We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising (such as Google Advertising Services) and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services.
Pick Up:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Eating and Drinking in Spain like a Local

Spain is attracting visitors for many different reasons - excellent weather, varied scenery, cultural heritage and exciting activities. But whatever might be the reason that brings you to Spain you are bound to have one more to come back - and that is a delicious cuisine. Not only the dishes themselves are tasty but the process itself of eating out is something that is an excitement in itself. With something to fit every taste and budget there is something for everyone. In this article we will not go into details about the specific dishes one can order - the cuisine is so varied one can write books on this subject (and we're sure many did). Instead, we will talk about what types of cafes and dishes exist and how to order those in a “local” way.


Tapas is well known around the world as a traditional Spanish way of eating out. But in fact that’s not how it started. “Tapar” literally means “to cover”. When ordering a drink in a bar one would be given a small snack - a “tapa” - which would be a bite-sized portion of food.

Back in the times it was perhaps free, but one would be hard-pressed to find a free tapas now. A notable exception is Galicia - an area in the north-west of Spain - where it’s still customary to be offered a free snack with every drink one orders. It can be something as simple as a few slices of ham - or as sophisticated as octopus, olives and jamon. One has to be careful though if the waiter brings something to your table that you haven’t ordered - such as olives or other condiments. Particularly in touristy areas those might not be free at all and some unscrupulous restaurants can even charge inflated prices for those. In the touristy places it's definitely worth asking whether it's free (es gratis?) and then you can decide if you want the item or not.

These days tapas usually means a small plate with a snack - anything from champignons to jamon to cheese to whatever one can possibly imagine - costing around 1.50-2.00 EUR each. When going out with friends people might order varied tapas and share those with the friends, each taking a small bite from an already small portion. This is something you should do too! This gives you a way to taste a variety of various dishes without getting full or paying too much for each of those.

Tapas can be hot or cold and either ordered from the menu (sometimes scribed on a blackboard nearly impossible to read) or be available at the counter so one can just point to the item they like. 

A few variations of tapas are pintxos (a piece of bread with some tapas topping, like slices of ham or a salad) and also raciones. Raciones aren’t actually tapas but are portions of food, but can appear in the same menu. Or when ordering the waiter might ask - “tapa o racion”? Meaning whether you want just a snack bite or a full portion. There can also be “½ racion” or “medio-racion” - which is, well, half of the racion - smaller than the full portion, but bigger than the tapas.

Menu del dia

A great way to eat economically is the “menu del dia”, or a set menu, offering a selection of the starter (“primero”), main course (“segundo”), some bread, a drink and a dessert or a coffee. It is believed the menu del dia was invented during the Franco times to ensure everyone can have an affordable meal out. And affordable it is! Depending on the area, the price of the whole set menu can be anywhere from 7 EUR to over 20 EUR (naturally, the prices are higher in the touristy places) with the average is probably 9-10 EUR in not very touristy places. In some places, half-menu is available (½ menu or medio-menu) at a discounted price and that usually includes the starter OR the main course and the bread, drink and dessert. Note that the menu del dia on the weekends can be substantially more expensive than on the weekdays (at times, twice more expensive).

One thing that is very confusing to almost all foreign visitors is that the word “menu”, which most of us associate with a list of items available to eat and the prices, in Spanish refers exclusively to menu del dia. The Spanish word for the menu (as in a list of prices) is “La Carta”. As such, if you ask the waiter for “the menu”, they will almost certainly assume you’re talking about a set menu unless the restaurant is catering exclusively to foreigners.

Language barriers aside, the menu del dia almost always provides an outstanding value for money and is much cheaper than ordering separate items “a la carte”. With a selection of at least few items both for the starter and the main, one can have a delicious and filling meal economically.

Of course one can have a traditional dining experience and order a la carte. There are thousands of excellent restaurants in Andalucia and the rest of Spain, either providing a mixture of the local foods or specialising in certain areas in particular. Along the coastal beach areas there are many chiringuitos, the restaurants right on the beach, usually specialising in fish and seafood. The prices vary enormously and especially for the items sold by weight (such as fish) one should always ask for an estimate to avoid unpleasant surprises. Checking the reviews of the restaurant beforehand wouldn’t harm either.


Spain has the usual selection of soft drinks, as well as good coffee and of course an abundance of beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks.

