Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dining in Spain

It cannot be stressed enough that Spaniards eat extremely late. The evening meal is usually served between 10 p.m. and midnight. While some restaurants have begun to open earlier, especially in restaurants that are frequented by tourists, most Spaniards still eat late, and you'll find a more genuine Spanish dining experience if you do, too.

The Spanish love tapas. They’re small amounts of nearly any kind of food, usually served with a small glass of wine, beer or spirit. The time between lunch and dinner is usually when most Spaniards frequent tapas bars. You can have a porcíon (small sample) or a racíon (a larger serving). The word tapa means lid or cover. It’s said that this tradition started in the 18th century when Carlos III asked for his wine to be covered with a plate of food to stop dust from getting into it. Bars that serve wine, beer and snacks/appetizers (both hot and cold) are known as tascas. Tapeo is the act of bar-hopping in the early evening, eating tapas and drinking, before Spain’s very late dinner hour. Many tapas bars don’t take credit cards, and it’s usually cheaper to order at the bar rather than at a table.

For suggestions on great places to sample tapas, check out the new 2nd edition of Best of Spain.

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