Dinner hours

I have a  simple question:  What time do you all eat dinner - the evening meal?  I was just in the U.S. and the television ads would have me believe that the ideal is to walk in the door (home from work), go directly to the table and eat.  When I was a child my mother had dinner 'on the table' at 6:00, about 45 minutes after my father got home.  My friends and family in the U.S. eat anywhere from 5:00 (to me, a late lunch) to 7:00.  We, on the other hand have never gotten over 'Spanish' time and eat around 10:00 - later in the summer.  When we both worked in the U.S. we ate around 9:00 - with time to relax, walk the dogs, have a glass of wine and prepare a nice dinner together.  Feedback anyone?

In France, we generally have dinner at 7:00 or 8:00.

In the UK, it was around 8:00 or later, depending of when you're leaving your work.

And in Spain, generaly not before 10:00 as you said ;)

In France, I got the habit of eating dinner by 8PM, the news time. But only when I am not alone. When I'm alone, I eat whenever I'm starving! :D

In the US, I agree with you, Katie, they eat between 5 and 6pm, in general (and quickly : 15-20 minutes!).
But, as french expatriates, we kept a lot of french habits... like eating about 8pm ;)

I like to take my time to cook, take my time to eat and take my time to digest! :)
We can easily stay three hours around the table just for the sake of it. :)

In Greece we eat dinner anywhere between 21:00 (a bit early) and 00:30 (a bit late). In Athens we have a lot of restaurants that are open all night, since people often want to go out and eat afterwards - around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.

Here in Holland, a lot of my collegues eat around 5 h 30 or 6 PM. But i really cannot !! so i keep my french hour, around 9 pm.

I like this topic :)
When I was a student, nobody in the flat would have dinner at the same time: first the Norwegian guy (as soon as he came back from university), then the British guy, I'd eat at 8.30, the Italian flatmate at 9 and the Portuguese one at 10.

I felt very disturbed when moving back from Barcelona to Brussels. A few days after I returned I was invited to a birthday at 9pm. I was convinced we'd go eat something together so I didn't have dinner. We went to a cocktail bar. Needless to say how pissed I got :/

Here in Bologna I usually have dinner between 8 and 10. At that time some take away shops are about to close and have little stuff left (e.g. my Tunisian rosticceria, which surprises me much) :(

What great responses!  I always knew I was a European (maybe Mediterranean) at heart - but now it's confirmed.  And do they eat fast in the U.S.?  I have been at tables where the first one to serve himself (gender intended) left the table before the cook had taken a bite! They're missing the point!  I am off to Portugal for 10 days and hope to have many wonderful food experiences....we're stopping in Seville first where I know I will have a hard time convincing restaurants to take a table reservation from a Yank.  I have to promise that we will manage to stay up for dinner at 11:00....and then we will be the first ones there. :P

I noticed that in europe (stop me if am wrong)
that the northern countries have dinner quite early comparing to the south, and make sense considering the weather condition. hard to eat at 7pm on summer in spain, portugal, italy , france...( I am Mediterranean I usualy eat dinner at 8-9pm)
while england, ireland, scandinavian countries eat earlier ( cuz it's much more cold.?)
Plus I didn't keep my habits since am in "cold" romania. I eat earlier than I used to in the south of france :p

+ 1 Bwaiss =)   .... i thought at the same thing !

Funny question, this is a conversation my wife and I have quite often.  While living in America (I'm American), my wife (she is British) was always making comments about people eating between 5-6 pm.  And they always would seem to cram their food down their throat in 15 minutes and collect the bill (if eating out) or clear the table (if they are at home).   In Chicago, we seem to eat at 8pm.  However, since moving to the UK we seem to eat 930 or 10 and we both get involved in the cooking.  There is no way I could eat at 5, like the comment above, it's a late lunch. 

About a year ago, a waiter in Paris told me that you can always spot the Americans in the restaurant, because they eat between 5-7.  The Parisians eat between 730-1000.  The Portuguese wouldn't even think of coming in before 11.

Whenever they are in a kitchen or in front of junk food shelves in shop. Dinner; from 3.30pm for farmers to 8pm for others, most of the times alone, in kitchen, in garden, in car, in sitting room, seated or standing, some famillies around here have not enough chairs around the table, yes I know people eating on windows sill ...
even if you ask them they seem to be unable to tell you their dinner time.

