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FOOD & DRINK

Menú del día map: Where has Spain’s staple meal become most expensive?

With inflation putting up the price of everything from olive oil to electricity bills, now a Spanish custom renowned for its value for money is also being affected: the menú del día.

menu del dia price map spain 2022
As could be expected, the most expensive 'menús del día' in Spain in 2022 can be found in the Basque Country, Catalonia and Madrid. Photo: Myznik Egor/Unsplash

Spain’s much-loved menús del día (menus of the day) are sacred to many Spaniards and can be found in pretty much every city, town and village across the country.

They are typically three-course menus served at lunchtime for a fixed price and include a drink, which may be beer or wine, as well as bread.

READ ALSO – The secrets of El Menú del Día: The surprising story behind Spain’s fixed-price lunch menu

The menús del día date back to the 1960s during the Franco regime, when they were called menús túristicos and were introduced so that tourists would be able to pay a fixed price to enjoy Spanish cuisine.

In the 1970s, they changed their name to menús del día as they became even more popular with the local population. In most cases, you can select between several dishes for each course and depending on what you order, menús del día can be great value for money.

Between 3 and 4 million people regularly enjoy the menú del día offer in Spain.

Inflation on the menu

But like a lot of the world in 2022, Spain has been gripped by a cost-of-living crisis and it now seems that the much-loved menú del día is becoming the latest victim of inflation. 

According to a survey conducted by Hostelería de España, between November 2021 and April 2022, four in ten restaurants in Spain have put up the price of their daily menu offer by 5 percent, a third have raised it by 10 percent, and 7 percent of restaurants raised the prices by 15 percent.

In cash terms, a 5 percent increase is roughly 70 cents, a 10 percent rise is around €1.40, and restaurants that have raised the price by 15 percent have put up prices by around €2. 

READ MORE: Huge debate roars over vague hint that ‘menús del día’ should drop beer and wine

According to the survey, the average price of the menú del día across Spain is now around €12.80.

The hospitality sector in Spain, though enjoying the return of post-pandemic tourism, is struggling to cope with the surge in energy prices and raw materials.

Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, the INE, reported in mid-July that the country’s 10.2 inflation rate was the highest level the country had experienced since 1985

For many restaurants and bars, simply paying the gas and electricity bills or buying basic food stuffs have become an existential cost. As a result, many have decided – or been forced – to raise their prices, and the affordable menú del día is no exception. 

The menú del día cost a little over €4 on average 20 years ago, around 700 pesetas. Nowadays, fixed menus can range from €8 to €14.

Most expensive menús del día in Spain in 2022

But where are the most expensive cities in Spain for a menú del día?

It is worth noting that the following figures are very much focused on major cities, and are not reflective of prices in smaller towns and villages. Often, it will be possible to find much more affordable menú del día offers in small-town bars and restaurants, although even there the inflationary pressures have likely passed on price increases to the customer. 

According to the figures from Hostelería de España, Barcelona is the priciest place in Spain, with an average price of €14. Not far behind in second place is Madrid, where the average price is now €13.90.

Coming in third is Palma de Mallorca, where the price has risen to €13.60 on average, and Bilbao comes in at fourth, with an average menú del día price of €13.50.

Rather surprisingly compared to the cost of living in Murcia more generally, the average price in the southern region has risen to €13, and Zaragoza is shortly behind at €12.80, with Valencia at €12.60.

As is often the case in Spain, the further south you go the cheaper things get. In Andalusia, a menú del día now costs €12.50 on average in Málaga, and €12 in Seville.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands reportedly has the cheapest menú del día at an average price of €11.50, although it’s worth noting that this data only encompasses Spain’s ten most populous cities (More on regional menú del día data further down). 

Here is a breakdown of the average menú de día price in 2022 in Spain’s biggest cities:

  1. Barcelona €14
  2. Madrid €13.90
  3. Palma de Mallorca €13.60
  4. Bilbao €13.50
  5. Murcia €13
  6. Zaragoza €12.80
  7. Valencia €12.60
  8. Malaga €12.50
  9. Sevilla €12
  10. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria €11.50

Hostelería de España has also collected data on what the average price of the menu del día is across Spain’s regions.

