Eating habits in Spain

At times, Spanish eating habits may seem strange to tourists. It certainly takes some getting used to! But then, remember, getting to know how and when Gaditanos eat is one way of getting to know them.

spanish mealBreakfast (El Desayuno)

  • Breakfasts are light and late affairs. It usually starts at around 8:30 a.m. but never past 10:00.
  • This consists of a light meal – a sandwich, bocadillo (bread roll) or tosta (tapas served on a slice of toast) and a cup of coffee.
  • Churros are also a popular breakfast option. Deep-fried crisp, churros are served with thick hot chocolate. You dip the pastry into the chocolate and mmmm... what a treat!

Coffee Break (Café)

  • After such a light breakfast, you are bound to get hungry. Go with the flow and follow the Gaditanos as they make their way to nearby cafes.
  • Coffee time is usually anytime between 10:30 am and 12:00 noon.
  • Expect to find cafés a bit crowded at this time with students office workers taking a break.
  • Remember, coffee in Cadiz is stronger than what you may expect. If you do not want it quite as strong, order a café americano, which is a shot of expresso with generous amounts of water.

Lunch (La Comida)

  • This is undoubtedly the main meal of the day and takes place anywhere from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Take your time, as the Gaditanos are also wont to do. In fact, shopkeepers often close down for a few hours as they enjoy this meal at home. After the meal, they may even cozy down after eating to take a quick siesta (midafternoon nap). Now, that is the life!
  • You may also choose the menú del día, which is a two to three course meal with a drink and dessert included. The menú del día usually ranges from €7.00 to €15.00.
  • Be prepared to get some rest yourself. You may discover that some stores and establishments (museums, galleries, etc.) close during siesta time.

Afternoon Snack (La Merienda)

  • Dinner is eaten late in the evening, so you may want to keep your energy up with a snack to tide you over until the next meal.
  • The snack is similar to breakfast and often consists of a sandwich, a pastry or just a drink.

Dinner Time (La Cena)

  • Don’t expect to eat dinner at 7:00 p.m. Restaurants only begin to open up their doors around 8:00 in the evening. Dinner is normally eaten around 9:00 p.m. During the summer and on weekends, however, people may sit down to dinner as late as midnight!
  • This meal is general a bit lighter than the mid-day meal.
  • A popular la cena option is the tapas, tidbits of food served on a saucer. These are usually eaten standing up, with some drinks on hand. It is more of a social custom; you get to fill your stomach while you chat with old friends or as you make new ones.