A mariache band plays behind diners at a Mexican restaurant

Important Vocabulary to Order Food in Spanish

Author Deborah Cater wrote, “You have to taste a culture to understand it.”

It’s no secret that food plays a vital role in the vibrant cultures of Spanish-speaking countries.

So, when in these places, you’ll quickly find that you need to know how to order food in Spanish.

Read on to learn exactly how to order food in Spanish with over 100 must-know words and phrases, plus cultural notes, FAQs and sample dialogues, so you can practice at home.


Common Words and Phrases for Ordering Food in Spanish

A waiter approaches with drinks on a platter

1. Top Phrases for Ordering Food in Spanish

Before diving into the many useful Spanish phrases you can use when eating out, let’s get these most used basic phrases down:

A few of these might sound quite direct for native English speakers, but in Spanish, you’re allowed to (politely) tell your server what to bring you. Just accompany the command with a smile!

If you learn well by watching, the YouTube video below is a great complement to this post:

Now that you’ve learned the essentials, let’s look at ordering food in Spanish in more detail.

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2. Spanish Phrases for Arriving at the Restaurant

ordering food in spanish

The moment you arrive at a restaurant is often the most stressful, but it’s also the easiest to handle!

Just learn a couple of greetings in Spanish. Make use of the phrases below and you’ll be ready to get the conversation started.

What you can say:

Buenos días / Buenas tardes / Buenas noches Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening
Una mesa para dos, por favor A table for two, please
Tenemos una reserva a nombre de [your name]We have a reservation under the name [your name]
¿Tienen alguna mesa libre? Do you have any free tables?
Mi [novio, esposo, amigo] no ha llegado todavía My [boyfriend, husband, friend] hasn't arrived yet
¿Tienen alguna mesa con vistas a ...? Do you have any table with a view to...?
¿Podemos sentarnos en la terraza? Can we sit on the terrace?

What you might hear:

Bienvenidos a... Welcome to...
Sí, claro Yes, sure
Por aquí, por favor This way, please
Lo siento. No encuentro su nombre en la lista I'm sorry, I can't find your name on the list
Lo siento, no nos queda ninguna mesa libre I'm sorry, we don't have any free tables left
Lo siento, no nos queda ninguna mesa libre en la terraza I'm sorry, we don't have any free tables on the terrace
Lo siento, la cocina ya está cerrada I'm sorry, the kitchen is already closed
Disculpe las molestias Sorry for the inconvenience
Siéntese donde quiera Sit wherever you want
¿Para comer o solo para beber? Are you going to eat, or just drink? Lit. To eat or just to drink?
Debe esperar unos ... minutos You have to wait around ... minutes
¿Tienen una reserva? Do you have a reservation?
Puede esperar en la barra You can wait at the bar

Keep in mind that different Spanish-speaking countries can have various meal times for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper. For example, Spaniards eat supper around 10-11 p.m., while Venezuelans have dinner around 7-8 p.m.

Sample Dialogue

Waiter: Buenas tardes. Bienvenidos a Casa Pepe. (Good afternoon. Welcome to Casa Pepe.)

You: Hola, buenas tardes. Una mesa para dos, por favor. (Hello, good afternoon. A table for two, please.)

Waiter: ¿Para comer? (Are you going to eat?)

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You: Sí. ¿Tienen alguna mesa libre en la terraza? (Yes, we are. Do you have any free tables on the terrace?)

Waiter: Un momento, por favor. Déjeme revisar. (Just a moment, please. Let me check.)

Waiter: Nos queda una. Por aquí, por favor. (We have one left. This way, please.)

You: Gracias. (Thank you.)

3. Ordering Food & Drinks in Spanish

Your next step will be to order what you want to eat and drink.

This is probably when the biggest part of your conversation will take place, and the moment your Spanish food and drink vocabulary will most come in handy.

What you can say:

¿Qué vino recomienda? Which wine do you recommend/suggest?
¿Cuál es la sopa del día? What's the soup of the day?
¿Tiene menú del día? Do you have a set meal?
¿El pescado es fresco o congelado? Is the fish fresh or frozen?
¿Lleva ... este plato? Does this dish contain any [ingredient]?
¿Tiene... Do you have any...
Agua con / sin gas Sparkling/still water (Lit. with/without gas.)
Jugo / zumo de [fruit] [Fruit] juice
Cerveza sin alcohol Alcohol-free beer
Batido / batida / merengada Milkshake
¿Tiene algo... Do you have anything...?
Para vegetarianos / veganos For vegetarians/vegans
Para diabéticos For diabetics
Para celíacos For celiacs
Para intolerantes a la lactosa For lactose intolerant people
Sin azúcar Without sugar
Sin carbohidratos Without carbs
Sin gluten Without gluten
Sin lactosa Without lactose
¿Puede repetir, por favor? Could you repeat, please?
Lo siento, no entiendo I'm sorry, I don't understand
Ahora entiendo I understand now
Una botella / copa / vaso de... A bottle/glass of...
Nada más, gracias That's all, thanks (lit: nothing else)
Poco hecho / Poco cocido Rare (when talking about the cooked level of meat)
Al punto Medium
Bien hecho / Muy hecho / Muy cocido Well-done

Note: You normally use copa when referring to wine and vaso when referring to water and soft drinks.

