Unquestionably, enjoying the local cuisine is one of the main reasons to love the Camino. However, it is advisable to eat small amounts on many occasions during your walk, as well as to hydrate frequently. Walking all day not only makes you hungry but gives you a free pass to eat whatever you want. So, once the walk for the day is over, you can eat a more copious meal to regain strength and enjoy the local specialties.
Getting enough food on the Camino is not something to worry about. On the main paths to Santiago you will pass through diverse regions of Spain and Portugal, all of them with different local specialties and all of them great. Eating and drinking is a social affair in Spain, mealtimes are always the highlight of any trip there, and walking the Camino is no exception.
One important thing to know is most shelters, hostels and some hotels do not serve any meal, however almost every hotel does serve breakfast. Instead most of the shelters and hostels have a kitchen for pilgrims to use and if your budget is tight, it may you best option. You must keep in mind that in most of them you only have fireplaces and microwaves, the rest of the equipment is sometimes nonexistent and it is convenient to bring your own dishes and cutlery.
Having a good breakfast is essential, so take your time and enjoy a full breakfast that includes: dairy products like milk or cheese, eggs, cereals or bread, fruits or juices and some other things like butter, cold cuts, ham, honey, etc.
As a general rule, it is not necessary to bring food on the Camino, but it is indeed convenient to bring some water and some nuts, fruits or cookies, in case you feel weakness on the road. Everywhere along the route you will encounter a variety of bars and restaurants, and most of them will have an affordable Pilgrim’s menu or “Menu del Día”. It is normally a quite large meal. For 9 to 15 Euros, you will have a choice of a multi-course meal, including wine, beer, water and often a coffee too. Most of the time, there is also a vegetarian option, and if you have any other requirements, the staff will usually be willing to help. “Menus del dia” are a fantastic way to try excellent traditional dishes for a great price.
You should bear in mind that the regular price for the menu will depend on the city or province you are. For example, in Navarra or in any of the big cities, a menu of 15 Euros is within the average, but when in Galicia or small villages the average price will be around 11 Euros.
Remember, when traveling to other countries, it is crucial to know their serving times so that you can buy food on a supermarket or a restaurant.
Supermarkets in Spain normally open regular schedules. It is true that their opening time is not too early, as most supermarkets and grocery stores open around 9:00 am, but their closing times allow for last-minute purchases, since it’s not before 9:00 pm.
Spaniards are many things, but early risers is not one of them. It’s nearly impossible to find a coffee shop that opens before7:00 am, however breakfast time at hotels will normally start around 6:00 am.
Lunch time is the most important meal of the day in Spain, it is such a big deal that it’s called “la comida” or “the meal” as if it was the only meal that actually counted as food. Spanish lunch is food paradise, most restaurants open for lunch around1:30 pm and the peak time starts around 2:00 pm.
Dinner time in Spain is definitely late; most restaurants won’t even open their doors before 8:00 pm. And if they do, you’ll find there are two dinner seatings: the tourist seating, which starts at about 7:00 pm, and the local, which goes anywhere from 9:00 pm until midnight. The Spanish like to go out late and stay out late. You’ll need to adjust your body clock accordingly.