Posted by: debrakolkka | September 6, 2011

Breakfast in Spain

At the beginning of our trip around Spain we were eating mainly hotel breakfasts.  They were nothing special – pretty much the same the world over. The addition of tortilla, a sort of potato omelette cut into chunks, and the odd bit of chorizo was the only nod to Spain.

beautiful Cadiz

In Cadiz our hotel was right in the heart of the old town, so we thought we would venture out for some local flavour.  The guide book recommended Cafeteria Las Nieves as one of the city’s most inviting breakfast spots. We found it not far from the hotel in Plaza Mendizabal and it looked great so we went in. We practised our best “Ola” and ” Buenos dias” to no response.

We sat down and before we could pick up a menu the girl pounced on us to ask what we were having.  I asked if we might have a little time to look and decide – apparently not. She barked at us, asking if we wanted coffee and orange juice, to which we said yes – mainly to get rid of her. While she was away we had a quick look at the menu. One of the suggestions in the guide book was tostada, so we ordered that.

tostada with tomato puree

It turned out to be a lightly toasted, bland, white bread roll accompanied by a bowl of  tomato puree. I looked around and the locals were tucking in with gusto. Some were having the same tomato as we were, and others were scraping a bit of butter on their rolls and some were pouring olive oil directly onto them (probably the best option).

This was not my favourite breakfast. It was flavourless. The photo makes it look better than it was. I would not recommend the Cafeteria Las Nieves. It was unfriendly and the coffee and tostada were ordinary. I am open to suggestions for a great breakfast in Spain. We will be back there one day soon.

Cadiz is a gorgeous coastal town, and breakfast aside, I really suggest you pay a visit. Click here to see more of this beautiful Spanish town.

This is the last in the breakfast series – until the next discovery.


  1. These have been great stories…I just did a post the other day about scrambled eggs (a US tradition). I would like to try vegimite someday!

    • Vegemite is something you have to either grow up with or take a while to get used to. It is good for you, but it is very salty.

  2. Sorry to hear this breakfast didn’t turn out so well. But I’m even more sorry to have the breakfast series end. I’ll look forward to what comes next, though!

    • I’m going to Hong Kong, Helsinki and Paris on my way to Italy soon. Perhaps I need to research breakfast in Hong Kong.

  3. How odd that all the breakfast offerings were so ordinary, when Spain has such an amazing culture of food!

    • I much prefer Italian food to Spanish. I gues that’s why we bought a place in Italy and not Spain.

  4. Ugh. A bit lifeless. Maybe they’re still too full in the morning after all the late-night power-eating.

    • That could be it. The Spanish seem to eat very late so perhaps they can’t face breakfast.

  5. It’s so disappointing when you have a bad meal whilst travelling. It always feels as though an opportunity has been wasted….especially in Spain!

    • We would love some breakfadt suggestions for Spain.

  6. Breakfast is not the best time of the day to taste Spanish culinary delights. Spaniards are, in general and including children, night owls. Late to bed and when you wake up you are not hungry, you are in a terrible mood and you have to rush to work or school. Consequently, breakfast is reduced to a quick cup of coffee. Then, if you have time, you would pop into a cafeteria before going to work to have something. What you will have, depends on the region where you are. Here, in the Basque Country, we have a strong French influence, so you will ask for a white coffee (café con leche) or a “macchiato” (cortado) and a croissant (said in French) or a “bollo” (pastry). Orange juice is slowly becoming popular. You can also ask for “tostadas” (toasts) and they will serve them with butter (mantequilla) and jam (dulce). The olive oil or olive and tomato versions are favoured in the South or Catalonia. Muffins are starting to become popular, but the ones served are smaller in size than the original version and they are called “magdalenas”. No eggs, no “tortillas”, no “chorizo” or anything in that line. If you ask for cereal…. they would think that you are weird…. In some tourist areas such as Marbella or Puerto Banús they serve the traditional English breakfast, but you will not see a Spaniard having it. If the weather is very cold, we have “chocolate con churros”, hot, strong chocolate and a special kind of fritters. The Spanish breakfast will be eaten (if you can call this to eat) at around 10:00 am, or later.
    At around 12:00 noon or later, Spaniards will start to feel hungry, so they will go to a local bar to have a “pintxo or tapa de tortilla”, a small piece of “tortilla” on a slice of bread and a drink.
    Lunch will take place at around 3:00 pm, and this is the main meal in the day. Actually, it is not called “el almuerzo”, which is its proper name in Spanish, but “la comida” (THE MEAL IN CAPITALS). And this is the time when Spaniards eat consistently. “Siesta” is mandatory afterwards.
    Dinner is a very light meal. Who wants to eat after such a lunchtime banquet?
    “Tortilla” is delicious, but you need to know how to make it. Here is a good recipe if you want to try to concoct it. It can become an addiction.
    Different countries, different customs.

