I Think Spanish Restaurants are just Weird (Part 2)

Spanish Restaurants

Continuing on from my earlier post about cultural norms in Spanish restaurants, here are 4 more things to be aware of.

Wine

Spanish restaurants will generally carry two types of wine: vino tinto and vino blanco (red wine and white wine, respectively). That’s it. Unless they offer it to you with the menu, there is no wine list. More high class restaurants might carry specific flavors for the wine connoisseur, but don’t count on it.

Another thing to note about the wine in Spain is the price – cheap. While Spain’s standard of living is low to begin with, the vineyard that your glass of wine came from might only be a few hours away. That means restaurants aren’t faced with the same import costs that other countries might suffer from. And if you go to some store on the way home to pick up a bottle? You can usually trust it, even with a 3 euro price tag. Spain’s got good wine, get used to it!

…and other beverages

Beer is the same idea, though it receives less recognition because it’s not nearly as, well, ‘Spanish’. While, yes, cerveza is the word for beer in Spanish, don’t ever order a cerveza in Spanish restaurants. Instead, ask for una copa or una caña. You won’t have any options regarding brand, and usually not size, at least not in your average restaurant. If you’re feeling more experimental, you can always check out a cider house!

Eating on the terrace

While the wine is cheap, remember that tourism never is. Spain knows that tourists like to sit on an Instagram-worth terrace and sip a café con leche, so expect an extra charge at Spanish restaurants with outdoor seating. While that isn’t to say that paying another euro or so is never worth a lunch on a Spanish terrace, don’t be surprised to see that charge on the cuenta (bill). Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike will enjoy this experience, so don’t turn it down over a couple euros!

“Free” extras

Most Spanish restaurants will stick a couple pieces of bread on your table. Others will give you olives. Sometimes they’ll charge you for them, sometimes they won’t. Even if you leave it on the table and never touch it, they might charge you. Many Spanish restaurants will wait for you to mention that you didn’t eat the bread or olives before taking them off la cuenta, and still others won’t forgive the charge if you left the extras on the table for the meal. The point of the matter is always ask. Flag down your camarero (waiter) and ask “Es gratis?” (Is it free?).

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