We’ve compiled their data into the following map, and below that you’ll find a breakdown of how much menú del día prices have increased across Spain’s regions from 2016 to 2022.

Price increase of the ménu del día across Spain's regions from 2016 to 2022

Galicia: +16.4 percent
La Rioja: +15.7 percent
Basque Country: +12.5 percent
Extremadura: +11.3 percent
Catalonia: +10.8 percent
Madrid: +10.4 percent
Asturias: +9.8 percent
Andalusia: +9.7 percent
Cantabria: +9.6 percent
Castilla y León: +9.1 percent
Aragón: +8.8 percent
Valencia region: +8.3 percent
Navarre: +6.5 percent
Balearic Islands: +4.6 percent
Castilla-La Mancha: +4.4 percent
Canary Islands: +2.7 percent
Murcia: +1.6 percent

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FOOD & DRINK

A bite-sized guide to Spanish cheeses

Spain may not be as famous as France or Italy when it comes to cheeses, but it actually produces a wide variety of world-class products. Here’s everything you need to know about Spain’s designation of origin cheeses.

A bite-sized guide to Spanish cheeses

Spain is in fact the third country within the European Union with the most variety of cheeses, just behind France and Italy. There are currently 26 kinds of cheese throughout the country which are certified as denominaciones de origen protegidas or Protected Domination of Origin cheeses (DOPs).

You’ll find DOP cheeses in 13 regions across the country from Galicia to Murcia and even in the Balearic and Canary Islands. Here’s our guide to all the DOP Spanish cheeses so you can be better informed next time you browse the queso aisle at the market.

Los quesos de España con Denominación de Origen

Galicia

Tetilla cheese – The most famous of the Galician cheeses is Tetilla, known for its unique shape which resembles a breast, hence the name. It’s made from cow’s milk and is both light and soft with a salty and mild taste.

ArzúaUlloa – This cow’s milk cheese means ‘cheese from the land’ and is both pale and soft and creamy. It’s often eaten as a dessert cheese and is also great for melting.

San Simón da Costa – This smoked cheese is made from pasteurised cow’s milk and is made in the area of Lugo. It’s known for its iconic tear-drop shape and is semi-hard with a buttery and woody texture.

Cebreiro cheese – This soft white cheese is made from the milk of Galician blonde cows, as well as the Alpine brown variety. It has a bulging mushroom shape and can be aged for up to 45 days. It has a milky, yet slightly spicy flavour.

READ ALSO – MAP: How well do you know your Spanish cheeses?

Asturias

Cabrales – The most well-known of Asturian cheeses is Cabrales, a blue cheese which can either be made from unpasteurised cow’s milk or mixed with sheep or goat milk. It’s semi-hard but has a creamy texture with a sharp acidic taste. It’s often used for melting into sauces or made into croquetas.

Gamonéu – Gamonéu or Gamonedo cheese as it’s sometimes referred to is a fatty blue cheese from Asturias. It has a slightly smoky flavour and is made from a combination of cow, sheep and goat milk. There are two different varieties – Gamonéu del Puertu, which is hard and Gamonéu del Valle, which is rich and creamy.

Los Beyos – This cheese is typically produced in the Picos de Europa mountain range and is a hard or semi-hard cheese made from either cow, sheep or goat milk which is matured over 20 to 60 days. Its flavours include grass and herbs with a tangy aftertaste.

Afuega’l pitu – Made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, this is one of the oldest cheeses in Asturias, whose origin can be traced all the way back to the 18th century. It has a creamy, acidic flavour with a yellowish-white rind or sometimes orange if paprika is added.

Casín – A full cream cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, this cheese is made in a unique way by kneading the curds. It smells of cured butter and has a slightly spicy and bitter taste.

Cantabria

Nata de Cantabria – A soft cream cheese, it’s made from Fresian cow’s milk in Cantabria. It’s both light and mild and is often eaten for dessert or used for melting.

