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Ordering the Menu Del Dia

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Stephanie Martin

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Camino in Sept/Oct/Nov 2022 (via the French route)
Hi,

Just wondering how to order the Menu del Dia and about tipping?

My command of Spanish isn't good and I'm wondering of ordering the above requires alot of choosing of options, or if they have set Menu del Dia meals. Also, is it customary to tip in Spain and what's the recommendation? Thank you.
 
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biarritzdon

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Usually the menu del dia is the plat du jour, not lots of options. For tipping I normally just round up to a price I feel is fair. For a 12 to 13 euro meal I’ll leave 15 unless the meal was very special, then maybe leave a 20.
 

Rebekah Scott

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Many, various, and continuing.
First, have a look at what the people at the other tables are eating, and make note of what appeals to you.
Make sure the place has a Menu del Dia, and/or a Menu Peregrino... and make it clear you want the Menu del Dia. (it's what the Spaniards all are eating, for good reasons). The staffer will then rattle off a list of "primeras," first courses. Ask them to go slow, pick a couple that sound good. Bean and lentil dishes are often very good, "menestra" roast veggies always a good bet, but pasta? Not unless it's an Italian place.

The staffer will want you to choose a starter right off the bat, but I like to see what's on offer for Segundas, and match up the two to comprise a balanced meal. Watch out for "lomo," "filete," and "rebozada.." which can sometimes mean "sliced deli loaf," "fried shoe leather," and "deep fried fat" respectively. Fish is a good choice. Presa, solomillo, secreto, carrilladas, codillo, pechuga, and cuarto are usually good things, meat-wise! Once you've heard the Segundas list, tell 'em what you want... occasionally I'll opt for two starters, and that's never a problem. If there's no salad offered and you really want one, you can ask if that's possible.
The person will come back after for your dessert order. Always ask what's "de casera," made in-house. Have em tell you what the fruit options are, as fresh dessert fruit is often superb in Spain.

If nothing sounds great, have a look at the "platos combinados," or just order a big "racion" of something you know you like.
 
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xin loi

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One question is how much wine comes with your meal. Varies tremendously--from one liter per table to one liter per person to as much wine as you like.
 

MariaSP

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2019 Camino inglés
2021 Camino portugués
Hi,

Just wondering how to order the Menu del Dia and about tipping?

My command of Spanish isn't good and I'm wondering of ordering the above requires alot of choosing of options, or if they have set Menu del Dia meals. Also, is it customary to tip in Spain and what's the recommendation? Thank you.
Depending on the place, Menú del día can have a varying number of option for each course. On average, they offer 3-4 options. Typically, you choose a first and a second, but many places will allow you to take 2 firsts (this is particularly relevant for vegetarians, as you're more likely to find vegetarian options among the first courses).

Tipping is not compulsory. For Spaniards, a tip is a way to say that we were very pleased with the food and/or service. Rounding up to the next euro or so is usually ok, if you decide to tip, for the kind of menú del día/menú del peregrino places where pilgrims eat.
For more detailed info on tipping, you can check this post.
 

Sheesh

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2009, 2013, (2022)
Waitstaff in Spain are not reliant on tips to pad their salary. I recently watched watched this video regarding tipping in Spain and found it quite informative on the subject:

From Road Trip Spain & Portugal: Tipping in Spain - when and how much...

 
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peregrina2000

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In my experience, it is a very good idea to stay away from places that show pictures of their food on a sandwich board outside or on the menu.

I know that lots of people complain about the food they ate on the camino, but that usually means that they ate the 10-12€ menú del peregrino. If that’s what you can afford, then my advice would be to do some cooking in the albergue. But if you put together the finances of it, it’s kind of astonishing that someone can provide an edible meal with wine served and cooked by human beings for that price, when three courses are involved.

The menú del día is usually a few euros more and a totally different kettle of fish. A menú del día in the 16-18€ range is likely to be excellent. The marginal cost there is small, but I realize that I am luckky to be retired and done with paying college tuition for their children.
 

biarritzdon

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Remember the wait staff is probably made up of family members of the owner and chef. That being said they deserve some kind of gratuity.
 
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trecile

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If you aren't hungry enough for two courses you can usually order just one course for a discounted price (but you still get dessert and wine, beer, or water)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
When I was young and skint the menu del dia was lifeblood and lifesaver. Whenever I’d scraped or scrounged sufficient pesetas to walk into a Meson and call for it I’d relax. A days worth of nourishment, a jarra of wine, and some bread to stuff in my pockets for later.

For the passing pilgrim that moment of pure pleasure is still available. Just tune your ears to the sounds of heaven ( or basic Spanish food words) and practice that firm, sharp, nod of the head and “si“ whenever you recognize what’s on offer.
Buen Provecho
 

dougfitz

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Remember the wait staff is probably made up of family members of the owner and chef. That being said they deserve some kind of gratuity.
As an Australian who finds the spread of any form of obligatory tipping culture such as exists in some countries odious, I don't think anyone deserves a tip for just doing their job. They deserve to be paid a fair living wage by their employer.

I understand that there isn't such a social obligation in Spain, and I don't think we, as visitors, should be attempting to change the local culture to fit our own cultural norms in this or any other ways.
 
