Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Planning a trip and not sure how to order food in Spanish? In this post and video, you’ll learn the basics of ordering food in Spanish. Spanish restaurant will offer you both gastronomic delight as well as the chance to practice your Spanish speaking skills. Memorize the required phrases and try them out in a restaurant. Aim for correct pronunciation, but don't worry overly about it. So long you are polite and well-mannered, most people will be flattered you are making an effort to learn their language.
Choosing the Restaurant
The first thing to do is choose your restaurant (restaurante). Try a restaurant that locals frequent rather than the ones catering to the tourists. You may have to make a reservation if it is a particularly popular place. You can do this on the phone or on the Internet. If you are phoning, you can say something like this
-“Hola. Quiero hacer una reservación. Me llamo ____ and ____.
¿Puedo reservar una mesa para el desayuno, el almuerzo o la cena hoy?
Somos dos personas.
Quiero una mesa en la área de no fumar y a lado de la ventana."
-“Hello. I would like to make a reservation My name is So and So. Can I reserve a table for breakfast, lunch or dinner today? We are two people. I want a table in the non-smoking area and near to the window."
Then you arrive at the restaurant and you tell the waiter you have a reservation in the name ___ and ___
– “Tengo una reservación en el nombre ____ and ____."
You address the waiter as “Camarero" or, if it is a waitress, as “Camarera".
Things that the waiter will say at the restaurant in Spanish
Waiter: Bienvenido, pase adelante por favor. Welcome, please come in
Waiter: Por favor tome asiento. Please take a seat.
Waiter: Permítame llevarlo a su mesa. Let me walk you to your table
These phrases can be used to order food in any restaurant or at a street stand. It's always best to use formal expressions, even in less-formal environments (e.g. a taco stand in Mexico) because it shows respect. It is also important to learn questions and expressions you might hear from a waiter so you know how to respond.
Looking Through the Menu
You don’t have to chat the waiter up, but it would be nice to be able to do more than announce your entree or point at the menu. These phrases will help smooth out your exchange:
Quiero…. (I want….) Me gustaría… (I would like….) ¿Me trae….? (Could you bring me…..) ¿Hay algún plato especial hoy? (Is there a special today?)
At your table, the waiter will offer you the menu – this is “la carta," not “el menu." You will be asked if you want something to eat – “¿Quieres algo a comer?" – or what you would like to eat – “¿Qué quieres comer?" Or if you want something to drink – “¿Quieres algo a beber?" If you are not offered a menu or don't find one placed already on your table, you can ask for one – “Quiero ver la carta, por favor."
Let's see some examples:
Waiter:¿Qué van a tomar? What would you like to drink?
Waiter: ¿Qué les traigo de tomar?What can I bring you to drink?
Waiter: ¿Desea algo? Would you like something?
Waiter:¿Desea algo de comer? Would you like something to eat?
Waiter:¿Desea algo de tomar? Would you like something to drink?
Waiter:¿Desea algo más? Would you like anything else?¿
Waiter: ¿Desea más café? Would you like more coffee?
Customer: Me gustaría/quisiera...una cerveza...por favor. I would like...a beer…please. (formal)
Customer: ¿Me trae...un café...por favor? Could you bring me...a coffee...please? (formal)
Customer:¿Qué bebidas tiene? What drinks do you have?
Waiter: ¿Les tomo la orden? Can I take your order?
Waiter: ¿Qué desean comer?What would you like to eat?
Waiter: ¿Desea algún postre? Would you like some desert?
Waiter:¿Desea alguna sopa? Would you like some soup?
Customer: Me gustaría/quisiera...el pollo con verduras...por favor. I would like... the chicken with vegetables...please. (formal)
Customer: Para mí...las enchiladas...por favor. For me...the enchiladas...please.
Costumer: ¿Hay algún combo disponible? Is there any set available?
Placing Your Order
Once you're done looking at the menu, the waiter will ask if you are ready to order. He will say, “¿Está usted listo para ordenar?" Or you can say you want to place your order now, which is, “Quiero pedir una cena ahora." To tell the waiter what you want, you say “Quiero la ensalada" (I want the salad). Whatever you want to order, just add Quiero before it. You can learn more about food vocabulary visiting this post
If you are not sure what to order you can ask the waiter what he would recommend – “¿Qué usted recomienda?" You can inquire about the ingredients – “¿Qué ingredients tiene?" – or if the item is hot, cold or spicy – “¿Es caliente, frío o picante?" If you are a vegetarian, you can say you want your food without meat or fish. This is “Sin la carne o los pescados". If the salad (or any other item) you want is not available, the waiter will tell you, “Lamento, no tenemos la ensalada." If you are having too much of a communication problem with the waiter about what to order, you can simply look around to see what the other patrons are eating and, discreetly pointing, convey you would like the same.
You can order a drink before your meal – “Quiero el vino blanco (white wine), el vino tinto (red wine), una soda (soft drink) o un vaso de agua (a glass of water)" – and you will probably be offered bread and olive oil while you are waiting for your meal to arrive. When your meal finally arrives, the waiter might say something like “Buen provecho". This is the equivalent of the French 'Bon Appetit".
Getting the check
Most of the time, people use adjectives to describe food such as “Delicioso”, “Sabroso” (delicious), “Feo” (not delicious in this case), “picante” (spicy), “dulce”(sweet) and “salado” (salty), among many others. If you like the meal, be sure to say, “El alimento es delicioso!" (The food is delicious). A basic sentence describing food in Spanish will also use the verbs SER and ESTAR, e.g. “El filete está delicioso” and “La comida es sabrosa en ese lugar”. Chefs all over the world like to be complimented. Later, you can ask for the bill by saying, “Camarero, quiero la cuenta, por favor." If service isn't included in the bill, leave a tip or “la propina" for your waiter.
Here are more example: Waiter: ¿Desean algo de postre o café? Would you like a dessert or coffee?
Waiter: ¿Les puedo ofrecer algo más? Can I get you anything else?
Customer: No gracias. La cuenta por favor. No thank you. The check please.
Customer: No gracias. ¿Nos puede traer la cuenta por favor? No thank you. Could you bring us the check please?
Listening Activity No. 1: A conversation in a bar
In today’s video you will learn the vocabulary from the conversation in a bar. You will see the phrases used by the waiter and by the client, more phrases with the verb poner. Take notes of the information you consider important and listen carefully to identify the phrases presented above plus a few new ones. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Listening and Quiz Activity No.2: Esto no es café
Listen to a conversation between two friends who are ordering food at a cafeteria in Spanish. Pay attention to way the waiter ask if they have booked a table and how they discuss about the dishes in the menu and what they think is delicious or not. Then solve the quiz about the conversation. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Listen to the conversation again and answer these questions about its content. Press START when you are ready.
1. ¿De qué es el jugo de la chica?
a) naranja b)mango c) piña
2. ¿Qué va a ordenar el chico?
a) agua b) leche c) café
3. Complete the sentences
Chica: Esto no es _______________, es_____________.
Chico: Y esto no es______________, es_____________.
Listening Activity No.3: We sit down for a tasty meal in Colima, Mexico.
Listen to a conversation between two friends who are ordering food at a restaurant in Mexico. Pay attention to way the waiter ask if they have booked a table and how they discuss about the dishes in the menu and what they think is delicious or not. Then solve the quiz about the conversation. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Want to learn more phrases about how to order a fast food or common latin food in Spanish? Try our online, in person or group class. Contact us any time if you have questions.
¡Hasta la vista!
The Español Latino Team