How long should lunch and dinner be?

As we venture into the later part of Summer, I've been thinking about how long lunch and dinner should be.

How long should lunch and dinner be?
Photo by Xochi / Unsplash
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    As we venture into the later part of Summer, I've been thinking about how long lunch and dinner should be.

    I've always been a big proponent of long lunches and dinner. In this aspect, I consider myself part of the Latin American and European community that loves 2-hour lunches and 3-hour dinners.


    Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla / Unsplash

    As a Product Manager (my schedule is meeting-heavy), I tend to have 30 or 45 min lunches during the workweek. It's slightly more time than the 30 mins mandated by the state of California. I'm always trying to find time for an hour's lunch, but it's always a balancing act.

    I've recently transitioned to be in the office 4-5 days a week in San Francisco. I love collaborating with my co-workers, debating ideas, building the future of fintech, and celebrating successes and learnings in person.

    While I love working in person, I've struggled with the delta between my remote-working meals and my in-person meals.

    Eating lunch while working remotely felt like a nice unplug with frequent, extravagant home-cooked lunches (post coming soon about all the incredible meals Vero and I cooked during lockdown!). Family phone calls even helped break up the day during lunchtime.

    On the contrary, eating lunch in-person can often feel like a "productive" lunch if enough time isn't given.

    Ideal Lunch

    As a person of Latin American descent (I'm Guatemalan and Mexican), I love lunch. It's my favorite meal of the day but also one of my greatest struggles since I was 16.

    In my ideal world, lunch would be 2 hours every day. However, that's not realistic in high-performing, capitalistic societies. (Or is it?). You could easily eat with family or just be out for an hour or two.

    El Almuerzo - Vicente Giner Valls 
    Street Taco Lunch in Mexico City

    Part of attending high school, college, and working in Tech is operating in a model of quick lunches. You eat to eat and move on with the rest of the day.

    However, I love my almuerzo, my lunch. I have this idealistic vision of lunch that takes me back to my childhood in Guatemala, to studying in chile, to traveling Europe, where I had my 1-2 hour lunches.

    El Almuerzo in Guatemala

    Lunchtime in a Guatemalan community / Source: Highland Support Project

    My mom, who grew up in Guatemala, told me that at lunchtime, everyone returned home for 2 hours to eat with the family. Then everyone returned to work.

    I did grow up for part of my life in Guatemala, and I remember seeing all my uncles and aunts eat Lunch with us and drive back to work. It's pretty awesome but something that I will likely not experience in my working career.

    Lunch in France

    French workers out for lunch

    In France, lunch is typically 90 minutes, and workers eat at different cafes throughout the city. San Francisco's downtown is no Paris (Paris has better cafes than SF),

    The podcast below is a fun listen to learn about French Lunch.

    Note: Also, why does everything close at 4 PM in downtown SF?


    In the United States, it feels that dinner is only an hour to 90 minutes max. It can be stressful to make your dinner reservation and be moved out an hour later by a restaurant or time constraints.

    Latin America and European Dinners

    Dinner is usually a 3-hour event in Latin American and European society. A restaurant or friends seat you for dinner, and that's it.

    You are usually the only table, and there's no pressure to get up or leave.

    Closing thoughts on Dinner

    I don't have as strong feelings about dinner compared to lunch. However, why do we need the 90-minute time window on dinner reservations?

    Let me know your thoughts via email or comments below.

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