What A Typical Breakfast Spread Really Looks Like In Spain

If you've never been to Spain but are planning a trip in the near future, you are in for a real culinary treat, especially if you are a fan of breakfast. A traditional Spanish breakfast isn't big, but it is definitely a meal to be savored. However, don't expect to find American favorites like eggs, bacon, pancakes, and waffles on the menu.

Eaten between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., at the very least, you will typically want to have a café con leche or espresso with milk to get your day going; however, if your taste buds are craving something sweeter, you can have a luxuriously layered Spanish coffee that's made with equal parts condensed milk and espresso. This is known as a café Bombón and the thick condensed milk serves as a base over which the espresso is layered. Stir the two together and sip on this sweet drink before you explore this country's beautiful cities. And don't worry, if a café con leche or café Bombon are not your preference, there are plenty of other Spanish coffee drinks you should try at least once.

Open-faced sandwiches are popular

Need more than coffee? You can definitely find something a little more substantive in the form of a pan con tomate. This simple meal is a thick slice of toasted bread that has been rubbed with olive oil, garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a heap of grated Roma tomatoes. Depending on where you have this meal, sometimes the tomatoes will be turned into more of a salsa with herbs and garlic before it is spread over the toast.

If you love bread, but tomatoes are not your thing, don't worry, the Spanish like to serve up what they call a tostada, which is really just an open-faced sandwich with different toppings, but you can get everything from butter and jam to eggs and avocado served on top. If you are visiting the Southern Coast of Spain, you may get to experience a mollete. This flat bread is soft, light, and used to make both the pan con tomate and the tostada.

Bocadillo and torrijas

However, if you are going to go this route, you might as well have yourself a bocadillo de tortilla which is a sophisticated version of a breakfast sandwich. A bocadillo is made with crusty bread similar to a baguette and is filled with anything from a potato and egg frittata to cheese and tomato, as well as chorizo and tuna. You can even find these sandwiches filled with fried squid. A bocadillo is a hearty meal that will take you well into the afternoon and the perfect fuel for sightseers.

Another food item that will seem familiar is the Spanish version of French toast which is called torrijas. It uses slices of bread, usually white, just like the American version of this breakfast favorite. Only instead of simply soaking it in an egg and dairy mixture before pan frying, the Spanish soak the bread in either sweetened milk that has been flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest or sweet red wine before dipping it into the beaten eggs and frying it. This is a celebratory dish that you will most likely find on a menu during Easter. The biggest difference between French toast and torrijas is that torrijas is served cold.

Sweeter breakfast foods

If you are not a bread person, don't worry. You can order-up embutidos de carne which is essentially a charcuterie board. It is made with a variety of cold cuts that include ham, chorizo, pork loin, and salami, along with local cheeses. If you are staying at a hotel in Spain, this is a typical breakfast menu item to feast upon.

But if the thought of a meat and cheese board doesn't hit your breakfast food mark and you need something a little sweeter, you will be happy to learn the Spanish have a fried dough that is the equivalent to an American doughnut and it is served alongside a bowl of milky chocolate for dipping. It is known as churros con chocolate, but eating churros is a different experience in Spain. Brace yourself because they are not covered in sugar and cinnamon. In fact, many people skip the chocolate and will simply have one with their coffee.

Spain is also known for its pastries. Almond croissants and flaky palmeritas, or what we call elephant ears, are also popular breakfast foods. And if you are more of a muffin person in the morning, you will want to find a grocery store that sells Magdalenas. These small muffins are generally lemon flavored and perfect if you are on the go.