What You Should Know When Visiting Spain: Dining Out Part I

10 Feb

Being that a lot of my family will be visiting this summer for my wedding, I’ve decided to make them a “Welcome to Spain” guide/welcome basket. I’ll include my personal recommendations and advice, some survival Spanish, and maps, history, etc. of some of the places we’ll be visiting together. I figured it could also be useful to other people visiting or living in Spain, so I’ll post everything here, bit by bit.


I would appreciate it if any fellow readers can comment with advice, personal anecdotes, and especially opinions and corrections! I will be making some generalizations, and some things are probably unique to my experiences, Andalucia, and more specifically, Seville. I hope no one is offended by some of the criticism, as I love Spain and wouldn’t be here if I didn’t!

Dining out in Spain is a BIG topic, so tonight I’m only going to focus on the different establishments that exist for eating (and drinking) out in Spain.

In my experience there are basically five main food/drink establishments: bars, restaurants, cafés, pubs, and discos.

1. Bars are NOT like what we would think of in English. They are simply less formal restaurants where you can usually have breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee and a snack, and dinner. Most bars serve tapas (small plates) and sometimes have a fixed price menu at lunchtime. Sometimes a waiter will take your order and other times it’s self-service. They do, however, serve alcohol at all times of day, and it’s not at all strange to see people taking a shot of liquor with their coffee in the morning, nor enjoying a beer before noon!

2. Restaurants are anywhere from a bit more formal than bars to very formal. Depending on the restaurant you may have to make a reservation. Restaurants don’t always serve tapas, although some do. Spanish people like to take their time when they go to a restaurant and it’s not unusual to enjoy a two or three hour meal.

3. A café here is kind of like a mix between their bars and a bakery. The place usually serves a variety of coffee and tea as well as various pastries and small sandwiches or even tapas. Alcohol is also available in most of them. People usually go in the afternoon for their “merienda” around 5:00-6:30 pm.

4. A pub is basically what we would call a bar. They’re usually open in the afternoon and at night for drinks and usually have music. They normally close around 2:00-3:00 am.

5. Finally, there are discotecas (clubs). They usually open around 12:00-1:00 am but people don’t usually go until 3:00 am! They are open until at least 6:00 am, although I think the majority stay open even later. Sometimes they may charge a cover to get in, especially for guys, and it usually includes a drink. You should dress nicely to go to a disco, as most require dress clothes and shoes.

Well, that’s all for tonight, stay tuned for topics such as “Strange Spanish Eating Times” and “Customer Service (or Lack Thereof)”.

Buenas Noches de Sevilla!
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One Response to “What You Should Know When Visiting Spain: Dining Out Part I”

  1. Sarah February 11, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    love it!

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