A bar here in southern Spain is very different from a typical British pub. Although layouts may vary, what you will usually find will be a bar counter, with tall seats around, often with a covered tapas display. This will likely be in two parts, one containing meats and tortillas ready to be heated up and served with your drink, the other with cold tapas and salads. Many bars still serve tapas at an inclusive price with the drink, whilst others serve rather more elaborate nibbles which are charged for individually.
One of the main differences with a British pub will be the size of drink. Normally if you ask for a beer (una cerveza) it will be in a smaller glass, either a “tubo” which is a tall tumbler or in a glass not dissimilar to a large wine glass. The only time you will see anyone with a “pint” glass, they will usually be a tourist on the coast. You will be just as likely to see people at the bar drinking coffee (un café) or a glass of wine (una copa de vino).
Tables away from the bar counter, either inside or outside, are typical café tables with upright chairs, not lounge-type tables and chairs like in British pubs .
There is usually a large display of spirit bottles behind the bar and invariably a leg of Serrano ham on a carving frame. You should try this typical Spanish delicacy - it´s delicious!
Almost everywhere, customers take all their food and drink and only pay when they are ready to leave. In busy big city bars, the tapas, usually more sophisticated, will each come with a small wooden skewer and, when you have finished, the barman will count the skewers and charge accordingly.
I would recommend you to visit as many bars and cafeterías as possible, especially away from the tourist haunts. Look for places full of Spaniards and litter, in the form of till receipts, on the floor signifying that you have found a good spot.
Some bars, especially on the coast, offer more seafood, but try different ones and you will inevitably find a handful that will become part of your regular tapas trail.
Where´s your favourite Spanish bar?
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