Picón BejesTresviso – This unique blue cheese is made with raw cow, sheep and goat milk and has a strong intense flavour. It’s matured in caves found in Liébana region for a minimum of two months. 

Catalunya

Alt Urgell y la Cerdanya – Produced in the eastern Pyrenees, it was invented at the beginning of the 20th century and is made from pasteurised milk from Fresian cows, which is matured for one month. It is creamy and sweet with a mild flavour.

Basque Country

Idiazabal – The Basque Country’s most famous cheese can be found used in dishes all over the region, from risottos to desserts. It’s made from unpasteurised sheep’s milk from Latxa and Carranzana sheep. It’s an aged cheese with a very slightly smoky flavour.

La Rioja

Camerano – Produced in the Sierra de Cameros in La Rioja, this cheese has been made in the region for over 700 years. It’s made from goat’s milk and is aged over 75 days, giving it an aromatic and earthy flavour.

Navarra

Roncal – Made in the Roncal Valley, it was the first of the Spanish cheeses to gain DOP-protected status. It’s made using raw sheep cheese from the Rasa and Lacha breeds and is aged for six months. It has a velvety smooth texture and is covered with veins of blue mould.

Castilla-La Mancha

Manchego – Perhaps the most famous of all Spanish cheese is Manchego, hailing from the region of Castilla-La Mancha. It’s a hard cheese made from Manchega sheep milk and is aged between 60 days and two years. It has a slightly nutty and tangy flavour and you can often find it served by the slice on its own on tapas menus.

Castilla y León

Zamorano – This sheep’s cheese is made in the province of Zamora and is a hard cheese which takes six months to mature. It’s similar to Castellano or Manchego cheese with a nutty flavour and crumbly texture.

Valdeón – This blue cheese from León is made in the northeast of the province and is made from either cow or sheep milk or a mixture of both. It’s often wrapped in sycamore maple or chestnut leaves before being sold.

Castellano – Similar in flavour and texture to the famous Manchego, this is a sheep’s milk cheese is rich, as well as crumbly and dry. It is aged for six months and has notes of butterscotch and nuts.

Extremadura

Ibores – Made from unpasteurised goat’s milk this rich cheese is aged for two months and is treated with smoked paprika and olive oil during the ageing process. It’s made in Extremdura, however, is loved throughout the country.

Torta del Casar – Made using traditional techniques and raw sheep’s milk, this is a unique cheese because of its semi-hard exterior and very soft and creamy interior, which you’ll find when you open it up. It’s both aromatic and intense with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

La Serena – La Serena is a cheese made from Merino sheep’s milk and is made in the Extremaduran area of La Serena, from which it’s named. It has a strong, bitter and sharp flavour and is matured for at least 60 days. Fully matured cheeses are soft and creamy and can be scooped out with a spoon.

Murcia

Murcia al vino – Lovers of cheese and wine can have both in this unique cheese from Murcia. A very popular cheese, it’s made from unpasteurised goat’s milk from Murcian breeds. The cheese is soaked in red wine during ripening, which gives it a slightly acidic and floral aroma.

Balearics

Maó or Mahón cheese – From the island of Menorca, this white cheese, made from cow’s milk, is semi-hard. It’s both crumbly and dense with a buttery, salty flavour and is aged for two to three months.

Canary Islands

Palmero – Made on the island of La Palma, Palmero cheese is made from unpasteurised goat’s milk who are allowed to graze year round on wild plants. It’s slightly smoked and has been made on the island for centuries.

Flor de Guía – A cheese from the island of Gran Canaria, it’s made from Canarian sheep milk, with a mixture of cow and goat milk added in. It can either be soft or semi-hard and is curdled using vegetable rennet made from dried flower heads.

Majorero – The first Canary Island cheese to be awarded the designation of origin label, Majorero is from Fuerteventura and is made from the milk of the native island goat. During the ripening process, it’s covered with sea salt, paprika, gofio flour or oil and it has an intensely creamy texture.

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