In Germany, most of the people eat at 6pm. It's really early for me !!! For the midday's meal, they don't take an important break. Only 10-15 min. And the majority only have a sandwich.

OK, I've heard about this Spanish/Portuguese habit of not having dinner until 9 or later. What time do they go to sleep, arise, go to work? Yes, I know of the long and late lunch tradition, but that just might be too laid back for me.

With my southern US family, dinner was on the table at 7 and usually lasted 45 minutes to an hour. I do prefer an early dinner, mainly because I'm an early riser (my lunchtime is 11AM).

I am in germany and we usually eat between 8 and 9pm. No idea whether this is normal or purely something left over from the time i spent in London and didn't get in til quite late. But unlike most people here we tend to have a full dinner instead of bread and cheeses.

For the Portuguese, it really depends. Normally, they'd start at 8 PM (News time) and the dinner just goes and goes and goes and goes... I love meals that go on like that. It's so fun and educative!
Well, depending on who you're eating with... :P

My eating habits are sunlight dependent, rather than locale dependent. Summers denote late dinner, Winters early. Although being on a higher latitude in Germany than in Florida, the sun sets pretty late already and its only Spring.

Okay...I eat when I eat! :-)

when I was student, I used to live in a campus (cite U). On my floor, there were all nationalities of the world (my next door neighbours were colombian and senegalese). I knew that the kitchen was always busy.
As soon as I got home, the German were already in, around 6pm. the British around 7. the French around 8. and the Spanish from 9pm... This was a real pleasure because I could see the different quick food recipes of the world.
When I was in Ireland, my Irish flatmate had already finish to eat at 5.30. At 10, she was always with a snack. I actually started to do the same. I lost this habit when I met my Italian boyfriend...
Organising a night in a restaurant in Lecce with my Giaponeses, US, Canadian, Lettonian mates, I wanted to book the table at 9.30, 10.00pm. They were shocked to see how quickly I took the Italian habits.
Everything depends of what you eat before, at what time and how is organised your day. To tell the truth, I prefer to eat around 9pm. That leave us the time to come back from work or the beach, take a shower or drink a glass of wine before attacking the kitchen. ;D

We (northern Germany) eat at 6.30 p.m.
When my parents (from Argentina) are here they cannot understand how people can eat so early!! In Argentina people usually have dinner between 8 and 9 p.m.

In Italy about 8pm. Diner is usually a small affair.

great topic. I once interviewed a group of American study abroad students in Rome on adjustment issues and the top of nearly every list was mealtimes -- their body rhythms couldn't adjust to dinner after 8:00 and even lunch after 1:00.

We generally eat about 9:00 and I feel so rushed when I am in the States and also bad because I make my parents and sisters and their families all WAIT for me to get around to sitting down no earlier than 7:00 -- I just can't do it any earlier.

In Italy, dinner ends the day and in the US it is just an interruption, then everyone is off and running again. Families might even eat together in the US if dinner was at the end of the day as a way of marking the end of everyone's coming and going and therefore eliminating the need to rush through it and giving everyone a way to relax and enjoy each others company. Or maybe I have lived in Italy too long. My 17 year old comes home from school for a proper lunch about 1:45 -- sitting down and even talking to his mother about his day -- amazing!

In England, most people I know who work close to home and especially if they have children, eat 'dinner' between 5pm and 6pm. It's been that way all my life, when I haven't had to commute longer distances to work. I know those who commute further to work, so they can live in cheaper homes but still earn decent money in the cities (and many other reasons) often eat much later, and if they have children two meals are often cooked, one at about 4-5pm and a second meal is made for the parents from about 7:30pm or the kids are fed at nursery, if both parents work.  From my perspective, the kids are hungry after school and get tired by about 7pm after getting up so early ( and they don't have afternoon nap in UK). We don't normally like to eat a main meal close to bed time and when we're less active, so the earlier dinner can be, the better really.

We usually eat between 6.30 and 7.30pm.  Any later than that and I'm almost fainting with hunger!  However many of the locals here in Cyprus eat around 8pm or later.

