Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Eating Customs in Spain


The Spanish breakfast, or “desayuno”, often will just be a cup of coffee with milk. Food eaten at breakfast time is usually just a pastry, like a churro dipped into chocolate sauce.

Spanish lunch, or “comida,” is typically eaten between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon, and is the main meal of the day. It usually consists of several courses. The first course is the lightest, which is usually soup or salad. The second course is heavier, usually fish or meat. Spaniards then have dessert, which is often fruit, Spanish flan, a pastry or a piece of cake. This is before the “siesta,” the mid-day rest. Some people take naps, but others might just hang out. Businesses are often shut in the middle of the day so that people can eat and rest, and won’t reopen at any specific hour.

Spanish dinner, or “cena”, is smaller than lunch, and occurs usually between 9:00 and 11:00 at night. People usually eat something like a sandwich, some tapas or salad. They might eat even later than usual on the weekends or in summertime.

Coffee is very common in Spanish culture, and Spaniards will often enjoy a few cups a day. There is very tasty espresso, but it is rare to find drip coffee. Many people drink coffee after meals as dessert.


Snacking or eating between meals is common in Spanish culture with tapas, which began in Seville. Groups of friends will go out to bars, either as a form of night entertainment or after work, and drink and snack on small meals. Tapas consist of anything from cheeses to a selection of fresh vegetables to cocktail onions to meat with sauce. People often eat tapas because there is such a gap between lunch and dinner. There is often a separate tapas menu from the regular menu if you go to a restaurant. Some bars only serve tapas.

Another Spanish eating custom is the “Sobremesa,” which translates as “Over the table.” After friends go out to eat at a restaurant, they will spend up to several hours conversing and catching up with each other. People often get drinks during this after-meal period.

In terms of tipping, it is not required in Spain (like most of Europe). If you feel like you should tip, a typical rounding-up or 5-10% of the tab is appropriate.


2 thoughts on “Eating Customs in Spain

  1. Yeah the Spanish live to eat as against eat to live, it is a pleasure especially with big gatherings of friends and or family.

    There is also ‘merienda’ sort of high tea….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.