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How to Order Food in Spanish – Rosetta Stone


Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of any culture is the food! Every country and region has their own specialties and local favorites. If you’re learning Spanish, you have the opportunity to connect with food culture across 20 countries! When you’re preparing to travel and feel ready to put your Spanish into action, take a peek at this complete guide of the phrases you’ll need to know to order food in Spanish.

Table of contents:

Common Spanish food vocabulary and phrases

From las bebidas (drinks) to los platos (entrées), you’ll encounter a wide range of vocabulary on menus. First, dive into vocab and example conversations in the video below, where you’ll take a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico with Rosetta Stone. 

Ready to dive deeper into ordering food in Spanish? Let’s review some common words and phrases. 

Common phrases:

Spanish English
¡Bienvenido! ¿Cómo puedo ayudarte? Welcome! How can I help you?
Una mesa para uno, por favor. A table for one, please.
¿Quieres sentarte adentro o afuera? Do you want to sit inside or outside?
Afuera, por favor. Outside, please.
Acompañarme. Come with me.
Aquí. Here.
¿Qué te gustaría tomar? What would you like to drink?
Me gustaría una cerveza, por favor. I would like a beer, please.
¡Aquí tienes! Here you go!
Gracias. Thank you.
¿Y qué te gustaría comer? And what would you like to eat?
No lo sé. ¿Tienes algo vegetariano? I don’t know. Do you have anything vegetarian?
Sí, tenemos unos deliciosos chilaquiles. Yes, we have delicious chilaquiles.
Suena perfecto. Sounds perfect.
¿Es picante? Is it spicy?
Sí, es un poco picante. Yes, it’s a little spicy.
Perfecto. Me gustaría unos chilaquiles, por favor. Perfect. I would like the chilaquiles, please.
¿Algo más? Anything else?
¡La cuenta, por favor! Check, please!

Vocabulary for drinks:

Spanish English
el agua water
el agua con gas seltzer water
el refresco soda
la cerveza beer
el jugo juice
la leche milk
el vino tinto red wine
el vino blanco white wine
el cóctel cocktail
la limonada lemonade
el café coffee
el café solo black coffee
el café con leche coffee with milk

Vocabulary for meat and seafood:

Spanish English
la carne meat
la carne (de res) beef
la (carne de) cerdo pork
el cerdo pork
el pollo chicken
el pescado fish
el pulpo octopus

Vocabulary for fruits and vegetables:

Spanish English
las verduras vegetables
la manzana apple
el plátano banana
la naranja orange
el limón lemon
las uva grapes
la fresca strawberry
la cereza cherry
el coco coconut
el aguacate avocado
la lechuga lettuce
el tomate tomato
el pepino cucumber
el champiñón mushroom
el maíz corn
el brócoli broccoli
la papa / patata potato
la cebolla onion

Vocabulary for desserts:

Spanish English
la tarta cake
el pastel cake (Mexico)
la galleta cookie
el helado ice cream

Vocabulary for restaurants:

Spanish English
la servilleta napkin
el menú menu
la cuenta check / bill
el efectivo cash
la tarjeta de crédito credit card
el tenedor fork
el cuchillo knife
la cuchara spoon
la mesa table

How to order: From hello to goodbye

Now that we’ve reviewed some common phrases and vocabulary, let’s walk through the different steps of ordering food in Spanish, from making a reservation to paying the check.

Getting a table

Not every restaurant you go to will require a reservation, but you will have to ask for a table. Just like when you’re at home, it’s a good idea to call ahead for table reservations when you plan to go to a fancier or more popular restaurant.

Here is an example of how you would make and claim your reservation:

Spanish English
Quiero hacer una reserva para dos personas el martes a las dos de la tarde, por favor. I’d like to make a reservation for 2 people on Tuesday at 2pm, please.
¿Cuál es su nombre? What is your name?
¿A nombre de quién? Who’s it addressed to? (Whose name is under?)
Tengo una reserva a nombre de… I have a reservation under the name of…

If you’re walking into a more casual restaurant or cafe your conversation may include some of the following phrases:

Spanish English
Una mesa para dos, por favor. A table for two, please.
¿Podemos sentarnos adentro? Can we sit inside? 
¿Podemos sentarnos afuera? Can we sit outside?
Por favor, tome asiento. Please, take a seat.
Permítame llevarlo a su mesa. Let me walk you to your table.

Greeting your server

Once you get to your table it’s a good idea to say hello to your server! Here are a few different ways to greet your server:

Spanish English
buenos días good morning
buenas tardes good afternoon
buenas noches good evening

They’ll then ask you if you’re ready to order. You can either start ordering or ask them for more time.

