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Mar 24, 2009 02:01 PM

dos broke blokes en andalucia

I've been purusing the subforums here on Chowhound for places I'll be visiting this summer (Spain, Germany, Poland, France.) I've found that, especially in Western Europe, Chowhounders seem to think that a real hardship of a food budget is something like 100 euros per person per day. Well how 'bout dividing that by five?

I'll be in Andalucía, backpacking with a friend, for two weeks in June. We're both rather impoverished, recently out of school, and soon to be grad students. Considering the economy and the weakening US dollar, that impoverished state is magnified. We're planning on staying in hostales/pensiones and also camping, taking buses instead of trains, etc. In other words we're on a serious budget. We've decided that, for Spain, we're looking at a food budget of twenty euros per day. As a chowhound, this is hard to accept in a country so praised for its culinary merits as Spain. But primarily I'm traveling to enjoy the architecture and to understand history (and hopefully something about the culture and worldview of the countries I'm visiting.)

So to please my budget and my stomach, I'm hoping that this modest amount will allow us to get two meals a day from the supermarket and mercados, getting our fill of Spanish cheeses, breads, jamones, and olives, seasonal fruit for breakfast, and some necessary calorie-dense Frankenfood too probably. Then each day we'd like to supplement that with a menú del día for lunch or a cheap tapas meal for dinner (sin vino, no bebemos mucho). I just need to know if this plan and budget is actually realistic. A friend who went to Spain last summer told me that even in the two big cities, it's quite possible to have a menú del día for under ten euros. I'm also counting on the (reputed) *free* tapas offered with drinks in Granada and some of the less cosmopolitain areas of Andalucia. And here, I'm hoping that there is a non-alcoholic choice which offers the same benefits (mineral water? juice?)

Furthermore, if anyone can reccommend inexpensive but good restaurants for lunch or dinner in Cordoba, Seville, Cadiz, Ronda (also Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra), Granada, or Malaga please feel free to name them. I've done some searching on this Spain/Portugal board, but most posts either don't name prices, or when they do the restos are clearly out of our budget range, or they are for establishments in Madrid and Barça.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I don't have any specific recommendations, as I haven't been to that part of Spain for a few years, but we have travelled a fair bit within Andalucia. It's worth getting a copy of the Rough Guide - it really helped us find cheap places to stay and eat. And it's also worth getting out of the big cities, and exploring the cheaper rural areas - there are some real gems, and the Rough Guide is great for tips on public transport in more remote areas.

    You're right - a menu del dia at lunch time and tapas in the evening, with a few picnics thrown in, is the way to go. You will get a better quality meal for 10 Euros outside the main towns and tourist areas. The province of Jaen is great for free tapas (as is La Mancha, but that's probably a bit far off your course) - and really nice ones too - a damn sight better than those served in many of the bars in Madrid. I'm not sure that you need to have alcohol to qualify for free tapas, but maybe one of you having a beer each round may help!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Theresa

      Thanks for the advice about staying out of the cities. Perhaps we can cut some of our time in Seville, as that's the largest city we'll be visiting. I do have a copy of Rough Guide to Spain, though mine is about four years old now. Perhaps getting a recent copy of RG Andalucia would be more helpful.

      I'll have to report my findings after returning in the summer.

      1. re: Agent Orange

        Don't cut out Seville... that is an incredible city. Agreed that you are on the right track with menu del dias and some tapas. I wish i was going this summer instead of last summer as your dollar will get you almost 20 percent further than mine did based on current exchange rates.
        Some of the more traditional and older tapas bars had prices more in the 2 euro range, while some of the more contemporary ones were more in the 3-5 euro range. The older tapas bars have a lot of history so you will likely enjoy those very much. Try Las Columnas up the block from the cathedral, and also try Casa Morales, also near the cathedral, which is the 2nd oldest tapas bar in town.

        1. re: dmo305

          I don't know, the more I read the news, the more I'm beginning to suspect we're headed back in the direction of 1.60. I guess it will depend in part on what moves the ECB makes in the coming months.

