An Ode To… The menu del día

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As the Pound throws itself, lemming-like, off the Brexit cliff, bagging a bargain when you’re travelling in the Eurozone is more essential than ever. Thank goodness for Spain’s wonderful tradition of the Menu Del Día – menu of the day. It is what it says it is. Simple, right?

From roadside ventas to even more upmarket eateries, the menu del día is used to lure in the office workers and truck drivers with a three-course meal, plus a drink, often a coffee, too, for under 10 euros – if you’re lucky. The best place to sit down to such a dish is in a roadside restaurant, preferably out of town and on a busy route. If there are coffee cups and saucers piled high ready for service, it means they’re expecting a crowd.

One of our favourites is the Venta Riofrío, on the motorway between Granada and Málaga. On our most recent trip, after picking up our hire car and heading for the mountains, we made our usual pitstop for coffee. But as lunching hour was approaching, we decided to take a break and sit down for food. Service was brusk-yet-functional – the waiter dropped off the menu and drinks in between chugging on his caña – and the food was like a hug from your Spanish grandma.

First, a bowl of locally-grown olives and some crusty, fresh bread. Then a steaming, enormous bowl of callos de garbanzos – a meat stock laced with slivers of tender tripe and superb quality chickpeas. The bowl was mopped dry. Then a slab of meat cooked over a wood-burning brasa outside – possibly veal? – jewelled with sea salt crystals and served with patatas pobres – poor man’s potatoes or, in other words, slices of potato baked with onions and green peppers. Plus a dollop of homemade aioli. Washed down with a local caña – that’s a little beer to you. And then pudding: a homemade flan (a sort of baked custard) with caramelised sugar syrup and a mandatory squirt of canned cream. Let me just say that again: 10 euros including tax. TEN EUROS.

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Venta Riofrío, Carretera Málaga-Granada, KM 185, 18300 Rio Frio, Granada, Spain
+34 958 321 066

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