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Interesting. I had always thought of Canada as a country with reasonable minimum wage standards for the food service, and other, industry.
No, there is reduced wage for anyone who serves alcohol. Without tips the work is not sustainable as income. With tips those who are good at it and work in a good establishment can do very well. Most are not in that situation and the bulk of our tertiary students put their time in doing “service” and hoping to leave it behind.
A select few end up in the rare locations that pay living wages and do not use tipping in their establishments.
I myself spent 5 years slinging beer, burgers and lattice fries. I did very well on the tips, but my wage was something like $3.65 an hour. I think they are up to something like $7.50 now, some 30 years later. We have a great food writer in Canada, Cory Mintz… he lays out the terrible economics of the food industry and the evils of tipping as well as the evils of clients who want all the fancy and none of the cost…
 
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2022
As an Australian who finds the spread of any form of obligatory tipping culture such as exists in some countries odious, I don't think anyone deserves a tip for just doing their job. They deserve to be paid a fair living wage by their employer.

I understand that there isn't such a social obligation in Spain, and I don't think we, as visitors, should be attempting to change the local culture to fit our own cultural norms in this or any other
Agree on the “fair wage” … and also a wage commensurate with the level of the establishment. We have a shocking over-representation of servers working high-end locations who make nothing like a high end wage. They rely on the large tips in the high bills for their tables. But if we simply raised the table cost and removed tipping, a shocking number of people would assert that they cannot afford to go out.
It’s a bad business model, and one we seem stuck with in Canada.
I am always relieved when in Europe and the people confirm that they do not welcome tips. OTOH… tipping the towel person in the ‘loo is always required. And a euro for the loo in Spain is de rigeur whilst frowned upon in Portugal.
 

trecile

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Especially in the beginning, my Spanish was not good enough to always understand the items being offered. I then usually just ordered the first thing they said and waited for my surprise. Fortunately, I am not allergic to anything and can eat everything, Sometimes pointing to a picture was the best I could do. Oh, well, no shame. It got better. Sometimes if I fell in with a group, if one spoke Spanish, YAY, if not, we were all in for a surprise and some good laughs, especially in those places that gave a liter of vino per person.

Don't worry about it, you'll be fine.

Oh, tipping? Just round up. Don't worry about percentages and don't stress if you forget to tip.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Tipping in Spain is almost as perennial topic as carrying poles on airplanes. I think that everyone who has made a point has made a good point, but all these good points leave me right on the fence where I started.

I liked the info from @MariaSP, but I think things are changing from what she described, at least in the big cities. I have been in at least two restaurants in Madrid where you could add a tip on your credit card bill. My Spanish friends all tell me that American tipping culture is getting more and more traction in Spanish restaurants, especially the high end ones where rich tourists go.

I understand the arguments about how tipping may provide incentives for employers to reduce wages and remove the protections the employees now have. But I also understand how the crisis has hit the people on the low end of the wage scale very hard and tips are greatly appreciated.

So I think it boils down to whether you want to make your decision based on what is good for the social structure and employment protections writ large, or whether you will react to the human being in front of you who may be struggling to get by and has just served you a meal. No right or wrong, just different perspectives, IMHO.
 
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I think that maybe I have given seven or eight tips in my life, including when I travelled around North America. I consider regular tipping to be demeaning to both parties.
In the US tipping is wanted by wait staff as it "beefs up" their low wages. It is normally needed, and always appreciated. It is never demeaning in our country; only if no tip or very small tip is given. If we can afford to eat out at a restaurant, we can afford to tip whatever is customary in each county we visit. I give tips in Spain and always get a smile of appreciation.
 
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dougfitz

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It is never demeaning in our county; only if no tip or very small tip is given.
It appears to me that the demeaning aspect is that the food industry has sufficient industrial muscle to ensure that any tips are not an addition to a living wage, but are factored into the minimum wage structures, essentially creating this obligation to supplement servers income for something that elsewhere is considered the responsibility of the employer.
If we can afford to eat out at a restaurant, we can afford to tip as is customary in each county we visit.
It is now very difficult, even in albergues, to prepare one's own meals on the camino. Maybe not impossible, but nonetheless difficult. It is not a choice of eating out as much as a necessity.

More, tipping is clearly not customary in Spain, and it seems to me a great shame that anyone, not just pilgrims, thoughtlessly and insidiously changes any aspect of another nation's culture by insisting on doing things that did not, and do not have to be, practiced in that society. Its a nasty form of cultural imperialism in my view.
 
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In my experience, it is a very good idea to stay away from places that show pictures of their food on a sandwich board outside or on the menu.
Absolutely. They cater to innocent tourists rather than local customers - and so can serve cheap bad food.

More, tipping is clearly not customary in Spain,
That's all the answer you need.

I will not give my opinions on tipping, although I do have them.
Ditto. Except to say that I think it's sad North American customs are spreading to Spain; I agree with Doug:
and it seems to me a great shame that anyone, not just pilgrims, thoughtlessly and insidiously changes any aspect of another nation's culture by insisting on doing things that did not, and do not have to be, practiced in that society. Its a nasty form of cultural imperialism in my view.
 
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