If you’re struggling to survive in Spain’s low-wage, high-unemployment economy, then fear not: the EL PAÍS gastronomy website El Comidista has talked to some of the country’s leading food writers with the goal of drawing up a list of restaurants where it is still possible to have a decent menú del día for €15 or less.
All of these establishments offer a selection of first courses, second courses and dessert, and typically come with drinks and bread included in the price.
“The Spanish omelet is to die for!” says Nella Ruggiero, a journalist at foodie website Platunique. That probably explains why every time I pass the place, it’s packed… That and its eight starters and 12 main courses. Aside from the above-mentioned tortilla de patata, this traditional establishment offers patatas revolconas (deep-fried pork belly chunks in paprika-seasoned mashed potato), kidneys in sherry, and breaded “ear” of hake. Until I read their menu, I never even knew that hakes had ears.
Casa Dani: Mercado de la Paz. Lagasca street, 49. Madrid. Tel. 915 755 925. Map. Set menu price €9.50.
It always seems to be full, but you always seem to find a table. La Sanabresa is the perfect place to go when you are hungry and alone: you’ll want to take the waiters home with you. Home cooking and generous portions are the secret of this no-frills, long-established, family-run place.
La Sanabresa: Amor de Dios street, 12. Madrid. Tel. 914 290 338. Map. Set menu price: €11.
El Comidista writer Mónica Escudero says: “The midday menú at Mostassa sometimes includes duck breast tacos that make you wonder how they manage to keep the price at €10; it also includes soup or salad, along with vegetarian dishes, pudding, and proper bread.” I couldn’t agree more. Mostassa is little short of a miracle.
Mostassa: Mallorca street, 194. Barcelona. Tel. 932 693 841. Map. Set menu price: €10.
Mikel López Iturriaga, El Comidista Foodie número uno, really rolls out the rhetoric in his extensive praise for Bo di Napoli: “This Neapolitan is really smashing.” As I’m not sure if that’s a reference to the restaurant or the chef, I look into the matter and discover that the staff, the ingredients and the dishes are all 100% authentic. Try the delicious antipasti, its pizzas, and pasta worth scaling Vesuvius for.
Bo di Napoli: València street, 197. Barcelona. Tel. 931 895 878. Map. Set price menu: €12.50.
“Gastronomy is the new rock ‘n’ roll,” says food writer Igor Cubillo, of Lo que Coma Don Manuel. “At Satélite T, there are concerts, vermouth tasting sessions, and a top-notch menú del día. The food is attractively served, it’s tasty, and has a modern, fun touch. On a typical day they’ll have a trout soup starter, while for the main courses there will be a Brie salad with tomato jam and stuffed peppers, followed by apple pie, crumble, or almond and green tea ice cream.” What’s more, you can save money by simply having a single course.
Satélite T: Ribera de Botica Vieja, 13. Bilbao. Tel. 670 599 200. Map. Set menu price: €12. Single course: €8.50.
José Maldonado, better known as Pepe Kitchen, writes: “Jacobo Vázquez offers us traditional soups and stews with a personal touch: starters include Russian salad with Málaga prawns, followed by a huge rack of ribs for two people. If you’re a stew lover, then don’t miss the Andalusian-style lamb’s tripe, seafood and tripe, or starters such as home-made croquettes or the sausage pâté. Call ahead to order the full cocido stew for €15. Luxury.” I can’t wait to try it.
Castizo Casa de Comidas: Avenida del Editor Ángel Caffarena. Málaga. Tel. 609 561 401. Map. Set menu price from €12.
Rubén Galdón is a journalist and trainee chef. He also has his own blog, Omacatladas, and is an expert on the cuisine of his native Asturias. He recommends spending €10 on the set menu of La Fundición, in Oviedo. “The best thing here is that they really work hard to come up with new ideas, with a creative touch that is hard to find in the rest of the downtown Oviedo, and at that price.” The menú del día is just €8. A giveaway.
La Fundición: Campoamor street, 17. Oviedo. Tel. 984 046 432. Map. Set menu price: €10. Half menu: €8.
When two connoisseurs like David Monaguillo and Sandeea team up, you know it’s going to be good. “The menu has three starters, three main courses, along with pudding and a drink. These are traditional dishes with a non-traditional touch. The tripe and sweetbreads are outstanding. Tuesdays is cocido. The chef is Jorge Lozano, although I prefer to call him the Stew Master.”
Tapas 3.0: Sánchez Barbero street, 9. Salamanca. Tel. 923 619 619. Map. Set menu price: €15.
I don’t think I will ever be fully able to thank Xabier de la Maza, the owner of The Loaf bakery, for introducing me to this magnificent restaurant offering a no-nonsense one-course menu, along with another featuring no fewer than five courses. Standouts include the meatballs (albóndigas), lettuce hearts, baked tomato with pickled tuna, lentil hamburgers, lasagna and pudding.
Gerald's Bar: Iparragirre street, 13. San Sebastián. Tel. 943 083 001. Map. Set menu price: €14. Single course menu: €10.
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
Alfonso, of Spanish recipe website Recetas de rechupete, says the secret of A Moa’s success is its use of seasonal produce. The set menu always tries to innovate, putting this place in a league of its own compared to similarly priced eateries in Santiago. The décor is very nice, and if you’re lucky and the sun is shining, you can eat in the garden.”
A Moa: Ruá de San Pedro, 32. Santiago de Compostela. Tel: 981 071 818. Map. Set menu price: €15.
This timeless Valencian restaurant offers six starters, five second courses, and any number of puddings. Try the classics on the menu, such as clams with pasta or a hearty fried egg with chistorra sausage.
Rojas Clemente: Plaza Rojas Clemente. Valencia. Tel. 963 917 197. Map. Set price menu: €11.50.