Regional Madrid cuisine is generally hearty - stews, meats, beans, eggs - and rife with fried options (see Food in Madrid for more). The capital's strong point, however, is its wide selection of restaurants from other Spanish regions (Basque, Galician, Catalan, Andalusian) and rich tapas culture. International restaurants are also helping to energize the city's gastronomical status with their ever-increasing variety and quality, Don't expect to eat lunch before 1:00pm at the very earliest. Most Madrid restaurants will start serving lunch around 1:30pm and end around 4pm, but the most typical time to get started is sometime between 2pm-3:30pm.

Lunch ("la comida") is the meal most valued by Spaniards and you'll do well to follow their lead if you want to spend light. Most restaurants offer a "menú del día" at lunchtime. This is different from the "carta" -- the normal menu. Menú del día is a prix fixe meal with appetizer ("primero"), a main dish ("segundo"), dessert ("postre") and a beverage all included. The price range is generally between 7.50€ and 15€.