Eat like a local in Barcelona (Menú del Día)


How to eat like a local in Barcelona.

As we explained to you at the blog post ” Tapas, do you really know what tapas means? ” we are not all day eating tapas. Tapas are just an informal way of having some drinks and some food with friends. The main meal of the day in Spain is lunch.

Let us explain to you first how our meal schedules work.

  • Lunch and dinner schedules:

    • Restaurants are filled with locals between 2 and 3 pm for lunch and empty before 9 pm for dinner.

    • Why are these meals so late? The answer is easy, it is because of the Spanish working schedules. Most of the companies are open until 8 pm, and workers have a long pause for lunch, we call it “Split shift.” Many will work from 8,30 to 13.30 and from 4 to 8 pm, 8 hours a day with a 3 hours break. As you can imagine, this system is heavily criticized, especially by people with children and family responsibilities. In conclusion, these schedules are the reason that in Spain, lunch is the main meal and dinner is so late.

    • Few are the people that have time to go home for lunch and return to the office. For this reason, many workers choose to eat a Menu in a restaurant close to their job. It is quite usual that in many neighborhoods where there are many offices, you find many bars and restaurants offering the “Menu del día.” that´s Menu of the day.

“Menu del día” or lunch menu.

A very interesting option for price and quality, it usually costs around 10-12 euros per person, the perfect option if you want to try homemade dishes and local cuisine. It´s offered in almost all bars and restaurants at lunchtime, which starts around 1 PM.

The menu includes a starter or “primero” usually soup, or salad or pasta, a main course or “segundo“, meat or fish options with garniture, a bit more elaborated dishes, and dessert too. Drink and bread are also included. Note that each dish and dessert you can choose it from a minimum of 3 different options, so you’ll have always an option that you’ll like, usually, the dilemma is which one to choose because they are all tasty.

The courses of the Menu change every day, and we’ll you a secret: Thursdays is the day of the Paella!

Dinner time:

If lunch is from 1 to 3 pm Dinner then it will be quite late you might think. Yes, you are right, we have dinner around 9 pm or later.

Friday and Saturday are the days for the Spaniards to enjoy a beautiful night out. During the week we might just have some light tapas and a drink after work, and on the weekend we get together with friends a family to have a nice diner.

Just remember that Paella is a lunch meal, not a dinner one, especially if you’ll be eating late.

While seeing if a restaurant is full or empty helps the visitor to recognize if it has a reputation, if you perform a tour with us we will be happy to give you some tips of places so that you can enjoy our cuisine without having to spend too much.

Take a look at our  GOURMET TOUR and TAPAS TOUR 

The Chef José Andrés gives you here his best recommendations for a whole day eating in Barcelona.