Beautiful weather, incredible beaches and fabulous Mediterranean cuisine are only a few of the draws that keep visitors to Andalusia coming back year after year. Familiarizing oneself with local gastronomy is often one of the most rewarding aspects of any trip, which is very much the case in Andalusia, Spain’s sunny southern province whose quintessential culinary offerings are the so-called “tapas”- small plates of traditional appetizers that often accompany a drink.
The Andalusian Tapas Route has gained increasing popularity with visitors in recent years, and here is a brief guide to traditional tapas from several different settlements across Andalusia.
Granada: Free tapas
Mostly known for its splendid fortress of Alhambra, Granada is probably the city with the oldest tradition of tapas in Spain. Typical Spanish dishes are often served free of charge with a drink order. The selection is vast (from seafood to cured ham), but the best thing about it all is that tapas are complimentary – a fact that never ceases to amaze first-time visitors.
There are plenty of places where you can enjoy a glass local beer with a tapa: Plaza de Toros, Gonzalo Gallas Street, and a multitude of town squares with seating overlooking the Alhambra.
Jaén: A place for lovers of olive oil
Just one hour away from Granada, Jaén is the world largest producer of olive oil. This small city is surrounded by one of the most common landscapes of the region: extensive plains of olive trees. Tapas are much more than a simple snack in Jaén, they are a lifestyle. The most important establishments are located in the old town, all serving the standout local dishes pipirrana (pepper salad) and migas (fried breadcrumbs with vegetables and/or meat – pictured below).
And don’t forget, it is forbidden to leave Jaén without trying tostada de tomate y aceite (toast with tomato and olive oil) for breakfast.
Ronda: Taste the difference
Situated in the province of Málaga, Ronda stands out for its Arabic architectural heritage. The city is located in a very mountainous area about 750m above sea level, divided into two by the Guadalevín River. The gastronomy of this small town is based largely on wine and processed pork, though it is also possible to find bars with seafood specialties due to its proximity to the coast of Málaga.
Without a doubt, tasting a traditional tapa while enjoying the outstanding views from a height of almost 750m can be quite a treat.
Seville: Shining brighter than any other
Seville is the capital and largest city of Andalusia. As a metropolis, it has nothing to envy Madrid or Barcelona, and while Granada has the Alhambra, Seville boasts of La Giralda. Tapas and football go hand in hand in the Andalusian capital, as fans of the city’s largest teams, Betis and Sevilla FC, often take advantage of the numerous match day tapas specials. The 3 most popular and requested dishes are rabo de toro (bull tail – pictured), cocido andaluz (a manner of stew) and pincho moruno (meat skewers).
Moreover, if you go in the summer, we advise you to try some cold gazpacho to beat the heat, because the temperature can easily reach 45 degrees.
Cádiz: A seafood-lover’s paradise
Cádiz is a southwestern city with an important port, and one of the oldest inhabited cities in the country, with a history that dates back to the Phoenicians. In addition, the first Spanish constitution was drafted here in 1812. Leaving history aside, the gastronomy of Cadiz is made for seafood lovers. A quick walk through the narrow streets of the old town is enough to realize that 70% of menus are based on fish. Among the most common tapas are cazón en adobo (fried fish), tortilla de camarones (shrimp fritters), atún en tomate, urta a la Roteña (rock fish) and raya al pimentón (stingray with paprika).
Combine your gastronomic tour of Cádiz with a surfing or windsurfing course for the perfect summer holiday.