Spanish Menú del día - Eat like a local
Spanish cuisine is wonderful, with a vast selection of food available, why not eat cheaply, like a local, and try a few Menú del día, whilst you are here.
What exactly is a menu del dia? In Spain, the menu del dia or menu of the day is offered at restaurants traditionally during the midday meal (la comida) - these special menus are the most economical way to eat in Spain. This generously-sized meal is offered for a set price. For the Spanish this is typically the largest meal of the day.
Most restaurants who offer a menú del día will have it written outside on a chalkboard, if not, ask the waiters for a printed copy of today's menu del dia.
If you see a menu del dia chalked onto a board it is more likely to be made with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, and be changed on a daily basis.
If a restaurant does not have its menu del dia listed, it may still be offered just ask a member of staff if they have the menu of the day available by asking, “¿Hay un menu del dia”
The menu del dia is divided into three or four sections, depending upon the venue and the price, every category will have a few options and you will be expected to choose one for each.
Bread (pan) if included will generally be served when you are seated or with your salad/soup.
Entrante - This would be a starter or an appetiser, usually salads and soups.
Primer plato - First course, usually, rice, pasta, egg or vegetable dishes, soups and salads - if the above is not available. you will normally have a choice between three or four dishes.
Segundo plato - The second course. As a rule, most Spanish restaurants offer a choice of fish or meat dishes, served with a few seasonal vegetables and chips, depending on the restaurant, you can also find vegetarian and vegan options, but it is not usually the case. This is considered the heaviest course of the meal. .
Postre - The dessert, most will offer three or four choices, such as flan, cheesecake, ice cream or fresh fruit, this can be swapped for a coffee (if not included in the set price).
A glass of water, small beer, wine or soft drink is normally included (Bebida).
What portion sizes can I expect? El Primer plato -Soups and salads will be a good size as will the Segundo plato. The main course generally is not as big as you will be expecting, certainly not as large as the portions offered on the normal menu, it is normally the same sort of size as the 1st starter, but by this time you will normally be fairly full anyway.
What times are they available - The menu del dia is traditionally offered for, lunch (comida) and you will see it offered from around 1:30 to 4:30.
If you don't fancy trying the menu del dia then la carta (full menu, la carta also means printed menu) is always available and you will be able to choose between all the dishes and beverages the restaurant has to offer.
In some heavily tourist towns/cities you will also find menu del dia available early evenings, and of course its not only Spanish restaurants that offer a menu of the day.
Did you know? - The menu del dia was required for many restaurants in Spain by a law enacted in 1965. The law set standards and pricing for the midday meal to benefit tourism. While initially targeting tourist areas, it became popular throughout Spain by the early 1970s. It also provided a good meal at a reasonable price for workers who did not have the time go home for their midday meal.
Where is your favourite place to go for a Menú del día? Comment below.