Spanish Meals & Customs

MealEating is so ingrained in Spain’s culture that to get to know their eating habits is getting to know their culture. If you haven’t visited Malaga or any other Spanish destination, you will quickly find out that Spain’s eating habits are quite different from any other place in Europe- and the world!. It’s probably because eating hours are more loosely defined and restaurants are open for much longer. Here are the details that will help you understand Spanish meals and customs.

CoffeEl Desayuno (Breakfast)
- Forget big, hearty meals at breakfast. Breakfast in Spain is more like a nibble and less of a meal.
- El Desayuno for the Spaniard is usually just coffee or “café con leche,” usually with just a crossaint or some toast
- You may also try "churros," deep-fried fritters which are quite scrumptious. These are sprinkled with a little sugar or dunked in cup of thick hot chocolate.
- El Desayuno is usually before 10 in the morning

El Cafe (Coffee Breaks)
- Coffee is very much part of the Spanish culture. At anytime between 10:30 and noon, office workers will step out for a cup of coffee.
- Here are some typical coffee choices:

  • Café solo: Espresso
  • Café cortado: Espresso with a bit of milk
  • Café con leche: Espresso with a lot more milk
  • Café Americano: A watered down version, since some find Spanish coffee too strong

LunchLa Comida (Lunch)
- La comida is an important meal for the Spanish and is served at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The size of the meal constitutes what Americans would consider dinner.
- It is traditionally a three course meal.
- Great deals can be had during this time when restaurants offer their 'menús del día'

La Merienda (Tea Time)
- La Merienda is essentially a late afternoon snack to hold you over until dinner
- Usually composed of a coffee and a snack- usually a pastry
- The Spanish usually have a light afternoon snack between 5 and 7 p.m.

La Cena (Dinner)
- La cena is usually a lighter meal. Make sure you have something fairly substantial before this because la cena does not come along until late in the evening.
- For some Malagueños, la cena serves as “tapeo” time. Tapas are small portions of different kinds of food and therefore a great way to try a variety of local food. The choices are varied and may cost as little as 6 euros for a heaping platter. Tapas are usually eaten standing up alongside the bar. It is a great way to socialize, enjoy a drink and munch on some light snacks while talking with new-found friends.
- This meal is eaten starting from 9 o’clock p.m. and may continue until midnight. Some restaurants close between 10:30 to 11:00, but there is no fixed rule.