Spanish English
¿Estás listo? Are you ready?
¿Estás listo para ordenar? Are you ready to order?
¿Les puedo tomar tu orden? May I take your order?
Sí, estamos listos. Yes, we are ready.
Sí, por favor. Yes, please.
Todavía no estamos listos. We are not ready yet.
¿Nos puedes dar un minuto más, por favor? Can you give us one more minute, please?

If you’re having trouble understanding your server, you can ask them to speak slower or repeat what they said.

  • ¿Me lo puedes repetir? = Would you repeat that?
  • Más despacio, por favor. = More slowly, please.
  • ¿Lo puedes decir más lento? = Can you say that slower?

Ordering a drink

Your server will likely ask what you’d like to drink first. Here’s how that conversation might go:

Spanish English
¿Qué van a tomar? What would you like to drink?
¿Qué les pongo de beber? What can I bring you to drink?
¿Qué bebidas tienes? What drinks do you have?
Me gustaría una botella de agua, por favor. I would like a bottle of water, please.
¿Me trae una cerveza, por favor? Could you bring me a beer, please?

Ordering food

Once you have your drink, your server will ask you to order your meal.

Spanish English
¿Le puedo tomar su orden? Can I take your order?
¿Desea ordenar? Would you like to order?
¿Qué va a comer? What would you like to eat?
Para empezar me gustaría… To start I would like…
Quisiera un/una… I would like…
¿Me traes un/una…? Will you bring me…?

After you’ve ordered, your server may return to ask how you like your food.

Spanish English
¿Todo en orden? Everything okay?
¡Gracias por la deliciosa comida! Thank you for the delicious food!
¿Se les ofrece algo más? Can I get you anything else?
¿Sería todo? Will that be all?
Sería todo, gracias. That’ll be all, thank you.
Sí, es todo. Yes, that’s it.
Sí, gracias. Yes, thank you.

Asking for the bill

Finally, when you’re finishing up and ready to pay, here’s how to get and pay the check.

Spanish English
Disculpa, la cuenta, por favor. Excuse me, the check, please.
¿Me trae la cuenta, por favor? Can you bring the check, please?
¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de crédito? Can I pay by credit card?
Disculpa, ¿aceptan tarjetas? Excuse me, do you take cards?
Tiene que pagar en efectivo. You have to pay with cash.

You can also signal non-verbally that you’re ready to pay. First, you’ll raise your hand to get the waiter’s attention. Then, motion with your hands like you are writing something down.

Usted versus

When speaking another language, politeness is an important part of helping conversations go smoothly. These etiquette rules apply to conversations you have with servers and restaurant staff. An important part of expressing politeness in language is using the proper pronouns when speaking to other people. In Spanish, you’ll have to choose between using the formal usted (you) and the informal (you) when speaking. 

While you may initially lean towards using usted, the formal version, this isn’t always the best approach. Depending on the country you’re visiting, the proper “you” can differ. And, with Spanish as the official language of 20 countries, there’s a lot of room for variation.

But never fear, we have a few tips to help you make the right choice.

  1. First, don’t overthink it! People will appreciate that you’re making an effort to learn and speak their language. 
  2. Practice active listening. When the server addresses you, try to listen for whether they address you with or usted. From there you can mirror their level of formality. A great way to get used to listening to people in other languages is through the immersive environment of Rosetta Stone. With both pronunciation recognition and audio lessons, Rosetta Stone will help you strengthen your speaking and listening skills.
  3. Practice using both versions! The more comfortable you are forming sentences with and usted, the easier it will be to switch between the two.

If you’re still unsure which to use, you can generally use in more casual settings, like a cafe, and usted for more upscale restaurants.

Don’t use tener – ask a question instead!

Another common mistake new Spanish speakers will make is using tener when ordering at a restaurant. In English, it’s common to order food or drinks by telling the server what you would like or want to have (tener). You might be tempted to translate literally and end up with a sentence like Podría tener (Could I have…), Quisiera tener(I would like to have…), or Me gustaría tener (I would like to have…) that uses tener.

But, in Spanish these “I” statements aren’t quite right. Instead, you should focus on what you want your server to do for you. An easy way to do this, while still being polite, is to give your server commands in the form of a question. So instead of saying “Can i have” instead ask your server “Can you bring me.”

  • Me traes = You bring me…
  • Me puedes traer = Can you bring me…
  • Me podrías traer = Could you bring me…

Ordering for a group

Now that you’re ready to order, make sure you know who you’re ordering for! Most of the time you’ll likely be ordering food for yourself. In these situations you can use para mí (for me) in the sentence to indicate you’re ordering for yourself.