    • I knew you would have some great suggestions. It makes sense that breakfast is not a big deal in Spain when dinner at night is so late. Clearly, next time we go to Spain we will have to become Spanish for a while and change our eating habits. I am going to try your tortilla recipe and I will let you know how it goes – I’m sure it will be very good.

  7. Yes I agree, sometimes hotel breakfasts are just too generic and “international” where all you want is some local flavour and food! 🙂

    • We stayed in Paradors in Spain and while the actual places were excellent, they were not always in the centre of town, so we were a bit stuck. We were just in a regular hotel in Cadiz and we loved being in the centre of things.

  8. Oh Debra as soon as I saw the title I thought you had a great breakfast in Spain, that’s too bad. I must have been lucky on my visits there as I have always had a great breakfast. Although I don’t normally have a sweet tooth at breakfast I would have a “bollo”, followed by serrano ham (lots and lots) and the tomato puree and toast. The tomato puree was always so delish, I think you might have had a bad experience, or maybe it is just not your thing? Some days, especially on my last trip, the chef at the hotel would make tortillas to order and they were also very good.

    • I think we may have just been unlucky. I love tomato and toast, but not this particular combination. I think we were most disappointed as the place had been given such a big wrap in the book and it was not great at all.

  9. I loved how all of the granddad’s were drinking red wine with their breakfast of rabbit stew in Barcelona! I had to join in really!
    ps: have lost your e-mail for some reason
    love Daryl XX

  10. The tostada does look inviting in the picture it’s a shame it was so bland and how sad to be on the receiving end of such bad service. I have enjoyed the breakfast series, maybe there will be a lunch in series to follow?

    • Now that’s a thought.

  11. Wrong time to read this post. I woke up this morning with the intention of skipping breakfast, but that’s not happening now! The picture does look more appetizing than your description of it 🙂

    • It looks much better than it tasted. Give me a sfoglia any day, or toast and vegemite, or a delicious rye breadroll with smoked salmon.

  12. As breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, I have really enjoyed your “Breakfast in . . . ” series. Interesting to see what different nationalities like eating in the morning.

    • I was talking today with a young Italian friend who just can’t believe that she wakes up in her share house here in Australia to the smell of onions, eggs and bacon cooking. She thinks that is really wierd. Different people like different things. I love my Italian breakfast of sfoglia and coffee.

  13. My daughter and I spent a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka some years ago but I couldn’t get my head around eating curry for breakfast! My daughter, who all through her childhood would eat chicken curry wherever we went, thought it was wonderful. Give me an ordinary piece of toast any day.

    • Curry for breakfast sounds interesting. I’d be prepared to try it, but it might be a bit much every day. Clearly, it is what we get used to.

  14. I highly recommend chocolate con churros (basically, odd-shaped donuts dunked in strong hot chocolate) – it’s the breakfast of champions!

    • I’m sure you ate that breakfast for its health giving properties.

  15. So disappointing 🙁
    I ate jamon y queso for breakfast.. just because I could 🙂

    • The jamon was pretty good.

  16. Count your blessings…it could have been a Czech breakfast. Really dreadful.

    • I feel your pain. I thought the food in Prague was just awful.

  17. too bad it was tasteless the colour of the tomato is appealing in the photo! I have always thought of the food in Spain as tasty – perhaps I always eat breakfast in – so the lunches and dinners are what I am thinking of!

    • I prefer Italian food to Spanish. I guess that is one of the reasons we bought a house in Italy rather than Spain.

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