Food & Drink in Spain

Check out the Go Madrid Spanish food dictionary here.

The best food from all around the country arrives in Madrid every day - fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, fish and shellfish. This means that the restaurants and markets have access to the freshest and most varied produce. The food here, therefore, can be of the best quality in Spain.

What the tourist should bear in mind more than anything are the eating hours in Spain. Lunch and the evening meal start much later than in many other countries.

The Spaniards tend to start the day with a light breakfast. However, don't be surprised if you're here on business and your fellow Spanish workers exit the office en masse around 10.30-11.00h. They will be popping round to the nearest café or bar for a quick cup of coffee and croissant or cake.

Lunch never starts before 13.30h and can be as late as 15.00 or 15.30h. An excellent way of enjoying good, cheap Spanish food at lunch time is to sit down for a "menú del día". This is a fixed price menu offering several choices of first and second courses with a drink, bread and desert or coffee included for around 7 or 8 euros.

Restaurant waiters will often just assume you want to eat "a la carta" offering you the more expensive menu options, so make sure you always ask the question "¿Hay menú?" (is there a fixed menu?). At the weekend the fixed menu will be more expensive, but usually includes larger or more elaborate dishes.

Dinner in Spain starts any time after 20.00h, and many restaurants will not open until 21.00h. In the summer, some families will not sit down for their evening meal until as late as 23.00h - so be prepared to wait! If you've had a good menú del día at mid-day, why not follow the Spanish tradition and go for a paseo or evening stroll, visiting the occasional bar and sampling some excellent Spanish wine with tapas instead of a formal dinner?

Please use the links to the left to find out all you need to know for your visit to Madrid.