Spain’s most popular lunchtime deal — the menú del día — was invented for the convenience of tourists. Ironically, most tourists are not aware it exists.
When visiting Spain you’ll save yourself a ton of money, and discover some wonderful food offerings, if you adopt the local custom of eating your main meal of the day between 2pm and 4pm and opt for the menú del día.
Opting for a menú del día will relieve you of the stress of:
a) not knowing what the final bill (check) will be before you sit down;
b) wading through a seemingly endless menu of dishes you may not be familiar with;
c) choosing a wine to accompany your meal.
Another good reason to try a menú del día is that you’ll encounter and rub shoulders with natives, as opposed to other visitors. Rafa Peña, the very highly regarded chef at Gresca, says,
“In the evening 70% of our diners are foreigners, at lunchtime almost 90% are Barcelonins.”
On a good day, nothing beats a good, long, chatty menú del día with close friends or family.
Paella served as a first-course as part of a menú del día.
So, what is a Menú del día?
Most restaurants in Spain, even Michelin-starred establishments, will offer a menú del día — menu of the day — a fixed-price lunch, Monday to Friday.
A menú del día will usually offer a choice of 5 or 6 first-courses, 5 or 6 second-courses, 5 or 6 desserts, wine, water (or beer or soft drink) bread and coffee, for an all-inclusive price of anywhere between 6,50€ and 30plus euros including service and tax.