  • Para mí, una cerveza, por favor. = For me, a beer, please.
  • Los chilaquiles para mí, por favor. = The chilaquiles for me, please.

When you’re ordering for someone else at the table you can similarly use para ella (for her) or para él (for him).

  • Para ella, una cerveza, por favor. = For her, a beer, please.
  • Los chilaquiles para él, por favor. = The chilaquiles for him, please.

In some situations though, like ordering appetizers for the table, you might want to order for the group as a whole. In these cases, you’ll want to say vamos a pedir (we’re going to order) or add para compartir (to share) to the end.

  • Vamos a pedir cervezas, por favor. = We’re going to order beers, please.
  • Vamos a pedir tacos para compartir. = We’re going to order tacos to share.

Asking about dietary restrictions

Another aspect of dining that can make it difficult to eat out in another country is finding food that aligns with your dietary preferences. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or have allergies, it’s important to find out what ingredients are in your food.

To ask about specific ingredients, you can use the phrase ¿lleva…? (does it have).

  • ¿Lleva carne? = Does it have meat in it?
  • ¿Lleva nueces? = Does it have nuts in it?

If you have severe allergies, it can be a good idea to write out a couple of these questions on a notecard or on your phone so you’ll remember how to ask the waiter when you order.

If you’d like to order something but it has an ingredient you don’t want, you can use sin (without) to ask for the dish without a specific ingredient.

  • sin carne = without meat
  • sin queso = without cheese
  • sin nueces = without nuts

Or, if you’d like to add on a specific ingredient you can use con (with) to ask for it.

  • con carne = with meat
  • con chile = with spice
  • con leche = with milk

Asking for recommendations

As with any restaurant you visit, but especially when traveling, you may be unsure what to order. Here are a few helpful phrases to ask the waiter if you’re having trouble choosing something to eat. 

  • No sé qué pedir. = I don’t know what to order.
  • ¿Qué nos recomiendas? = What do you recommend to us?

If you’re choosing between two dishes you could also ask which the server recommends.

  • Estoy entre la paella y los chilaquiles. ¿Qué me recomiendas? = I’m between paella and chilaquiles. What do you recommend for me?

Or, if you’re wondering if there are dishes with a specific ingredient or for your dietary needs, you can ask for recommendations like this:

  • ¿Tienes algo vegetariano? = Do you have something vegetarian?
  • ¿Tienes algo con pescado? = Do you have something with fish?

Asking for suggestions is also a great way to find out about the local specialities. With Spanish speakers all over the world, you’ll never run out of exciting and delicious local delicacies—from the arepas in Colombia and mole in Mexico to the paella in Spain. So before you visit a new place, be sure to do some research on the regional dishes. 

But for those times when you’re in a pinch, here are some phrases for asking your server about regional dishes:

  • ¿Cuál es la comida típica de esta región? = What is the typical food of this region?
  • ¿Cuál es su especialidad? = What is your speciality?

Ordering to-go food

If you’ve finished your meal and you want a to-go container, or you’d like to order takeout, it’s okay to ask the restaurant. Simply tell your server:

  • Para llevar, por favor. = For takeout, please.

You can also use a similar phrase to indicate that you’ll be eating at the restaurant.

  • Para comer aquí, por favor. = To eat here, please.

Can you say bon appétit in Spanish?

Want to celebrate eating your delicious meal? Do it like a local! You may be familiar with the French phrase bon appétit, but is there an equivalent in Spanish?

Well, in Mexico you can start your meal by saying provecho or buen provecho, which is sometimes translated as bon appétit or enjoy your meal!

  • ¡Provecho! = Enjoy your meal!
  • ¡Buen provecho! = Enjoy your meal!

You can also say salud before you have drinks (usually alcoholic drinks).

And, after a good meal you can proclaim your happiness with this Spanish saying:

  • ¡Panza llena, corazón contento! = A full stomach makes for a happy heart!

Dig into learning Spanish

Ready to take a bite at improving your Spanish knowledge? Let Rosetta Stone help you! Start by learning basic words and phrases, reviewing the essential basics for learning Spanish, or exploring Oaxaca, Mexico through everyday conversations. Rosetta Stone can help you learn a language faster and more confidently than you would if you studied on your own.

With Rosetta Stone, you’ll learn Spanish naturally with a unique immersive approach to learning. Bite-sized lessons help you learn at your own pace, and the Rosetta Stone app lets you do it all on the go. Plus, you’ll have the option to choose between Latin American or European Spanish to ensure you master the nuances of each dialect! 

Ready to jump right in? Start your first lesson today at rosettastone.com.

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.
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