After a few days in Madrid, many of which I spent perpetually hungry for some delicious ham and sangría, I’ve learned that I had a lot to learn before next-level tapas hopping.
Table Manners (or “Who knew I was doing everything wrong?”)
Keep those hands above the table. Waiters don’t tend to call people out for this in a restaurant and especially not in Madrid (because they are very sofisticado), but in general the Spanish prefer guests to keep their hands in sight. I try my best not to imagine what incidents led up to this rule.
When done with eating, lay the fork and knife on the plate parallel to each other and begin a leisurely three hours where the waiter never glances over once (see tips for this situation below).
Ordering (or “Señor? Señor?Por Favor”)
An unfortunate side effect of the generally accepted tradition of tipping only very small amounts (yay for budget travelling!) is the phenomenon of Spanish waiters who don’t give a fuck. They can be wonderful and charming and handsome and give you another free ración of that glorious ham (shout out to Juan), but they can also not care if you wait for the bill until the country is solvent again. Try to be fairly aggressive about getting their attention (okay, get off the table, not that aggressive) and they will respect your display of dominance or at the very least give you the check.
Schedule (or “Adapt to this Schedule or Slowly Perish of Hunger, Thirst and Heat Stroke”)
So you’re wandering the streets at noon in search of a nice menu del día, an orgasmic combination of value and quantity somehow ingrained in the Spanish psyche as a sacred tenet. Too bad, too sad, reader: restaurants open at 1PM-4PM. Want a snack between 4 and 7? Best not be wandering the streets then because, not only are all the restaurants closed, they are so deserted I expected a tumbleweed and some twangy music to appear. For good reason: Spanish sun has some sort of a vendetta against all life-forms (particularly this poor innocent Let’s Go writer. What did I ever do to you sun?!).
En fin: So now I feel better prepared to brave the Madrid restaurant scene, armed only with a Let’s Go guide, my ingenuity and an exceptionally bad hangover (don’t worry, that’s what a siesta’s for).