          I don't want to skip Seville entirely, that's for sure. I guess we'll just have to play it by ear. Thanks for the two recs. 2-3 € sounds reasonable. How does one ask for tap water in Spain? My Spanish is rather poor, but I know in France when you're having a meal you can request a carafe d'eau for the table. I wonder if I can ask for a pitcher of water in Spain ... un pichel del agua?

          1. re: Agent Orange

            Most of our group stayed away from tap water on the trip. A couple friends drank it everyday and had no problems. Beer and bottle water prices are typically the same so we opted for the former.
            I might ask for "agua de la casa" or just indicate when you ask for water, "no de botella". I'm pretty gringo by the way so hopefully a local will have a better answer for you.

    2. Absolutely you'll get a three course menu del dia for 10 Euros and maybe a bit under. Usually with wine and water. Stay away from the tourist areas and look-out for small back street places.

      Andalucia still makes much of the siesta but , in the cities, not as much as it used to. The tradition used to be that people would go home for lunch and these small cafes served those who lived away from the metropolitian areas and just couldnt manage the journey in time. Of course, cars now make the journey easier so there are fewer of the cafes around but they are Spain's BIG bargain if you find one. Bear in mind that, in many, there may be absolutely no choice - and you're going to need whatever menu Spanish you have to understand what you're getting.

      1. In Granada, it was quite common to get a little tapa per drink was a great deal...

        1. Instead of getting a new RG to the TimeOut guide for Seville & Andalucia (one book)...used it last year for our travels in Andalucia...and the food reccomendations were spot on!!!! I'm usually a bit wary on rest. rec.'s in guides, but every place we tried was great! (and we live in Spain!)

          In general, do like the Spanish, and have the menu del dia for's usually quite you wont have to eat too much for dinner...just a few tapas.

          Some Andaluz tapas specialties to try are: cazon (which is fried fish with a vinegary flavour - yum!), gazpacho - ok, they do it everywhere in Spain, but I think Andalucia does it the best-it's very smooth & creamy (and you'll need it if you're out wandering about in the heat), salmorejo (which is like gazpacho but thicker & served with chopped boiled egg & ham on top - really good smeared on fried eggplant slices or bread), tortillitas de camarones (which are little flat fried shrimp cakes).

          For non-alcoholic drinks...Cordoba, Seville, & Granada are full of places called teterias, that are places that sell 100s of types of teas/infusions, both hot & cold & fruit drinks. Very cool! Then, in regular bars/restaurants you could always ask for a clara (which is a 1/2 beer & 1/2 fanta limon) it's quite light, alcohol-wise. Also Spain is full of non-alcoholic beers...just ask for una cerveza sin.

          From what I remember, Cordoba seems to be the more expensive of the Andaluz cities...we ate at Casa El Pisto in Plaza San Miguel for tapas (were ok)...but I remember the gazpacho was really good...they served it in glasses...and it should be in your budget.

          In Ronda we ate at Almocabar in Plaza Ruedo Alameda - might be out of your budget- but they do have a tapas bar. In my notes, I have it marked as Excellent! and noted they make good salads.

          In Seville, we loved the montaditos at Antonio Romero which is on a street next to the bull stadium, El Arenal (Calle Antonia Diaz)...ask for the pringa & the piripi which is the house specialty!!!

          In Granada, around C/Elvira, there are loads of teterias, kebab shops, and good arab food really cheap!

          Hope this helps! You're going to have so much fun! I just loved Andalucia!

          1 Reply
          1. re: msmarabini

            A few more things:

            You could always search out a panaderia for breakfast/lunch, where you can buy for 1-3euros each, empanadas (which have loads of different fillings, like tuna-roast peppers-tomato/pisto, or spinach & cheese, or aspargus-ham-bechamel sauce, etc) or bocadillos.

            Also, in Valencia, you can find loads of places with the menu del dia at 8 euros, so I'd imagine it would be more or less the same in Andalucia.

          2. Thanks Harters, reignking, and especially msmarabini for the replies. Lots of very helpful advice here.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Agent Orange

              You can never go wrong with Donar Kebab, either...

              1. re: Reignking

                I can recommend Almazar on C/ Santa Maria la Blanca in Sevilla for really good doner, falafel, and fixings. Very good for a cheap eat and the Owner and his brother the Chef are really really friendly.