When it comes to coffee, one would need to specify the type of coffee they want. A simple espresso would be “cafe solo” whereas if one wants a coffee with milk that would be “cafe con leche”. The other popular variation is “cafe cortado”, which is an espresso with a bit of a milk foam. The other international variations, such as latte or cappuccino, do exist but aren’t nearly as popular - especially in local places. At the heat of the summer a refreshing drink to order is “cafe con hielo”, which is literally coffee with ice. 

When it comes to beers in Spain it’s almost universally lager beers, even though dark beers can be found and there are even some craft beers - but those aren’t that popular unless its a specialised beer place. The “default” serving of the draft beer (cerveza de barril) is caña (pronounced “kanya”) which is a small 0.2l glass. The weather in Spain can be hot so ordering smaller measures of ice-cold beer more frequently rather than a large glass at once makes more sense. If one wants a bigger portion then you can ask for “doble”, “jarra” or “pinta”. It seems that every restaurant or bar has their own interpretation of the size of those measures, but it’ll most likely be somewhere between 0.33l to 0.5l glass. The pint will almost certainly be smaller than the British pint unless it’s an English or an Irish pub. When it comes to price, caña should cost around 1.30-1.70 EUR and the larger beer around 2.50-3 EUR - there are, however, some places where it can be had much cheaper. Though the prices may vary from place to place and will be higher in more touristy restaurants and places.

Of course one can also order a bottle of beer (botella, pronounced “boteya”) which is almost certainly a 0.33l bottle - though 0.25l and 0.5l exist too. There are various national and local brands of beer available and while some will swear by one brand over the other, in our humble opinion, they all taste more or less the same. It’s a lager.

If beer is not your thing then maybe wine could be - and that’s where Spain truly excels! With an ample choice of red wine (vino tinto), white vine (vino blanco), rose (vino rosado) and sparkling wine (usually referred to as cava) one is always spoiled for choice. Going into the details of every variety will require an article in itself, but it’s enough to say that the taste is usually great and the price is usually cheap. One can also go for house wine (vino de la casa) which is normally served in a carafe of 0.25l, 0.5l or 1l. 

There is also a variety of wine-based drinks. The world-famous is sangria, which is a (usually) red wine with some water and fruits. While it’s often associated with Spain you won’t actually see many Spanish people drinking it. Way more common is tinto de verano, or simply tinto, which is basically a carbonated version of sangria. Extremely refreshing on a hot summer day!

And of course Spain has an abundance of harder drinks, ranging from fortified wines such as Jerez and Vermouth to the usual international fare of liquors and spirits.

Meal times

Before we finish the article it’s important to note the times at which one can enjoy all the delicious things that we’ve talked about. Breakfast can be had from around 8 to 11 - but in Spain breakfast isn’t a substantial meal. Most often it consists of a pastry and a coffee, or churros (fried dough) and hot chocolate.

Lunch hours can be from 11 until 14 and it’s common to have a menu del dia for lunch, even though a la carte dining is also usually available.

What catches out most visitors is the dinner. While other countries may be accustomed to eating dinner around 6-7pm, Spanish people have their dinner really late. In more local areas it might be impossible to have dinner before 9pm - and if you’re planning to eat out with your Spanish friends the dinner can run well into the midnight and beyond. So maybe get a full menu del dia for lunch to keep you going until the late evening dinner!

Our Motorcycles for Rent in malaga


An excellent All Rounder Touring Motorcycle! Comfortable and relaxed posture, easy and controlled cornering make it fun to ride for short and long trips! Equipped with ample luggage capacity!


An exciting Sport Touring Motorcycle! Comfortable for long distance trips and lively for some twisty roads fun! Touring screen, heated grips and ample luggage capacity and power for traveling with a pillion.

Early Bird Special Offer
Book 30+ days in advance
Get 10% off total price
Instant discount for rentals of 3 days or longer with a start date 30 days or more from today.

Suggested Itineraries

The Gems of Andalucia: An Ultimate 8 days Motorcycle Itinerary

Duration: 9 days/8 nights (7 riding days)

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks or access roads to accommodation).

The Coast, The Desert and the Mountains: 7-9 days motorbike itinerary

Duration: 7-9 days, depending on visits to Granada and Cartagena

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks).

Magical Ronda: Motorcycle Day Trip from Malaga

Duration: 1 day trip from Malaga

Start/End points: Malaga/Malaga

Average riding time per day: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Twisty roads, but with mostly good road conditions. 99% on roads (can be occasional gravel stretches due to roadworks).

Gibraltar Sidetrip

The information about Gibraltar trip is coming soon... Stay tuned!
Andalus Moto Team
Typically replies in a few hours
Andalus Moto
Hi there
How can i help you today?
Start Whatsapp Chat