Posted by: puebloman | July 26, 2011

Cheap Spanish food 2 What is Menu Del Dia?

Eating in Andalusia, Spain

The menu del Dia

Lunch al fresco Spanish style

The Spanish menu del dia was invented during Franco’s dictatorship to provide working men with one substantial meal per day. Del Dias have a fixed price. The Axarquia, Andalucia has the reputation for the cheapest and best value del dias in Spain.

The fare is rarely written down or even chalked on a board, so you have to do the whole thing verbally with a waiter. While they rattle off the whole menu with a flourish, they,  like most Spaniards, are courteous and patient in repeating, waiting, explaining, even venturing into a little English. Many tourists find the bread, salad, three courses altogether too much, though you can always order a single plate, or even a plate and two forks, after all this is Spain not England, but your “poor” appetite may not find favour with your waiter.

The village bar

Spaniards, like the French, eat a plate of soup, followed by a plate of veg followed separately by a plate of meat or of veg. Northerners on the other hand – the English, the Americans, the Irish, the Germans, Scandis, and the Lowlanders prefer to squash their food all together on a fork and stuff it into their gaping gobs. For this reason Spaniards have conceived of an alien plate called a “combinado” where you get, for example, fish or meat, veg and chips all on the same plate. Lemon is not usually served with fish. It is however served with pork, especially “filete” – thin slices from the leg. Don’t forget to ask for “allioli” – a small dish of mayonnaise heavily spiked with garlic and indispensable for chips and perfectly deep fried floured fish.

Spaniards eat late. 2.30pm for lunch (turn up at 2pm on paella day to make sure you get some!) and 9.30pm for an evening meal. Evening meals are for weekends and fiestas. On an ordinary day a Spaniard eats heavily at lunch time, works it off and eats light in the evening. The evening meal is so late because Spaniards work so late. They start at 8am, work til 2.30 pm, siesta til 5.30pm and work until 8.30 – 9pm. A long and punishing day. Northerners should not be so patronising about the “siesta” culture


This is the best lunchtime eating house in Velez Malaga. People come from miles around for the best value (7.50€ in 2011) lunch. There is a large choice of dishes and you get three courses, bread and a drink for your money. It has upwards of 50 covers, and bustling and friendly service but you must speak some Spanish or use a dictionary  because there is no written menu

Whats the best day to go? Any day, Tuesday for paella, Thursday is market day

Whats the best time to go? 2 pm until 3.30 weekdays for the ‘Menu del Dia’, any time for rolls and coffee. Open evenings and weekends but no Del Dia.

Where is it? Velez Malaga – At the Paseo with the giant walking rubber trees, where the buses stop.

What do you get?

1. Para beber (to drink) cerveza, agua con/sin gas, vino tinto/blanco

2. Primero (first course) one of the following:

i. Sopa – (all year round) sopa de Moriscos (seafood), Picadillo (chopped bacon and egg in a rich chicken stock)

ii. Entremezas (cold starter: serrano jamon, manchego cheese, prawns, potato salad)

iii. Ensalada mixta (mixed salad: tomato, lettuce, olive, sweetcorn, tuna)

iv. Callos: (In winter – Chick peas with saffron, blood sausage, pigs bits) Bezas is like Callos, Col uses cabbage

v. Paella (Rice with saffron, seafood and chicken)

vi. Spaghettis (slightly overcooked spaghetti in sauce)

vii Gazpacho or Ajoblanco (Summer: Cold typical soups served in half litre beer jugs)

3. Segundo (second course) one of the following:

i. Pescados = fish (‘frito’ = fried in batter or ‘a la plancha’ = cooked on hotplate with parsley and garlic) You can have a plate of

a. Calamares, calamararitos, pulpo, jibia (squid, octopus, cuttlefish)

b. Rosada, bacalao, merluza (dogfish, cod, hake white fish)

c. Sardinas, bocarones (Fresh Sardines, fresh anchovies oily fish)

ii. Carne (‘a la plancha’ or ‘con salsa’ = grilled or in sauce) You can have a plat of:

a. Chuleta de Cerdo con patatas y huevo (grilled pork chop, fried egg and chips)

b. Pollo (grilled chicken) a joint or “filete” – thinly sliced breast cooked on a hotplate in a persillage of parsley,                               garlic and olive oil

c. Carne con salsa (pork meat in tomato sauce)

d. Albondigas (meatballs in sauce)

4. Postres

i. Natilla ( custard with soggy digestive biscuit)

ii. Arroz (rice with cinnamon)

iii. Flan (caramel custard)

iv. Frutas (Fruit in season – melon, peach, orange)

v. Helados (ice cream cornet)

vi. Café – ‘solo’ or ‘con leche’ (black or with milk).

Menu del dia price (2011) seven euros (yes – three courses and a drink!)



  1. Oh how I miss Málaga!


    • I know! What a great city! If I ever get old, that’s where I’ll live!


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