In Spain, there are bars (lots and lots of them) – and then there are the so-called “Bars del Barrios,” or “Bars of the Neighborhoods.” These, as their colloquial name suggests, are often the places where tourists don’t venture: local joints frequented by locals. They can sometimes seem a little intmidating or unappealing to the outsider, but they are usually some of the best (and cheapest) places to eat and drink in town. Culture Trip has sought out some of Granada’s most characterful Bars del Barrios, so you can get a real flavor of local life off the beaten tourist path.
A household name for Granadinos of all generations, this famous old bar is a must for its cured jamons and chaotic atmosphere. Prop yourself at the bar, order a delicious (and decently-priced) vermouth – the locals’ drink of choice – and be entertained by the wizardry and speed of the waiters, who work beneath hanging legs of jamon and a giant bull’s head. This place is always packed with Spaniards enjoying voluble catch-ups and, although tourists are often to be seen among them, Castaneda has never lost its authentic “bar of the barrio” feeling.
A relaxed atmosphere with equally relaxed opening hours at Casa Julio
Tucked away in a short alleyway off Plaza Nueva, Casa Julio – a specialist in tapas of fried fish – has some of the most unpredictable opening hours in Granada. But if you do see it open you must duck in. The laconic yet charming proprietor will serve you, for example, a plate of fresh calamari, crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, or a simple plate of cold meaty gambas with a wedge of lemon. The inside resembles a kiosk more than a bar, so most partons stand around several tall circular tables in the alleyway outside, from where you can watch crowds of visitors heading to the more modern-looking watering holes. When Julio decides to open, that is.
Situated on one of Albaicín’s prettiest streets, La Fragua offers insanely cheap drinks and meal-sized tapas in a bohemian environment. The owner, constantly swigging from a bottle of Alhambra beer, is often at least half-cut and always (hic) very friendly. He personally chooses the bewildering selection of music played (Édith Piaf one minute, Nirvana the next) and to accompany what must be the cheapest glasses of wine in Granada – €1.60 a pop – you will be absolutely spolied with free food as you watch the gypsy life of Albaicín unfold on the street outside. And don’t be put off, as many no doubt are, by the hippies and callejeros (streetbums) that hang about the entrance with their ravenous dogs: it’s all part of La Fragua’s charm.
A lively local joint, Los Diamantes on Calle Navas is the original and best
Another classic Bar del Barrio, there are in fact three branches of Los Diamantes in central Granada, including a shiny new one on Plaza Nueva that is always packed with tourists. For the original and best version of this fried-fish specialist though, you need to head to Calle Navas, a bar-packed, chaotic street off Plaza Isabel la Catolica. Los Diamantes I, as it might be called, is so small that you have to yell your order from the doorway to make yourself heard above the jam of Granadinos – but that’s half the fun of visiting one of the most loved local bars in Granada. If you like tidiness, order, and a little peace and quiet when eating or dining out, look elsewhere.
Bar Pibe on the busiest tourist street in Sacromonte does well to retain its "local" feel
You can’t visit Granada without seeing the cave-studded gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte. About halfway along the Camino de Sacromonte, when the views of the Darro valley and Alhambra suddenly open up, is a dappled white cave with a few tables and chairs outside. It if weren’t for the awning that bears the name of this rustic local bar, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a private patio. You say you’ll just stop off for one at Pibe – and next thing you know, you check your watch and you’ve spent a whole afternoon on the enchating terrace, pondering the Alhambra and listening to the crickets and birds singing in the valley beneath. This is on Sacromonte’s main tourist street but it’s to the owner’s credit that it never feels like a tourist hangout.