A lot depends on when you have lunch, I think.  In the USA people often eat lunch at midday, or so I'm told.  In the UK it's nearer 1pm, and in Cyprus lunch is around 2pm, although we stick with the British 1pm for lunch.   About six or seven hours after lunch seems a good time for the evening meal (not that we call it 'dinner' - it's supper in our house).

Hi there, In the south of Spain it is normally around 8pm but in the hot summer months it can be later as generally the heat drops appetites so we eat later.

When here is a dinner at one of my friends (although she is half Russiand and half Peruvian, she was raised in Angola - my homeland), I come prepared. She says "dinner at 8PM". I eat at my place by 6PM (I mean, really eat!!). When I ge there, the meal is never prepared on time!
While people complain, I am ok as I've eaten.
When I start feeling hungry again, like 10PM, that's when dinner is served! ;)

Compromise, my friends, compromise is the word ;)

I'm an American now living in London.  Growing up in the US, we always ate dinner about 6pm.  When I got married, my wife and I did not eat until 8pm because of our late work scheduled.  Here in the UK people eat dinner about 7-8pm. It really makes me mad that many restaurants in London -- one of the largest most cosmopolitan cities in the world -- stop serving food at 9pm, WAY TOO EARLY FOR ME!

I think I was Spanish in my past life. Last year when we went to Sevilla, our plane was late and we arrived at 11pm, tired and starving.  We were happy to discover that restaurants were still open after midnight and serving well into the wee hours of the morning.

I would guess that meal times relate to working and waking hours.  My husband worked for US factories (in the IT departments) several years out of college.  So first shift was 7:30AM to 3:30PM.  It would be strange for him to wait 5 hours after work to eat dinner.  Also, to get up, eat, and to work by 7:30, one has to get up by 6AM.  And that's not counting if you work out in the morning.  Now he works from home when he's not traveling, and we keep the same schedule essentially.  We eat dinner around 5PM.  That way we can digest before we get in bed between 9-10PM.
He just started a 6 month gig in Milan,IT (and then 6 months in Brussels, BE) and I am a little concerned about his adjustment.  He called me yesterday from France (business trip) at 10:30PM (his time) and told me that they had JUST sat down for dinner...they weren't even eating yet.
It should be interesting to see how our life schedule changes when we return to the states :-)

If people aren't eating dinner until 11PM, what time do they go to bed?  How much sleep do they get?

In Denmark, most are finished having dinner by 6:30 or no later than 7:00 (home-cooked / normal family dinner). As a normal workday ends at 4:00 pm, dinner could be anywhere in between those timelines. Our experience with restaurants and dinner parties are different  though - it seems that restaurants are at its fullest anywhere between 7:00 and 9:00 and in most invites dinner is served between 7:00 and later but then you have sundowners from 5:00 or 6:00 while waiting ;). Given the early dinner timelines, restaurants at least keep their kitchens open until 10:00 pm.

Here in Novi Sad, Serbia we eat when my fiancé gets home from work, about 4 pm.  (He does not eat lunch at work.)  We eat again, very lightly, at about 9 or 10 pm.

My husband is Spanish and we keep Spanish eating hours: 2-3 ish for lunch, 8:30-10 for dinner. 8:30 would be considered an "early" dinner! It's ideal if you really do stick to eating the bigger meal at lunchtime. Problem is, any time we eat out it's late, and going to bed with a full stomach: ugh! Anyway, I notice that I still keep Spanish hours even when I'm in the states.

In the UK, I would say 8pm... unless you go to the pub first!!


I am from Poland but I live in Portugal. The dinner hours in Portugal are completely different to the dinner hours of poland. In Poland breakfast is usually at 7 am when you wake up as you start school  at 8 am. In Portugal breakfast is around 8 am as school starts at 9:30 am. In Poland lunch is around 10:00-11:00 which is quite early compared to Portugal which you have lunch at around 14:00-15:00 pm which you go home for your lunch. In Poland school finishes at around 2 pm whilst in Portugal school finishes at around 4 pm. Dinner ( main meal)  in poland usually ranges between 3 pm - 4 pm. But in Portugal dinner ( main  meal)  ranges between 9 - 11 but on school holidays you can stay up until 1 am,  usually. In Poland you would have supper ( which is usually something small ) at aroun. 6-7 pm whilst in Portugal you wouldn't really eat supper.

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