6. Breakfast in Spain is usually a small meal. While many hotels will have a full breakfast available on par with other European countries, the locals typically eat a light breakfast to start their day (or to finish of their night, as the case may be for those who spent their night at a disco).
5. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Spain. Lunch in Spain is typically at around 2 pm. Most stores shut down during this period of the day, and workers traditionally would go home for lunch and a siesta. For those who are used to eating lunch at around noon, you likely will have some trouble finding places to do so outside of the big cities. When in Spain, it’s best to stick to the local schedule as the Spanish themselves are quite aligned to it.
4. When eating Lunch in a restaurant, consider the menu del dia. This is a three course meal that includes a first plate, a second plate and a dessert. Almost always this will include a bottle of water or wine. The price is usually between 8 and 15 euros per person. Restaurants will typically have their menu del dia written on a sign just outside the entrance to their restaurant.
3. Spaniards eat dinner late, typically at around 10 pm. Dinner is the second most important meal of the day. While tapas are available for lunch, I find that night is the best time for tapas. Tapas, for those who don’t know, are small plates of food. While trendy hot spots in other countries are now using this word, Spain is where you can get the real deal. It’s traditional to first order a drink in a tapas bar, and then order the food along with it. In some cities you only pay for the drink, and the tapa will be included with the drink (Granada, Salamanca and a few other places). If you don’t wish to drink alcohol you can order a soda or a bottled water. The best thing about tapa bars is that you can sample many different types of food, and it’s all in front of you in glass cases so you can point without having to even know what it is and within seconds you will be eating. Most Spanish cities have a street or a neighborhood that is well known for tapas – seek these places out!
2. Paella is delicious and is best savored in Valencia. However good paella can surely be found in many cities throughout Spain…but do me one favor. If a restaurant has a cardboard cutout with a picture of paella RUN. Those places probably do not make it from scratch, rather they microwave it and serve it to you. You will often find these places near popular tourist spots. Eating away from tourist spots is a good idea in most countries, Spain included.
1. Tortilla de Patatas…it’s a potato omelet (sometimes translated as a Spanish Omelet). This could be considered a national dish (often served as a tapa). The ingredients are very simple: potatoes, eggs, olive oil, salt and sometimes onions. It may not be the most exciting dish in the world, but it’s the first thing I eat when I arrive in Spain. Try it.
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