Cafes and Bars
There is little distinction between cafes
and bars as they both serve alcohol and coffee. Bars can be found
in differing forms; Cervecerias (beer bars); Tabernas
(taverns) and Bodegas (wine bars). The latter can sometimes
be found serving decent food too. Most bars will offer some style
of food; most usually in the form of Tapas, ranging from small
'tit-bits' to full meals and eating at the bar often saves you 10%-20%
off the bill!
These are generally open for lunch and
dinner. Remember that the Spanish don't usually take their lunch
until 2pm and consequently usually have dinner after 9pm! Most
areas however realise that we tend to eat earlier and open accordingly;
those that have an attached bar tend to stay open all day.
Most restaurants display a menu outside
including prices - taxes and service charges should also be shown but
are not always!
A meson usually serves
home-cooked food, a venta is a road side inn, a comedor is
a restaurant attached to a hotel and a marisqueria is a seafood
specialist. As in many countries one can usually find a fixed
price menu (most often served at lunch but sometimes also at dinner)
called menu del dia - this would usually consist of a salad or
small tapas to start, a main course and a light desert to finish.
These are usually very reasonably priced but another option is the
plato combinado - this is usually described by numbered photos -
helpful for those of us who don't speak much Spanish!
As Spain is considered a meat and fish eating society there are perhaps fairly limited vegetarian
options. It would be unlikely to find a strictly vegetarian
restaurant but there are some wonderful vegetable options.
However do be aware that some options may have been cooked in meat
stocks eg vegetable soup might contain beef or chicken stock and lentils
might be cooked in something similar.
Wine is no different to anywhere else
in the sense that you get what you pay for! However it is possible
to find wine for as little as €1.50 a bottle - obviously there are no
guarantees as to its' quality! Most restaurants will have a house
wine (vino de la casa) and again this could be either extremely
palatable or not much better than 'Sarsons'. White wine is
blanco, red wine is tinto and rose is rosado.
Cava is the local champagne - a
methode champenoise. This is extremely quaffable and
although is no match for the 'real thing' it doesn't pretend to be and
is thankfully priced accordingly.
Beer is usually served either by the
bottle (cerveza) or as draught (caña) - draught beer being
a more economical choice! The caña is considered a small
beer, the next size up being a tall, straight glass (un tubo) and
a jarra is roughly a pint. If you are driving you might
wish to have a shandy which is a clara.
There is a local drink called Agua
de Valencia which is a bucks fizz with a twist - Cava, orange
juice and a generous slug of Vodka! Other spirits can be used such
as Gin so you have been warned!
Sangria is the well known Red
wine and fruit punch drink - often with a generous helping of spirits,
usually brandy. This slips down extremely easily but look out for
the sore head the following day!
Spanish Brandy (conac) is
generally cheap and extremely palatable but most places will offer
international or French brands if you prefer - however these will
understandably be more expensive. Other spirits are distilled in
Spain under well-known brand names such as Gordons and Bacardi but
retail much more cheaply than the UK. There is also a plethora of
local liqueurs such as grappa and schnapps - have fun!