Tapa bars are infamous in Spain. These tiny little spots are filled with buzzing energy, locals, the best food, and the most delicious sangria that you want to drink by the pitcher. We wanted to visit as many local tapa bars and eat as many tapas as possible while visiting Spain. I would say we succeeded. We also made sure to drink plenty of wine and sangria to wash down all those tapas.
Our first stop in Spain was the city of Granada. Granada is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. There are countless vast vistas overlooking the city and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Moorish castle of Alhambra is a days-worth of history and beauty you can’t forget. The city’s small alleys that all seem to climb to the top of the city with small tapa bars tucked among them feel mysterious. It’s absolutely beautiful.
After a long day exploring the gardens and grounds of the Alhambra, our stomachs were aching for food. So naturally, we searched for the best tapa bar. We took the advice of Anthony Bourdain and needless to say, we found the very best one; Taberna La Tana.
The moment you walk into Taberna La Tana, you feel at home. The bar is quaint and cozy. Local wines fill the wall of the bar from floor to ceiling. Alongside the wine are baskets of fresh tomatoes and legs of serrano ham. There are small rustic tables filling the room. The terracotta tiles and bricks that line the walls make it feel like its been there for decades.
When we went it was filled with locals, jam-packed with laughter and the smell of wine. Somehow we managed a couple of chairs at the corner of the bar and was greeted by a motherly bar woman. We started with some glasses of local white wine and beers, quickly discovering Taberna La Tana is one of the last traditional tapa bars in Spain. Even after all these years, they serve free tapas alongside your drinks. And we’re talking melt-in-your-mount, still-dreaming-about tapas.
Our first plate of tapas included serrano ham, chorizo, manchego cheese accompanied by olives. The other salted tomato on sliced bread. Another round of drinks and we were gifted morcilla blood sausage on bread. We ordered a plate of more salted tomatoes since they were the juiciest and sweetest tomatoes we’d ever had. The motherly bar woman explained dishes as they came out and the recipes of her mother. She recommended we try the Spanish tortilla dish, an old generational recipe handed down from her mother, and we ate every last bite. You could taste the love that went into the dish and pride the bar woman had for the dish. Although surrounded by loud business locals and a few tourists, it felt as if we were sitting among friends at the bar woman’s house.
I’m not quite sure how many rounds of drinks we ordered, but I do know our time at Taberna La Tana is one of my favorite memories of Spain. We tried new dishes, we drank good wine, and we lived in the moment without a care in the world as we laughed so hard we cried.