It is no secret that mealtimes in Spain differ from those in other countries, as does how they are eaten. As a result, determining what the Spanish eat for dinner is critical for any dinner plans you may have for a trip to Spain.

Explore Spanish dinner food

A typical Spanish dinner is a light meal served following a hearty lunch (La Comida) and snacks (La Merienda). It can be something light, like an omelet, salad, or sandwich, or something heartier, like fish or meat. On weekends, however, pizza or leftovers may be served as a dinner option.

The Spaniards know how to eat and spend much time doing so. Eating, in addition to satisfying physical hunger, serves an essential social and cultural function in Spain. When you are on a diet and trying to stay fit, the number of mealtimes may appear to be excessive. But don’t worry; the portions are typically relatively small. These meals provide you with the energy you require without filling you up too much or causing food paralysis.

Spanish Dinner (La Cena)

La Cena is essentially family time in Spain. Imagine a family sitting around the table talking about their days and other dining-related topics or a group of friends eating and talking at a restaurant to get an idea.

Understanding Spanish food culture is necessary as dinner is served from 9-11 p.m. instead of the usual 5-7 p.m. Spanish meals are light. They may consist of several courses, but the total amount of food consumed is small. Night owls can usually meet up with friends at a nearby cafe, club, or tavern for an after-dinner meal or snack. They can also stop at a churro stand on their way home.

Appetizers: Tapas

Tapas are small plates of delectable Spanish cuisine. Spanish appetizers or snacks refer to various foods that vary by region and season rather than a single dish. For example, canapés and finger foods can be served warm or cold.

At a tapas bar, they are sold in small plates to be enjoyed with beer or wine, and they can be combined with other dishes to make a complete meal. Furthermore, tapas is typically consumed before the mid-afternoon La Comida and hours after breakfast.

Spanish tapas

Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes)

This dish is popular at both tapas bars and dinner tables. The recipes may differ depending on where you live. The ‘brave’ sauce’s spicy kick inspired the name ‘patatas bravas.’ Potatoes are cut into small pieces and fried in oil in Burgas and Valencia. A tomato-based sauce or aioli then accompanies them.

Gambas Al Ajilo (Garlic with Shrimp)

When it comes to seafood, this dish is a favorite among both locals and tourists. In all of its delectable and complex flavor, it is served in the majority of tapas bars and restaurants. Fresh prawns are deep-fried in olive oil with garlic and a pinch of pepper. They are then served with bread to soak up the sauce in a clay or metal bowl.

Main Course

Although the main course portion is larger than the tapas portion, it remains small and light. Rice or fried potatoes are commonly served with fresh fish or seafood, roasted chicken, or lamb. It’s also worth noting that many tapas dishes can also be served as a main course, though in larger portions.


Among traditional Spanish food, this is one of the most popular rice dishes. It started in Valencia and has since spread all over the country and beyond. Traditional substitutions include meat, rabbit, or seafood. In this saffron-flavored rice, meat, and seafood are typically served alongside white beans, green beans, and other herbs. The saffron imparts a distinct yellow color. To increase the freshness of the dish, clams, prawns, and prawns can be added.

If you like to experiment, try black paella, which is made with black rice and colored with octopus and prawn ink.

Spanish paella

Arroz Cubano

Because the main components of this dish are rice and an egg, it is simple to prepare. It is popular throughout all Spanish-speaking countries and is available in various flavors. Garlic can be added to the rice or not.

Sofrito, a tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, pepper, and onions, can be served alongside the dish. It is customary in some areas to include a slice of fried banana.


Dessert is often the most anticipated course of the evening. It will be both sweet and savory and a source of comfort.

Leche Frita

A dish like this demonstrates that Spanish cuisine is diverse and aims to satisfy the senses to the greatest extent possible. Leche frita, meaning “fried milk,” is a popular Spanish dessert among children in northern Spain.

Leche frita is made by wrapping warm, crunchy batter flavored with sugar and cinnamon around milk custard. It is then served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Leche frita

If you want to enjoy these amazing Spanish dinner foods, knowing the Spanish language is necessary. There are several mediums offering Spanish classes, but finding the authentic one is difficult. If you want to study Spanish in the comfort of your home, italki is the ideal learning medium for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a traditional Spanish dinner like?

A traditional Spanish dinner often includes multiple courses. It typically starts with appetizers such as “tapas,” followed by a main course featuring seafood, meat, or poultry. The meal, then, concludes with a dessert.

Are tapas only served as appetizers, or can they make up a full dinner?

 Tapas are traditionally served as appetizers, but it’s common in Spain to make a meal out of them by ordering a variety of tapas dishes. This allows for a social and interactive dining experience.

What are some common tapas dishes served for dinner?

Common tapas dishes include patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce), albondigas (meatballs), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and calamares a la romana (fried squid).

Is paella a common dinner dish in Spain?

Yes, paella is a popular dinner dish in Spain. It is a rice dish cooked with various ingredients, often including seafood, chicken, rabbit, or a combination of these. Paella is associated with the Valencia region but is enjoyed throughout the country.


In this guide, we have explored the delightful dinner foods in Spanish. You can enjoy these dishes during your stay in Spain. But don’t forget to follow Spanish food culture and their expected dinner timing. We also recommend you learn travel phrases in Spanish to converse in Spanish effortlessly.  

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