Madrid and Lisbon with 4 kids on a budget
Hello! Our family of five is traveling to Europe this summer and I am trying to plan some of our meals. I refuse to eat fast food in America so there is no way I'm eating KFC in Europe. My children are not picky and want to try local cuisine. We are just limited in our options due to budget constraints. 45 days is a lot of meals. We are looking for good affordable places to eat that a local family would go to for lunch or dinner.
Is it ok for me to bring my children ages 10 and up to tapas? We will be in Madrid for 4 nights and Lisbon for 4 nights.
I'll suggest Bom Jardim in Lisbon. It serves hefty plates of roast chicken and potatoes at a bargain prices in a pretty setting outdoors
The good news is that Lisbon is overflowing with tasty bargain restaurants that are cheaper than what you pay in the states at KFC, so long as you stay out of some of most obviously touristy area -- and even there the restaurants are simply overpriced for what you are getting compared with what you could be getting just a few steps away.
Also, this thread might be helpful to you
Your kids will certainly want to try Portuguese pastries, which are loaded with eggs and milk or cream, which should fill them up on the cheap! Portuguese bread is also quite delicious -- much better than many kinds of "portuguese bread" marketed in the states. So keep an eye out for the bakeries serving sandwiches, especially if you are heading off to some very touristy beach for the day. You might want to pick up something to take with you instead of paying inflated prices mid-day.
Vegetables didn't automatically come with the main plates I ordered in Lisbon (just potatoes), but I made up for it by eating a lot of the very delicious melon that is available in the warm months. It is very juicy, and it nice to have after a meal when it is hot. Tomato and onion salad is also a popular side dish, but I was less enchanted than some are.
Finally, restaurant servings are so ample that they can be shared within reason. A typical plate of grilled sardines (delicious!) or mackerel is two huge portions per person, on top of a pile of potatoes, for about 7 euros. Likewise grilled octopus. Depending on how hungry you all are, you can order 3 such dishes for your table, plus vegetable sides or salads. melon for dessert.
I think you will be relived at how good and affordable Lisbon eats are.
Two classic options in Madrid might be:
1. Casa Mingo, famous for chicken (you can see prices on the menu (click on "nuestra menu at the left of the page); note the different costs for sitting/standing at the bar vs sitting at a table)
2. El Brillante, famous for fried squid sandwiches, which are truly wonderful and very inexpensive. They have other items, too. Near the Reina Sofia and Atocha station.