If there is one thing I love about Spain, it is that food and taking time for the afternoon meal are an important part of the culture. Whether in Madrid or in a small town in a different province, a delicious Menu del Dia (Menu of the Day) is offered at almost any restaurant without breaking the bank. A Menu del Dia consists of a first course, second course, bread, wine, water and dessert. It is very filling and unlike your typical American lunch. I guess you could say it is more like an American dinner in terms of quantity.
One day we ventured off for an excursion to the province of Palencia. When it was lunch time, we asked for a recommendation of where to dine from a local in the small town of Aguilar de Campoos. Once inside the quaint restaurant, the server announced an excellent selection of food for our meal. For the first course: judias verdes con jamon (green beans with ham), ensalada arroz (rice salad), and patatas con cosquillas (potatoes with tiny ribs). For the second course: filete con patatas (beef filet with potatoes), albondigas con patatas (meatballs with potatoes) and lengua con patatas (beef tongue with potatoes).
There were four of us dining that day and between us we tried all the first and second course choices. Everyone appeared satisfied with their delicious home cooked food, as it soon disappeared from the plates. It was ample enough, as were the bread and wine. I did have to leave food on my plate as I had enjoyed too much wine with my meal.
For postre (dessert), the choice was even greater: helado (ice-cream), natillas (runny pudding), flan (custard), tarta (cake) and fruta (fruit). Natillas was the favorite among almost everyone at the table. I somehow found room in my stomach for dessert and opted for flan. I was not disappointed. Had the children not been stuffed, I’m sure they would have finished their dessert.
For this luscious spread of ample, home cooked food, one would expect a high price, no? In fact, that’s the beauty of the Menu del Dia. It has a fixed price, yet includes everything from start to finish. The only item that we purchased ala carte was a café con leche (for me of course!)
In total, we spent 37 Euros for a healthy and delicious lunch for four people. The price per person was 9 Euros each, my coffee was 1 Euro. Even though the exchange rate is around $1.45 per Euro, our meal was only about $13 per person. How’s that for a bargain?
Oh, I forgot to mention: the price includes tax and gratuity. It’s too bad the U.S. doesn’t have more restaurants of this type. If the food was delicious and nutritious and the price reasonable, I for one would dine out more often.