Food is such a huge part of life in Barcelona and eating routines really do dictate the timetable of this city. Let me tell you about local eating habits and times so you can get the best out of your culinary experience during your visit.
Breakfast – 8 am to 10:30 am
This is quite a light affair consisting of a coffee or a cocoa drink accompanied with plain biscuits or cake. In the mornings, cafes and bars offer a combined deal of coffee and pastry at a great price. At this early hour you will be given café amb llet (a machine coffee with hot milk). You can ask for a solo (expresso) or a tallat (machiatto), although these beverages are traditionally taken after dessert at the large midday meals. For the more healthy ones, the front stands at the Boqueria market serve up great fruit salads for take away at unbeatable prices.
Media mañana – 11 am to 12:30 pm
Some people might decide on having a little snack to keep them going before lunch. In bars sometimes they have special offers of a mini entrepà (a small filled baguette) and a canyita (a tiny glass of beer) for very little money. What a great option for snacking in between sightseeing.
Lunch – 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
These are the hours when the main meal of the day is eaten. On weekdays, restaurants offer set 3 course meals, including drinks, at very reasonable prices. You need to ask for Menú del Dia and maybe a little help with the translation. Dishes change every day and most places will only print up a photocopy in Catalan or Spanish. Beware that after a huge feed with wine you might roll over and decide to take a siesta like I often do! Don’t worry too much. Things run later here and museums can stay open until around 8pm so you’ll be able to fit in both.
Merienda – 5 pm to 6:30 pm
If adopting local eating times, you will probably need a quick snack to keep you going. This might be an ideal time to try some delicious chocolate and churros (a cup of thick drinking chocolate with fried fingers of batter for dipping). To go the Catalan way, you can order ensaimadas (Mallorcan pastry) or melindros (lady fingers) to dip into your hot chocolate. Churros establishments close during lunch and open their doors in the evening around 5-5:30 pm. The quaint Granja Viader, over 100 years old, is the most traditional one here in Barcelona.
Dinner – 9 pm to 11:30 pm
Evening meals are taken quite late here. Don’t distress if you are an early eater as many restaurants have adapted quite well to visitors, opening their doors before hand. Traditionally, portions consumed at this late hour are not as big as at lunch time. While starters, mains and deserts are available, you won’t find those 3 course bargains that are on offer in the afternoons. Sometimes locals chill out on terraces with friends over a beverage and some tapas. This might be the ideal time to give those famed small plates of food a go. I know that this is one of my favourite ways of eating in Barcelona!
Photograph by Andrew E. Larsen
Ann Marie Brannigan
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