The menu del dia is the cheapest way to eat out in Spain. Here are a few things worth knowing before you order.
Read more about Lunch in Spain
1. Lunchtime OnlyMenús del día tend to only be served at lunchtimes - and usually only on week days. Arrange your eating habits around this fact and you'll get the best food in Spain at the best price.
2. Spanish Only
As a restaurant's menu del dia tends to change every day, it is unlikely that there will be anyone on hand to translate it into English. Some restaurants then kindly assume that as you are not a Spanish speaker, you couldn't possibly want then menu del dia, even though they probably have one. If you aren't offered a menu del dia, ask "¿Hay menú?" (EYE men-OO?), but remember to bring your phrasebook!
See also: Spanish Food Translations
3. Primeros and SegundosYour meal will be split into three - a first course, second course and dessert or coffee. The 'primer plato' will usually consist of your carbohydrates or vegetables, and the 'segundo plato' will be your meat and fish. If you prefer, you can usually order two primer platos (but not two segundos).
4. Coffee or Dessert?You can usually choose from either coffee or dessert for your final course, but sometimes the coffee won't be included. Ask, "¿Esta incluido?" (est-AR in-clue-EE-do?).
5. Save Some Room?Don't expect much of your dessert. Plus, very occasionally you might find there is no desert offered at all. You will see 'postre' on the menu if it is included.
6. Tax Included?Beware, in touristy places you might find the price of the menu doesn't include tax. It will say "IVA incluido" or "IVA NO incluido" on the menu.
7. Inside or Outside?Frequently (and not just in touristy places) there will be a supplement for sitting on the 'terraza'.
8. Wine or Water?In many restaurants, the standard serving for wine or water is a carafe - whether there are two of you or you are dining alone. Which means that if you both order wine, it will probably be a carafe to share, but if you're very lucky, ordering one wine and one water could get you a full serving of each!
9. ...Or Something Else to Drink?Most menus will say 'con pan y vino/agua' (with bread and wine/water), but it is usually possible to order another drink - but not always. If you don't feel like wine, check something else is allowed (using the above "¿Esta incluido?") - beer is usually OK, coca-cola or other soft drinks are often not.