Barcelona Tourist and Expat Guide – I'mMovingToBarcelona



The Spaniards are pretty strict about their daily meal routine. This is something a foreigner needs to fit into, especially if one doesn’t want to starve. It’s like similar to a train schedule, if you miss one, you’ll need to wait for the following. And sometimes the waiting might be pretty long.

The Spanish meals go more or less like this:

EL DESAYUNO – breakfast

Spanish Breakfast

Spanish Breakfast

10:00 am – usually right after getting to work

Something small. Usually a coffee and a toast with the famous smashed tomato, a sandwich or some pastry like a croissant, etc.

LA COMIDA – lunch

Paella, Taverna Gallega, Barcelona

Paella at La Taverna Gallega, Barcelona

2:00 pm – mandatory every day even on the weekends

Usually made up of 3 courses. A salad for a starter, meat or fish for the main dish and some dessert, a piece of pie, a fruit or a yoghurt.
Usually between 2:00 and 4:00 pm all lunch places are packed with people. You will probably need to make a reservation in some better places. It also means that after 4:00 pm there’s hardly a place open for food, good food at least. So, if you don’t get to eat until then, you will need to wait for the restaurants to re-open at night, usually at 8-8:30 pm.

LA MERIENDA – an afternoon snack

merienda, an afternoon snack

Shopping for la merienda, an afternoon snack in Spain

5:00 – 6:00 pm – fits somewhere in the gap between lunch and dinner

A simple snack often consists of a piece of fruit, cookies, yoghurt, etc.

LA CENA – the famous Spanish late supper

Italian Pizza, Madre Lievito, Barcelona

Italian Pizza, Madre Lievito, Barcelona

9:00 – 10:00 pm – never before 8 pm, most of the time around 9:30 pm

This is usually a full meal, just like lunch. May consist of different courses, especially if you eat it in a restaurant or with some friends. This is probably one of the things people from abroad have the most difficulty getting used to. Our whole lives we’ve been told not to eat at night and here we are starting our 3-course meal at 9:30 pm.

Brunch! And what about brunch?

Eggs Benedict, Brunch at Milk, Barcelona

Eggs Benedict, Brunch at Milk, Barcelona

Keeping all this in mind I was asking myself how brunch fits into this carefully planned schedule. And I came to a conclusion that it probably doesn’t fit at all. You’d eat your brunch at 11:00 – 1:00 pm or later and the Spaniard just have to have their 2:00 pm lunch. If I go for a brunch around noon, I usually see foreigners around me. If I eat brunch at my place on the weekend, soon afterwards I hear the typical rumbling of my neighbours preparing their lunch at 2 pm sharp.

Recently, I’ve bought a microwave egg boiler as a house warming gift for some Catalan friends. Then I stopped to wonder – and what if they never have eggs for their breakfast? So, I asked and was told me they would eat eggs but for lunch or dinner. Breakfast is too small of a meal to fit in a soft-boiled egg.

We’re curious what is your experience in this matter: did you manage to blend in and get used to Spanish meal routine? Or do you still keep your own schedule, maybe with some slight changes?

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  • And why, I wonder, should we have to fit brunch in? To keep foreigners unable to break their routines happy? Not going to happen! If you really can’t fit in with our routine, there are myriad bars that have a very extensive offering of “tapes” to satisfy your hunger and the most jaded of tastes.

    • Hi Puigdomènech,
      I think you have a great routine there, it’s just difficult for people who are not used to it to switch to it quickly and embrace it as a native. Fortunately, there are still those places you mention where we can go when caught hungry in the middle of the day.

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