La Barrica- You Choose

There are many times when you may find yourself in the centre of Granada for the day and you really need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city but can only find tourist restaurants that do little to excite the appetite, or the wallet.

However, if you should be in the vicinity of El Cortes between Carrera del Genil and Acera del Darro, then luck is at hand because this wonderful establishment, opposite the Acera Del Darro entrance is all you will need. Not only are the prices reasonable, and the tapas large and satisfying, but - most importantly of all - they are listed on a large board behind the counter for you to select with each drink ordered.

¿ Y de tapa ?

A large roll filled with your selection arrives soon after the drink and, such are the generous sizes of these tapas, the need for a larger plate of food is postponed till a later hour of the day.

The bar is large, with seating at barrels, tables or at the bar itself and the waiters friendly and helpful. And of course the place is packed with all sorts, confirming the choice for visitors and residents alike.

And of course, very handy for those mid afternoon shopping necessities in that little place over the road.

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Bar Zurich: Gazpacho Heaven

poplar walk.jpgPlatos Combinados from: 7.50€
Closed: Don't know
We like: Vaso de Gazpacho, Bocadillo de Atún
Value for €: *****

You find yourself in the Poniente de Granada, driving through the superb vega and avoiding at all cost the A92. Its hot and you want to be outside but the sun is just too searing for anything that involves action. Sooner or later you will stumble across Villanueva Mesía, a small town very close the motorway but protected from the noise and fumes by forests of poplars. In this special place there are dappled walking tracks alongside the Genil that wind their way in and out of the town.

The town appears very sleepy (though perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye as the shopkeepers still take excitedly of the bank hold-up that took place there a year or two ago) but in the small plaza on Avenida de Andalucía there is a wonderful bar that justifies a visit to the town on a hot summers afternoon if the forests do not tempt you.

Bar Zurich has seats outside, ample parking at lunch time and a really well-priced menu. Perhaps the most attractive of all though is the large glass of gazpacho that is served up for just 1.50€. I couldn't resist it - so I had two and was in gazpacho heaven. Impressive too was the tuna bocadillo - enormous, fresh bread and cheap. What more could we have asked for? Good service? That was there too.

Avenida de Andalucia

18369 Villanueva Mesía

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Kiosko Las Titas

Menu del día: 12€
Closed: Mondays
We like: Ensalada Rusa, Montaditos de Salmon
Value for €: ***

In the centre of town there are many bars to escape Granada's heat but if you are driving in and want somewhere with a tranquil atmosphere then head in past the Science Museum and the Palacio de Congresos until you reach the river Genil and a lengthy park/paseo area with a car park on the right.

Leave the vehicle here - its just a few minuted walk to the center up the beautiful Carrera del Genil - and head across the nearest bridge to enter the park. Look for the spires of the Kiosko Las Titas and you will have arrived at one of the few really tranquil outside bars in the very center of the city. The Kiosko is in fact a large bar/restaurant that is not as expensive as you may first think. We had an enormous Ensaladilla Rusa for 4.00€ , Gazpacho at 2.80€ and a couple of Montaditos de salmon for just 2.70€ each.

The tropical surroundings are lush and the proximity to the river leaves a freshness in the air that is lost as you move further into the centre.

Raciones from 7.50€ e.g. Bonito con cogollos y pimientos asados
Montaditos: Bacalao - 3.50€, Bonito - 3.90€, Tortilla - 2.20€, Queso Añejo - 2.00€

Paseo de la Bomba, s/n
18008 Granada
Tel: 958 12 00 19

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La Quintana, Loja

Menu del día: No
Closed: Sundays
We like: Pimientos Rebozados, Pulpo a la Gallega
Value for €: *****

If only there were more bars like this in Andalucia! When you find one, its really worth remembering where it is...

La Quintana is situated unobtrusively on a corner near some steps and not far from the town hall (Palacio de Narvaez) in Loja's old town. What makes it special is that it offers a menu of tapas on the wall - a selection of the day - for you to choose from. When you order a drink, Emilio will serve it, tilt a jaw almost imperceptibility towards the wall menu and say, "tapa?".

If you come face to face with Juan (Emilio´s father who loves dogs, who will wave you in if you hesitate in the entrance with your panting mutt), he may not say anything at all, being a rather silent sort of fellow and just look on with his sad eyes and await your decision before shuffling away to the kitchen to order it.

So as you enter this very maroon and yellow bar remember to scan the wall for the menu and note down a few veggie options, pimientos rebozados is one of our favourites as well as pulpo a la gallega or berenjenas fritas con huevo de codorniz (see photo).

And whilst supping and munching, take a look at the old photos on the wall of past eras in the towns history. If you stroll over to where the loo´s are, you will see an old photo above the door on the right of the original Quintana bar that once existede further down the road,when Emilio was just a twinkling in the eye of his father.

Oh, and if you should arrive early in the morning, Emilio does one of the best tostada con tomate we have ever had in any bar in any part of Spain. The secret? Maybe its the application of his specially garlicky oil before the tomato but this is just my guess as its difficult to see when he has his back to you, and Emilio has a rather large back.

La Quintana also has a selection of food gifts for the folks back home - choose from a variety of wines, preserves such as jars of lucious peaches or tuna steaks in almond sauce (ventresca de atún en salsa de almendras) as well as local olives and honey.

Cafe Bar Quintana
Carrera de San Agustín, 14
18300 Loja
Tel: 958 32 11 38

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La Terraza del Coliseo

Evenings June-Sept only
Closed: Tuesdays

Specialities: Pipirrana

Value for €: *****

A wonderful, plant-filled oasis in the heart of Loja during the stifling inland July and August evenings, La Terraza del Coliseo is a summer terrace bar situated in the middle of the largest Carmen in the province.

A cool and refreshing alternative to most of the cramped and smokey bars in town, the friendly owner, Antonio, makes a point of serving up excellent tapas and will happily give you a vegetarian alterntive if you ask. (Watch out for the croquetas - they've got ham in them!) Recognise Antonio by his characteristic greeting: "How are you my friend?" but expect to practice some Spanish, especially with Luis the amicable waiter and much overworked employee

Alongside the Carmen sits the old theatre, built in the 30's but unused for over a decade now. If you catch Antonio in a moment away from the BBQ or Luis away form serving multiple tables, ask to have a look inside and they will happily show you round an authentic part of the town's history.

To find this hidden gem, walk down to the post office. As you approach take the left turn and then the first alley on your right, opposite the Peña flamenco. There is a concealed door at the end of this short alley.

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design by Dwayne Hunter
design by Dwayne Hunter