Owing to the relative scarcity of vegetarians and vegans in Andalucia, it is often said that meat-free meals and snacks are hard to come by in even the biggest of cities. As far as Granada goes, though, that is simply not true. Not only are most bars and restaurants happy and able to cater for non-meat-eaters (and gluten free diets), there are a number of excellent establishments in and around the city center that specialize in vegan and vegetarian food. Here are the ones you need to know about.
Said to be Granada’s best vegetarian restaurant, Raices is a little way out of the historic town center (in the direction of the Zaidin neighborhood), but it’s a lovely walk and the menu justifies a slightly longer trek. The cooking of super-friendly chef David infuses food at risk of being bland with flavor and personality. His delicious seitan with garlic and mushrooms, for example, is a dish that will satisfy even the most committed of carnivores for texture and taste. As is fitting for its location in one of the great Moorish cities of southern Spain, Raices offers a range of traditional Spanish and Arabic dishes – from croquetas to cous cous – at good prices and is a fun, informal place to hang out.
Located on one of the main streets of Granada’s old Jewish neighborhood of Realejo, Hircuri Art has a bohemian ambience which appeals to the city’s many students and creatives. Inside, brightly-colored murals and paintings occupy every available square inch of wall. Its simple, canteen-like eating area is fairly small so you might have to wait a while for a table in the evenings and at weekends, but the freshly-prepared vegan dishes that are its speciality will be worth the wait. Hicuri is also famous for its desserts – its carrot cake is a must – and for an inventive, delicious vegan take on alioli.
Granada’s most chic vegan restaurant is situated at the bottom of the beautiful Arabic quarter, inside a section of one of the old city walls. Its cosy, Moorish-themed seating area surrounds the kitchen and bar, meaning you can watch the Argentinian chef at work on Paprika’s creative, diverse menu. After you’ve tasted their wonderful homemade hummus, other variations will seem like lame imitations. In the spring and summer, a few chairs and tables are laid out on the cobbled little street in front of the restaurant, creating a perfect space to watch life unfold on the busy Calle Elvira. Try also their excellent wine, sourced from the nearby Alpujarra region south of the Sierra Nevada. Quite simply a great place for lunch or dinner, whether or not you’re vegetarian or vegan.
As its name suggests, this is not your typical Andalucian restaurant. Papaupa serves meat dishes but not at the expense of depriving vegetarians of choice. Its Latin-American inspired menu features many inventive takes on vegetarian and vegan classics and the kitchen is willing to tweak dishes to order if required. Located on the main street of trendy Realejo – also home to Hicuro and El Piano – each table in Papaupa has a differently-colored tablecloth, giving it a quirky, relaxed feel only enhanced by the charming service. The breadth of its menu means that it’s not just one of the best vegetarian joints in town, but also one of the best restaurants in the old Jewish quarter of Granada, period.
Located two minutes from both Papaupa and Hicuro, El Piano is the place to go if you want to enjoy live music with some of the best vegan cooking in town: every evening (and also lunchtimes at weekends) a pianist takes to their old-fashioned piano to serenade diners. A mini-chain, El Piano also has branches in Malaga and – wait for it – York in the UK. Its dishes of the day are colorfully arranged in a display at the front of a warm, homely dining area, and its managerial team have also just started a magazine (in Spanish and English) containing, among many other things, interviews with famous vegans. In issue one – out now – Bill Clinton reminds us that ‘82 per cent of all people who have changed to a plant-based diet have shown lower risk of heart disease.’ Probably best not to take his word for that, though.