Spanish Meals

Upon your arrival in any Spanish city you'll soon realize three things about people here: 1. they are extremely social  2. they are fiercely proud of their food  3. they love to eat.  Naturally, as a result, Spanish meals are something of a ritual to be cherished, and more often than not, celebrated too.  Much like the people here, hours for eating are quite relaxed. However, it should be known that they do have quite a special schedule that is definitley all their own.  Special as it may be, it is anything but limited. And you'll be happy to know that the Spanish diet is full of scrumptious meals and snacks that will keep you going all day and into the night too.  Here's a rundown of the details that will help you on your way to understanding the basics of Spanish meals and customs.

El Desayuno (Breakfast)

  • Bacon and eggs for breakfast are basically out of the question here.  Most Spanish people like to start of their day with something light, if they have anything at all.
  • You can "desayunar", or have breakfast, anytime between 8:30 and 10:00.
  • It usually consists of some sort of pastry, such as a croissant, some toast or biscuits.
  • If you're up for the sweet option in the morning you might want to try "churros con chocolate".  Churros are deep fried fritters (kind of like long skinny doughnouts) that may be sprinkled with sugar or dipped into a cup of insanely thick hot choclate. 

Almuerzo/ El Cafe (coffee break)

  • Spaniards love their coffee almost as much as they love their food, and from about 10:30 to noon you'll witness hoardes of workers and students flooding into local bars for their fix. 
  • Some people use this time to grab a small snack as well; again, something light like a pastry or a small piece "racion" of Spanish omelette (Tortilla)
  • Typical coffee choices are:
    • Café Solo: a single shot of espresso
    • Cortado: a shot of espresso with a bit of milk
    • Café con leché: Espresso, but with more steamed milk (kind of like a latté)
    • Americano: a shot of espresso with lots of water (a good choice if you find the coffee strong)

El Vermut

  • In some parts of Spain, and in Zaragoza, you may find people at bars just before lunch having what could be considered an appetiser of sorts.
  • Usually around 1:00 pm or so.
  • Having a white Martini is common here, as is a glass of wine or a small beer. This early afternoon beverage is generally accompanied by yet another little snack. like a few mussels, berberechos (cockle in English) or some other kind of tapa.

La Comida (Lunch)

  • This is the main Spanish meal. It takes place rather late in the day, so don't hold back and fill yourself up with the wide variety of foods that are available at this time.
  • Usually takes place between 2:00 and 4:00
  • Many restaurants and bars offer their "menus del dia" or menus of the day, at this time. Usually you'll see a menu posted outside which lists your choices for this 3 course meal.
  • Costs range from about 7€ to 15€
  • It is tradition to take your time at this meal and only makes sense, as you'll find that the famous "siesta" does indeed exist.  Many shops and businesses close down during these hours and may not re-open until 4:30 or 5:00.

La Merienda (Tea time/ afternoon snack)

  • Taking place between 5:00 and 7:00, this usually constitutes some kind of snack to keep you going until dinner, which is eaten quite late in Spain.
  • Could be a coffee, a drink and/or a small sandwhich (bocata), a tapa, or a pastry.

La Cena (Dinner)

  • Dinner in Spain is typically much lighter than lunch, and takes place rather late in the evening.
  • Usually happens between 9:00 and 10:30.  Although sometimes may be as late as 11:00 or 12:00.
  • Some people may only have a simple salad or sandwhich, while others often use this time to head out for some of Zaragoza's famous tapas. Check out our page on tapas to find out about tapas in Zaragoza