Generally speaking, Spaniards have 5 meals during the day: breakfast early in the morning, second breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2 or 2.30pm, a break during the afternoon (6.30pm) and dinner at 9pm. The big meal is normally lunch, and it consist of a first plate, a second plate and a dessert. While traveling to Spain, you’ll find restaurants offering the “menu del dia” (menu of the day). Keep reading and find out what menu of the day means.
El menu del dia (The menu of the day)
Since few years ago, Spain has been hit by a massive financial crisis, that Spaniards are trying to save money and not spend too much. But if we think on what was happening before the crisis, during good times, many of them used to have lunch in restaurants from Monday to Friday. In Spain, office timetables are a bit crazy. People go to work from 9am to 7pm. And they have an hour and a half for having their lunch. To get more loyal clients, so many years ago, restaurants started offering what was called ‘el menu del dia’ (the menu of the day), which consisted in a short menu for a very reasonable price. Like this, workers had the opportunity to leave the office during one hour an a half and have a good priced meal to recover some energy before going back to work.
This is how the menu of the day was born, and now it is an extended habit in most of the Spanish restaurants, to offer the menu of the day from Monday to Friday, for lunch only.
What will I get if I ask for ‘el menú del día’
Now, remember what you call in English ‘menu’ in Spain you should ask for ‘la carta’ (por favor :-)). And, generally speaking, when Spaniards ask the waiter ‘what’s in the menu?’ they are referring to ‘the menu of the day’.
The menu of the day normally consists on the following plates:
1st plate of the menu of the day
you’ll be able to choose between 3 plates
2nd plate of the menu of the day
you’ll be able to choose between other different 3 plates
choose between yogurt, a piece of fruit, pudding or a piece of cake.
Glass of water, wine or beer (caña) are included. As well as some bread.
How much the menu of the day will cost?
Normally, the price of the ‘menu del dia’ should be between 8 and 14 Euros (IVA included. IVA means taxes). Tips are not included in this price.
Actually, having a menu of the day in a nice restaurant, could be a good option to have a standard meal for a nice price and without having to eat in a McDonald’s.
However, pay attention to which restaurant are you planning to have your meal. There are lots and lots and numerous bars, cafes and restaurants in every street in every city in Spain. Be aware, that most of them offer low quality food. My advice would be to follow the next rule: is there’s people inside having their meal, go ahead and have your lunch there too. And if those people are locals, then for sure the meal should be nice and you’ll get a good relation quality-price meal. On the contrary, if the restaurant is empty… start walking in the opposite direction! 🙂
At what time restaurants are opened for lunch in Spain?
Spaniards have lunch quite late, comparing to other European countries. Remember lunch is usually served from 1pm to 3pm.