How to Order Food in Spanish

Let’s be honest, one of the best things to do while in Latin America or Spain is eat! Keep this guide handy for for both reading menus and ordering food in Spanish-speaking countries.

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Ordering Food and Drinks in a Restaurant

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.

Ordering Drinks

Waiter: ¿Qué van a tomar?

What would you like to drink?

Waiter: ¿Qué les traigo de tomar?

What can I bring you to drink?

Customer: Me gustaría/quisiera...una cerveza...por favor.

I would like...a beer…please. (formal)

Customer: ¿Me trae...un cafe...por favor?

Could you bring me...a coffee...please? (formal)

Ordering Food

Waiter: ¿Les tomo la orden?

Can I take your order?

Waiter: ¿Qué desean comer?

What would you like to eat?

Customer: Me gustaría/quisiera...el pollo con verduras...por favor.

I would like... the chicken with vegetables...please. (formal)

Customer: Para mi...las enchiladas...por favor.

For me...the enchiladas...please.

Getting the check

Waiter: ¿Desean algo de postre o café?

Would you like a dessert or coffee?

Waiter: ¿Les puedo ofrecer algo mas?

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?

Cultural Note: In the United States, there is an unspoken cultural cue that when the waiter asks, Can I get you anything else? and you say no, he/she will bring the check. In Spain and Latin America, this is considered rude and, thus, a waiter will not bring you the check until you ask for it.

Spanish Words Related to Eating

Here is some general vocabulary related to dining that you may hear, or want to use while eating in a Spanish-speaking country.

  • la comida - food
  • el restaurante - restaurant
  • el desayuno - breakfast
  • la comida/el almuerzo - lunch
  • la cena - dinner
  • la cuenta - check
  • la propina - tip
  • el plato - plate
  • el vaso - glass
  • el tenedor - fork
  • la cuchara - spoon
  • el cuchillo - knife
  • los cubiertos - silverware
  • los antojitos - snacks/appetizers
  • los aperitivos/las entradas - appetizers/starters
  • el plato principal - main dish
  • las sopas y ensaladas - soups and salads
  • los postres - desserts
  • las bebidas - beverages
  • menú de desayuno - breakfast menu
    menú del día - menu of the day (3-4 courses)

Cultural Note: Menu of the day options are normally served Monday to Friday, during lunch time at an economical price. In both Spain and Latin America, it is common to take a 1-2 hour lunch to enjoy a menu del día with friends and/or coworkers.

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Food Vocabulary

Spanish and Latin American cuisines are extensive and therefore, it’s good to know a variety of food vocabulary when reading menus. The terms below are more or less universal across Spanish-speaking countries, however, keep in mind that many countries have special regionalisms.

Las carnes - meat (and other protein)

  • la carne de res - beef
  • el pollo - chicken
  • la pechuga de pollo - chicken breast
  • el pavo - turkey
  • el jamon - ham
  • el pato - duck
  • el tocino - bacon
  • el cordero - lamb
  • el cerdo - pork
  • los huevos - eggs

Los mariscos - seafood

  • el pescado - fish
  • el camarón - shrimp
  • la almeja - clam
  • la ostra/el ostión - oyster
  • la vieira - scallop
  • la langosta - lobster
  • el atún - tuna
  • el pulpo - octopus

La fruta - fruit

  • la manzana - apple
  • la naranja - orange
  • el platano/banano - banana
  • la uva - grape
  • la pera - pear
  • el limón - lime
  • la fresa - strawberry
  • la frambuesa - raspberry
  • la mora/la zarzamora - blackberry
  • el arándano azul - blueberry
  • el arándano rojo - cranberry
  • la cereza - cherry
  • el coco - coconut
  • el aguacate - avocado

Las verduras - vegetables

  • la lechuga - lettuce
  • el tomate - tomato
  • la zanahoria - carrot
  • el pepino - cucumber
  • el calabacín - zucchini
  • la calabaza - pumpkin
  • la col rizada - kale
  • el espárrago - asparagus
  • el ejote - green bean (Latin America)
  • la habichuela/la judía verde - green bean (Spain)
  • el brócoli - broccoli
  • la berenjena - eggplant
  • el apio - celery
  • la cebolla - onion
  • la espinaca - spinach
  • el chamiñión - mushroom
  • el maiz - corn

Los granos y las legumbres - grains and legumes

  • el frijol - bean
  • la lenteja - lentil
  • el papa/la patata - potato
  • el arroz - rice

Las bebidas - drinks

  • el agua - water
  • la leche - milk
  • el refresco/una soda - soft drink
  • una limonada - lemonade
  • el jugo de naranja - orange juice
  • el café - coffee
  • el té - tea
  • la cerveza - beer
  • el vino tinto/blanco - red/white wine

Los postres - desserts

  • el pastel - cake
  • el flan - custard
  • la galleta - cookie
  • el helado - ice cream

Now, you are all set to explore and enjoy the gastronomical wonders of Spain and Latin America. What are you going to eat first?