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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Tapas culture is absolutely iconic in Spain. Consisting of a range of small snacks served in bars alongside drinks, there are many legends as to how this tradition started. Generally it is believed that, given the word 'tapas' translates to 'cover' or 'lid', the slices of bread or meat that tavern goers traditionally covered their drinks with to protect them from flies, dirt and sand, eventually became that tapas that we know today. Another explanation suggests that, after King Alfonso X recovered from an illness by drinking wine and small snacks, all bars were ordered to serve snacks alongside the beverages they served.

Regardless of how the tradition started, it eventually evolved into what it is today: wide selections of largely savoury snacks that can be ordered alongside drinks, and even combined to make a full meal. But did you know that in many traditional tapas bars, you can still get your tapas for free when you order drinks? That's right! For free! Within traditional tapas culture, when you order a round of drinks, a portion of tapas will be delivered alongside it for free. The catch? The dish that you will be served is completely random, you won't know what you're getting until it arrives at your table. Whether this is exciting or nerve-wracking is for you to decide!

The sad news is that this practice is really in decline. Some of the reasons for this, of course, are positive: in reducing food waste, bars across Spain are making their businesses more sustainable, and caring for the planet too - we are very much in support of this! But it does mean that if you want to try this intrinsic part of Spanish tradition you have to look carefully to find a bar that still serves free tapas. And usually these won't be vegan. Though we did find a few over the course of our time in Spain, the vegan and vegetarian dishes available were quite limited - usually all we were able to try was a bowl of potatoes or olives. So we were absolutely ecstatic when we found La Goma, a fully veggie-vegan bar in the centre of Granada, that has a full vegan menu but also - you've guessed it - serves free tapas with drinks!

How was the vegan tapas bar?

Though we were the first people to arrive at La Goma when it opened (people eat late in Spain!) we felt so welcome and comfortable in this bar. The staff were super friendly and helpful, especially when we asked them all about Spanish drinks - they were really happy to advise us. It felt so cosy and traditional inside, and very homely, with lots of cook nicknacks around, miscellaneous local posters on the walls, and gently lit in by the warm fairy lights that spanned the walls. Wooden furniture made for an indoor area that almost felt like it could be an outdoor patio. Needless to say, La Goma is very popular and we weren't alone there for long before this legendary vegan tapas bar became a hive of activity with many people having drinks and tapas like us - and others ordering meals from the main menu.

What tapas did we get - and how did it taste?

Over the course of the evening, we ordered three rounds of drinks - which meant that we received three bowls of homemade tapas too! The first of these turned out to be the favourite for both of us. This tasty pasta dish combined small macaroni pasta with big juicy chunks of aubergine, with a warming sauce of delicate spices. It tasted incredible, and was topped with a vegan sour cream and a sprinkling of paprika... honestly, I could have eaten three bowls of this pasta dish! It started the night off on exactly the right note!

The second tapas dish we were served was a ratatouille with cous cous. Reflecting the fusion of Spanish and Moroccan cuisine that is typical in Andalusia, this dish was just as tasty and filling as the pasta - with really good portion sizes for the two of us to share. I really loved the balance of textures, as well as the delicately flavoured cous cous alongside the more punchy flavours of the vegetables in the tomato sauce. What a delicious tapas dish!

Third, and probably our least favourite, was a bowl of salmorejo. If you haven't heard of this Andalusian tapas dish, we have a full blog on it - including its history and our verdict of a vegan version! By this point we were pretty full, and not really fancying a cold soup after eating those warm dishes. Though this salmorejo was tasty, with the classic tomato and vegetable flavours, and the thickness that is typical of the dish, neither of us could finish it. It would have been great as a first tapa for us I think - just a bit too heavy for finishing off the night with!

And how were the drinks?

Sometimes ordering alcohol as a vegan can be a tricky situation - especially in countries where you are not fluent in the language. Beers and wines can sometimes contain non-vegan - and even non-vegetarian - ingredients, and it can be difficult to determine whether a particular product is vegan friendly or not. For this reason, it was really great to be drinking at a fully veggie-vegan bar - so we could be assured that the products we were consuming would be suitable for our requirements!

And as we were in Spain, of course we decided to enjoy a variety of local drinks! Our first round was my absolute favourite drink to enjoy in Spain: tinto de verano. Also known as summer wine, this drink combines red wine and lemonade to make a really fruity, flavoursome, and refreshing mix of flavours. Yum! Honestly, the tinto de verano that we tried here was absolutely delicious, everything that I love about this drink and more got our evening started on a really good note.

We then moved on to a Spanish vermouth, which we asked to be mixed with a little soda water so that we could savour it alongside our tapas. I was surprised by how much I liked this drink - something I've been less of a fan of in the past! The botanical flavours paired really well with the ratatouille and cous cous dish it was served with (I'm a vermouth convert now!) Finally, we ordered two glasses of red wine to bring our night to a close. This wine wasn't my favourite - it had a fairly full and intense flavour, while I prefer a lighter and sweeter red; Mike agreed that our final tapas and final drink were both our least favourite of the night. But honestly, though the last rounds weren't entirely to our taste, everything here was excellent quality and we left feeling very satisfied!

What were our lasting impressions of our night at the vegan tapas bar? Would we go back?

Our evening at La Goma was a brilliant experience. We were so grateful that as a vegan and a vegetarian we were able to enjoy this vibrant and eclectic part of Spanish culture - and getting tapas for free is obviously a massive pro too! If this hadn't been one of our last nights in Granada, we totally would have gone back for more: it was a delicious and inexpensive way to enjoy some classic Spanish food and drinks in a comfortable and welcoming setting.

For three rounds of drinks, we paid around €15 each (approx. £12.84 or $16.28). Considering that this included not only the drinks that we chose, but the assorted tapas that we received too, we thought that this was really excellent value for money. This tradition is absolutely legendary, and we'd really recommend checking out La Goma to enjoy plant-based tapas culture at its very best.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Granada is home to some stunning sights!

Where should I stay?

After our trip to Barcelona, we were relieved to discover that accommodation is much more affordable in Andalusia! There is an excellent choice of hotels, hostels, B&Bs, and everything in between in Granada! If you are looking for an inexpensive and social experience, El Granado Hostel is one of the most popular in the city, with frequent events and excellent facilities!

For a more private experience, check out Rooms VITA, which boasts modern and comfortable rooms with en suites, helpful reception staff, a bar on site, and a great location. It's no wonder this place gets such consistently high reviews and ratings!

Tours & Experiences

Granada is all about the Alhambra! So even if you didn't manage to secure your tickets in advance, there are loads of tour companies offering guided and skip-the-line tickets too. You can find some of the most popular Alhambra and Granada tours on the left.

However, there's a lot more to this stunning Andalusian city than just its famous fortress and palaces. Have you been to see a flamenco show yet? This is one of the most highly rated flamenco shows in Granada. With the performance style originating amongst the Gypsy families that have a strong history here, what better place to sample this part of local culture and heritage?

Please note that the tours displayed on the left are automatically selected for their popularity by Viator, not chosen or recommended by us. Please check whether any food or drink based tours are suitable for your dietary requirements, and any animal-based experiences are ethical, before booking!

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