Everyone knows that Spanish people eat late, but at what exact time are meals eaten in Spain? This is something you really need to learn before visiting the country because if you pretend to eat at the same time you do at home, you won´t find any good place to do it.
Don´t worry because today we are going to tell you which are the best times to eat in Spain, and of course, we will also give you some tips to adapt to the crazy Spanish eating schedule.
Spanish breakfast time (Desayuno): 07:00 to 09:00
The breakfasts in Spain are not the same to everyone, depending on who you ask you will find people who have a very light breakfast (Only a cup of coffee with milk) and others that have a heavy one with their pan tumaca, their croissants or “Maria cookies” and sometimes some fruit.
The normal breakfast time in Spain is between 7 A.m. (You won´t find any open restaurant before that time) and 9 A.m., but during weekends or summer months some people have it at 10 A.m. or even later.
Generally Spanish people have their breakfast at home, but some workers like to go to a bar to have their coffee before starting the day.
Spanish “Almuerzo”/ Mid-morning snack: 10:30 to 12:00
Start realizing that Spanish people expend their whole day eating. The Spanish mid-morning snack or also known as “Almuerzo” or “media mañana” is a simple snack made for those who have a very light breakfast and are starving at 11:00 A.m.
This snack is a must for kids when they are at their playtime, their parents normally prepare a sandwich or a fruit to eat it at the school. People who start working very early in the morning also take advantage of the “Almuerzo time”.
Spanish bars and restaurants generally have special offers during the mid-morning snack. For example, you can find a coffee and a “Pincho of Spanish omelet” for just 3-4€.
“Aperitivo” time: 13:30 to 14:00
An “Aperitivo” is like the tapas but instead of before diner, in this case is before lunch. It´s not as common as the rest of the typical Spanish mealtimes, but many people do have it when they are on vacations or they are spending time with family and friends.
It basically consists of putting together plates like mussels, potato chips, olives, ham…at around 13:30 and after eating it, people would normally order just one big dish like a paella or a fideua.
Oh, another thing you should know about the Spanish Aperitivo is that many people like to have it with a drink like a Vermouth or a Martini.
When is lunch time in Spain? 14:00 to 15:30
“La comida” or the lunch is by far the most important meal of the day in Spain. It is generally divided in three different dishes: A first meal, a second one and then the dessert, plus, it is of course always accompanied with drinks (they really enjoy a cold beer).
Spaniards love to take their time during lunch time, they start eating between 14:00 and 15:30 and they could easily spend two hours before finishing. Don´t be surprised if you end up eating at 17:00 P.m.
Dishes like Gazpacho, paella, cocido madrileño or fabada are very typical during lunch. As you can imagine after having those heavy plates, they need a good siesta.
Spanish “merienda” time 16:30 to 18:30
The merienda is another snack, but in this case is mostly typical for kids. Adults don´t have it so much. It occurs right after school when they are tired from the classes and they need some energy for the rest of the day.
This time of the day is perfect to have something sweet, it could be a glass of milk with cookies or any other kind of pastry. Other people prefer to have a “Bocadillo de chorizo” or any other cured meat.
People normally have “Merienda” between 16:30 and 18:30, that way they won´t interrupt the dinner.
What time to eat tapas in Spain? 20:30 to 22:30
This is probably the moment you all were waiting for…” Tapas hours”. As you know tapas are one of the most representative things in Spain and we know you are very excited about it, but don´t rush and listen carefully.
Good bars and restaurant won´t open until 20:00 or 20:30 so if you decide to eat earlier, you will not be able to enjoy the best places. What we are trying to say here is that although you may not be used to eat so late…Waiting is worth it!
When you go to get some tapas, you can either spend the whole night going to different bars while trying each one of the Spanish dishes, or you can just have one or two tapas and enjoy a normal dinner after that.
Why do Spanish eat so late at night? Dinner time after 21:00
To finish talking about the typical mealtimes in Spain we need to mention the dinner or “La Cena” as it´s the strangest one for most of the people.
The truth about why the Spanish dinner is so late, is because the time zone in Spain is wrong as it was changed during World War II. Other than that, Spaniards love to fulfill their stomach before partying and eating late is a very good way to do it.
The Spanish Dinner time goes from 21:00 to 23:00, but in summer it could even go farther than 24:00 P.m. Another thing you should know is that dinners are very different when are cooked at home (A very light dinner) than when are in a restaurant (Plates shared with family or friends)
Hope you learned about the traditional Spanish mealtimes
That´s all you need to know about the mealtimes and food culture in Spain. As you have seen Spanish people have a very weird eating schedule and they are eating all the time.
Learning the different times to eat in Spain will help you a lot if you ever visit the country! We hope you enjoyed reading it and if you have any other question…Let us know!