Order Food in a restaurant in Spanish | When traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, one of the moments you wish you spoke Spanish well, is when ordering food in a restaurant. Of course, in some tourist places the staff might speak (some) English (Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cusco…). But this is certainly not the case in many other places. Knowing how Order Food in a restaurant in Spanish will impress your friends and it makes the difference between a ‘standard’ and an ‘excellent’ night out. Speaking Spanish, you’ll be able to connect with the people, understand the recommendations, and learn about the local food.
Reserve a table
If you book a table on the phone before arrival, you will notice that evert Spanish speaking country has a different way ot pickup up the phone. This can vary from ‘hola buenos días’ to ‘’ aló’, ‘si’, ‘digame’ (in Spanish), “pronto’ (in México) and more. If you want to make sure you are talking to the right person, you can ask: “Es el restaurante ___ (name)? And if they say ‘si’, you can continue with “Por favor, quiero reservar una mesa para … (dos/ tres/cuatro etc,) personas’.
The person on the phone might ask: A qué hora? Para qué hora? (At what time). Your answer is very simple: remember all the hours go with “A las…” if you want to say ‘at…’ (except one, which is: A la…). So for instance, ‘at 8 pm’ is: a las ocho; ‘at 9 pm: a las nueve etc. So you just learn the numbers from one to ten:
|one – una*||six – seis|
|two – dos||seven – siete|
|three – tres||eight – ocho|
|four – cuatro||nine- nueve|
|five – cinco||ten – diez|
If you want to add half an hour (e.g. 7.30 pm), you add: y media.
So “at 7.30 pm’ is: a las siete y media.
Arriving at the restaurant
In case you show up at the restaurant, you can ask:
“Hay una mesa? ” o, adding the number of people:
“Hay una mesa para dos/tres/cuatro etc. personas”?
The answer will be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and if you have to wait, they ask you to ‘esperar’.
Having a drink is a great way to pass the time while you are deciding what to order and talk. In the meanwhile, the waiter will probably ask if you want a drink: “Quieren pedir* alguna bebida?”
If you order a bottle of wine, the waiter might ask “Quieren probar el vino?” (if you want to try it before); another question he might ask is: “El vino de la casa?”. It’s always safe to say ‘si’, unlss you want something special of course.
In case you want to order a glass of wine (versus a bottle), ask for a “copa de vino”.
red wine = vino tinto (and not: vino rojo)
white wine = vino blanco
beer = Una cerveza
water – Agua mineral
(Remember: preguntar = to ask; pedir = to order)
When the waiter asks “Puedo tomar el pedido?” you can say “Si’ if you are ready.
Instead of using complicated verb tenses you are not familiar with (yet), you can order politely and yet very simple by using “Por favor’…. + what you like to order. “Por favor, una sopa de…’ o “Un arroz con pollo, por favor’. This sounds perfectly well in Spanish and is very easy for you to remember.
You can also add ‘Para mi’ o ‘para él’ o “para ella’ (for me/for him/for her). Combined, the phrase sounds like: Por favor, para mi… etc.
Some food related Spanish vocabulary:
|Plato principal||Main course|
|Vaso de agua||Glass of water|
Ask for advice in Spanish
If you are not sure what to order, ask the waiter “Qué me recomienda?” to get some advice.
Or, depending on the type of restaurant you are in, you can ask “Cuál es la especialidad de la casa?” to find out what the best dishes are at that restaurant.
Menu del día
Many restaurants in the Spanish-speaking world, offer a daily menu that includes a starter and/or soup, a main dish, a desert and a drink.
You will mostly find this ‘menu del día’ somewhere written (on a chalk board, or a seperate sheet that comes with the menu) in the restaurant. But if you don’t see it you can ask “Cuál es el menu del día?”. Especially in smaller village or in many Latin American restaurants, the waiter will just tell you what the menu is. Great excersise for your Spanish (listening) skills!
If you want to know how much the menu costs, you can ask:
“Cuánto cuesta el menú del día” o – the easier – “Cuánto es el menú del día”?
The menú del día is normally a good value-for-money-deal and it’s a great way too to try popular, local food. Many local people eat their (warm) lunch in restaurants instead of going home (or stay at work), so if you see a lot of locals in a restaurant around lunch time, it’s because they have a good and affordable menu.
If you cannot eat certain things because of your religion or allergies, or e.g. because you are vegetarian, check the menu carefully. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are usually marked.
If you are not sure, simply point at the dish on the menu and ask the waiter “Esto tiene….. (+ the ingredient you are worried about, e.g. ‘carne’ (meat), ‘carne de cerdo’ (pig meat), leche (milk), ‘nueces’ (nuts), cacahuete (peanuts), ‘gluten’ (gluten) etc.
Or, you can ask the waiter before ordering: “No puedo comer _____, qué me recomienda o ‘qué puedo pedir’?
Other Phrases in Spanish
To prepare you for some unexpected situations, a short list of Spanish phrases:
|La comida está fria||the food is cold|
|Hay un pelo en la sopa||there is a hair in the soup|
|Todavia no tengo….||I still didn´t get my…|
|Yo no pedí esto||This is not what I ordered|
Additional phrases in Spanish:
|Dónde está el baño?||Where is the bathroom|
|A qué hora cierran||At that time does the restaurant close|
|Cuánto falta||How much longer do we have to wait..|
How to ask for the bill in Spanish
Catch the waiter’s attention and ask “Podemos pagar por favor’ o ‘La cuenta, por favor?” You would normally add between 5 – 10% to the total amount as a tip for the waiter.
We hope this article will help you to order Food in a restaurant in Spanish. Have a nice evening and .. !buen provecho!