glasses were physically covered by a small plate of food or a piece of food. This seems unlikely I prefer the explanation that the word "tapa" was used because it "covers" the appetite. Someone once told me that tapas were originally invented by the army to stop the soldiers getting too drunk on their nights out (another unlikely story).
If you are vegetarian some good tapas to try are: champiñones (mushrooms) setas (wild mushrooms) patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) patatas a lo pobre (potatoes slowly fired in oil, with green peppers if you're lucky) but more a thing to be eaten as "raciones" (plates of food in a restaurant) and accompanied by a salad.
If you fancy fish tapas, remember don't go out on a Monday as they don't fish on Sundays so the fish won't be fresh and a lot of the fish tapa bars won't be open.
Generally speaking tapas aren't served after 12pm at night.
It's not necessary to drink alcohol to get a tapa with your drink. Coca cola funnily enough doesn't count for a tapa, but if you don't feel like drinking alcohol and fancy a tapa, try a "cerveza sin alcohol" (alcolhol free beer), a "vino sin alcohol" (grape juice) or try a "tinto de verano" (red wine with soda and ice).
The words in brackets are a pronunciation guide. Using these you will have a strong foreign accent but they just might be able to understand you.
Me pones un/a ........... = Please can I have a ................. (may ponay oonna)
Nos llena aquí .......... = Can we have some more drinks please? or Same again please ( noh yenna a key)
By the way:
If you want some help with your Spanish have a look at our page which will prepare you to go to a bar in Spain. Click here.
or some simple vocab necesary for a trip to a Spanish restaurant Click here. If you are interested in Spanish food we have a page with some info including a glossary: Click here.
This is very inadequate but it may give you some starting points
In the centre of Granada.
El Meditárraneo (corner of Calle Gracia and Verónica de la Magadelena) Greek/Turkish-type tapas. There are lots of other tapas bars around this area.
Closer to the "marcha zone" (the area around Pedro Alarcon which is where most Granadinos of under 25 go out, although I am now too old to keep up the pace)
Bar Enrique (Calle Socrates) The tapas in this bar are excellent.
Plaza Isabel La Catolica to Plaza de Principe
Take a stroll along this road and there are plenty of bars to choose from.
Plaza de Carmen
The road that goes off Plaza de Carmen (San Matias I think it's called) has a whole series of bars.
Here is an example web page of a restaurant in this area