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What to eat in Spain - "Menu del dia"

One of the first questions that people who are going to Spain have in their minds is "What are we going to eat in Spain?" And probably the second one is “Are we going to starve??” :)

To be honest, I was a little taken aback when I first went to Spain. Whenever we go to different countries, it is up to chance whether we are satisfied with the food or not, as we do not know exactly what the dishes we try will be like. In an unfamiliar place, if there is no one to guide you, it can be difficult to find a nice place to eat and choose the dishes that suit your taste. It is also difficult because you will taste things that you have never tasted, that you are not accustomed to. I'm a person who likes to try different foods from different cuisines (even foods that most people wouldn't even think about) but even for me it takes some getting used to. That's why I found the food a bit unusual in Spain the first time I traveled. But later on, as I spent more time in Spain, tasted different dishes and started finding good restaurants and bars, I really liked Spanish cuisine. Of course, as a Turkish woman, Turkish cuisine is always number one in my heart, but Spanish cuisine is a close contender.

What is “menu del dia” ?

As we all know, Spain is very famous for its tapas bars (and you must definitely try them!), but if you want to eat bigger portions, and not just tiny tiny tapas, I would prefer restaurants that offer "menu del dia" i.e. menu of the day. It is an option that will not disappoint those who want to have a full stomach, and its price is much more affordable than other restaurants. Moreover, you can find these restaurants all over the country wherever you go, so I believe this information will be of great use to you no matter where you are planning to travel.

Primer plato

So, what is exactly in this "menu del dia"? In these restaurants, there are a number of food options in the menu, and from these options, you choose a primer plato (first course/starters), segundo plato (second course/main dish), bebidas (drinks) and postre (dessert). Depending on the restaurant, what is included in the menu may vary a little. While the starters and the main dish are always included in this menu option, the others (drinks, dessert...) may somewhat change. You may be able to get a free dessert, a bottle of wine, coffee, tea or even a liquor at the end of the meal.

Even though I translated primer plato as "starters" it would be unfair to call it just a "starter." Think of it as more like a "first main dish." It comes in a big portion and is quite filling. Especially in Northern Spain where the portions are huge, you may feel full after having only primer plato.

The menu I chose (below) is from Northern Spain, so there is a lot of seafood on the menu. Seafood is plentiful everywhere in Spain, but the varieties and the way of cooking change according to the region.

What to eat in Spain Menu del dia

Let's take a look at the dishes offered as a starter in the menu I shared here:

- Octopus with potatoes (Patatas con pulpo)

- Asturias style pork and bean stew (Fabada Asturiana) (This stew can also be made with other ingredients)

Fabada Asturiana
Fabada Asturiana

- Spaghetti Bolognese (Espaguetis Boloñesa)

- Mushroom salad (Ensalada templada de setas)

- Mixed paella (Paella mixta) (If paella is a main course, it comes in very large portions, so what is served here as "primer plato" may be smaller. And as a side note, Spaniards never eat paella for dinner. They only eat it for lunch because it is very filling. Restaurants that serve paella for dinner are tourist traps.)

- Russian salad (Ensalada Rusa) (Spaniards make this salad with additional ingredients such as tuna, eggs, roasted red peppers)

Segundo plato

After that, the main dish known as "segundo plato" is chosen. The main dishes on this particular menu are:

- Meat schnitzel with pork and cheese (Cachopo de ternera)


- Steak with Cabrales (blue cheese) (Escalopines al Cabrales) (This cheese is very famous in Spain. If you like cheese with a strong taste, be sure to try Spanish cheeses)

- Chicken breast (Pechuga de pollo)

- Fried cod fish (Fritos de Bacalao) (Spanish people eat this fish a lot in different ways)

- Grilled sea bass (Lubina a la plancha)


Let's move on to the drinks… In this particular restaurant, you can have water (agua) or a bottle of wine (vino de la casa) for free (here you can see how cheap alcohol is in Spain) with your meal. Particularly in Northern Spain, the portions are very large. Both the dishes and wine are served in abundance.


Finally, you can end your meal with a "postre" (a dessert) or coffee. Although the menu of this restaurant offers either dessert or coffee for free, other restaurants may serve both dessert and coffee for free. They haven't written anything on the menu here, but the typical Spanish desserts that are usually served are:

Flan de queso (creme caramel with cheese ̶ my favourite!), natillas (a kind of pudding), arroz con leche (rice pudding), crema catalana (again similar to pudding), tarta de queso (cheesecake), helado (ice cream), fruta de temporada ( seasonal fruits) and pudding.

Spanish rice pudding arroz con leche
Spanish rice pudding: Arroz con leche

The rule at the bottom says do not share the menu. However, if you think that this menu is too much to eat, then you can also get half a menu. While the full menu is €14, half is €9.

“Hasta fin de existencias” means we will serve these dishes until the stocks run out. He who acts fast gets the food :)

As you can see, it is possible not to go hungry in Spain :) You just need to do some research and learn vocabulary beforehand. Generally, there are red meat, chicken and vegetarian options on the menus. There is something for everyone.

By the way, in Spain, the tip is not included in the bill as in the USA, and you are not expected to tip 10-20%. You can usually leave a tip of up to 1 euro.

That's all! After all this food, don't forget to take a nice long walk :)

• If you want to watch the "menu del dia" restaurants we visited in Spain and more food options, you can find our Spain vlogs here.

¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!


ispanya profil yeni.jpg


We are a Spanish & Turkish couple who is currently based in Turkey, but we call Spain our second home. We met in 2013, and since then, I have had the chance to travel to numerous destinations in Spain, enjoy the wonderful cuisine and experience the culture with my dear husband. In 2020, ...

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