Granada is famous for its free tapas and going on a tapas crawl or "ir de tapeo" is a way of life for people in Granada. The idea is to hop from bar to bar, having a drink in each one and planning your route according to what you feel like at the time.
Introduction to tapas
A tapa is a small portion of food that you are given when you order a drink in a bar. The quality and size of the tapas can vary enormously and range from a few olives to almost a mini meal in itself. One of the greatest pleasures of living in Spain is to go out with friends for tapas and it's quite a cilized way of drinking as you eat as you drink. In some tapas bars you can choose your tapa and in others you are given one according to the round of drinks you are on. Generally speaking, tapas aren't served after midnight (or earlier, depending on the bar).
The origin of the word TAPA
There are many theories as to the origins of the Spanish "tapa". Literally it means "cover" or "lid" and here are some of the most popular: glasses in taverns would be covered with a plate or a slice of bread or ham to keep out the flies (or sand according to one story about King Alfonso XIII in Cádiz); having recovered from a serious illness when he was only able to eat small amounts of food, King Alfonso X decreed that food should always be served with every drink sold in taverns; or Felipe III who introduced a law obliging bartenders to serve a small amount of food with every drink purchased in order to curb drunkeness among sailors and soldiers.
Can I choose my own tapa?
It all depends on the bar and normally the tapas are chosen for you. There is generally a set series of tapas so the first might be fried aubergine slices (berenjenas fritas) and the second fried fresh anchovies (boquerones fritos) for example. However, some bars have a tapas menu for you to choose from and you will either need to choose one tapa for your group or one for each person depending on the bar. In bars where you don't choose, if you are vegetarian, it is a good idea to ask for a meat-free tapa: "Me puedes poner una tapa sin carne".
How to ask for a a beer in Granada
You order beers in Granada according to their size: "una caña" (250ml) or "un tubo" (330ml). The local beer is Alhambra and it is made at the Cervezas Alhambra beer factory in Granada.
How to order a glass of wine
To order a glass or wine, use the word "copa" rather than "vaso" which is only for water, beer or soft drinks. So simply ask for "Una copa de vino tinto/blanco/rosado" (A glass of red/white/rosé wine).
Do all drinks come with tapas?
Normally only alcoholic drinks include a tapa but you can also order an alcohol-free beer (una cerveza sin) or grape/apple juice (un vino sin alcohol) and these are always served with tapas. However, this has changed in recent years and generally speaking you will also get a tapa with a Coke or Fanta.