What you might hear:

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¿Qué van a tomar? What are you having?
¿Les pongo algo para beber? Shall I bring anything to drink?
¿Están listos para pedir? Are you ready to order?
¿Les traigo el menú / la carta? Shall I bring the menu?
¿Quieren ver el menú / la carta? Do you want to see the menu?
Vuelvo en unos minutos I'll be back in a few minutes
Ahora mismo se lo traigo Right away (lit: I'll bring it to you right now)
Le recomiendo... I recommend...
Hoy tenemos... Today we have...
Todo el pescado es fresco All the fish is fresh
Lo siento, solo nos queda pescado congelado I'm sorry, we only have frozen fish left
¿Cómo quiere ...?How do you want [meat] cooked?
Este plato tiene / lleva... This dish has...
Lo siento, no tenemos nada para vegetarianos / veganos I'm sorry. We don't have anything for vegetarians/vegans
Voy a ver / mirar si nos queda I'll go check [see] if we have any left
Aún nos queda We have some left
Lo siento, no nos queda I'm sorry, we don't have any left
¿Algo más? Anything else?

Note: The verb tomar literally means to take or to consume. In Spain, it can be used to refer to both eating and drinking. However, in Latin America it’s normally used to refer to drinking alcohol so, when in doubt, use comer (to eat) and beber (to drink) instead.

Sample Dialogue

Waiter: Buenas tardes. ¿Les pongo algo para beber? (Good afternoon. Shall I bring anything to drink?)

You: Para mí una cerveza y para ella agua sin gas, por favor. (I’ll have a beer and she’ll have still water, please.)

Waiter: Ahora/Ahorita mismo se lo traigo. (Right away.)

Waiter: ¿Están listos para pedir? (Are you ready to order?)

You: Un momento, por favor. (One moment, please.)

Waiter: No hay problema. Vuelvo en unos minutos. (No problem. I’ll be back in a few minutes.)


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Waiter: ¿Saben ya qué van a tomar/comer? (Do you know what you’re going to have?)

You: Sí. Para mí pollo con ensalada. Para ella espaguetis a la carbonara. (We do. I’ll have the chicken with a salad. She’ll have the spaghetti carbonara.)

Waiter: Perfecto. ¿Cómo quiere el pollo? (Perfect. How do you want the chicken cooked?)

You: Muy hecho, por favor. (Well-done, please.)

Waiter: Muy bien. ¿Algo más? (Very well. Anything else?)

You: No, gracias. Eso es todo. (No, thanks. That’ll be all.)

4. Most Common Foods and Drinks in Spanish

You’ll need to be familiar with the most common food and drink options when you finally arrive at the Spanish restaurant, so now, we’ll learn a few items that are pretty much guaranteed to show up on the menu.

La carne Meat
El pollo Chicken
La carne de vaca Beef
El cerdo Pork
Los mariscos Seafood
El camarón Shrimp
El arroz Rice
Los frijoles Beans
El agua Water
El té Tea
El jugo Juice
La gaseosa Soft drink
El vino Wine
La cerveza Beer
La sidra Cider

For a full, in-depth list of Spanish restaurant food and drink vocabulary, check out our post here:

5. Spanish Phrases To Use During the Meal

ordering food in spanish

You might need something during the meal or the waiter comes to your table to check if everything’s fine.

Use these moments to practice your Spanish further!

What you can say:

Está delicioso / riquísimo It's delicious/very tasty
Todo está perfecto Everything's perfect
¿Puede traer...? Could you bring...?
¿Tiene menú / carta de postres? Do you have a dessert menu?
Estuvo todo perfecto  Everything was perfect
Felicitaciones al chef Congratulations to the chef
El / la ... está frío / fría The [food] is cold
Perdone, le había pedido... Excuse me, I ordered...
El / la ... no está fresco / fresca The [food] isn't fresh
Hay un pelo en mi sopa There's a hair in my soup
Esto no sabe bien This doesn't taste good

What you might hear:

Buen provecho / Que aproveche Enjoy your meal
¿Está todo bien? Is everything OK?
¿Todo bien por aquí? Is everything OK around here?
¿Cómo está el / la...? How's the...?
Perdone. Ahora le traigo lo que pidió I'm sorry. I'll bring what you ordered right away
¿Les traigo algo más? Shall I bring anything else?
¿Han terminado ya? Are you done?
¿Van a tomar postre / café? Are you going to have dessert/coffee?

Sample Dialogue

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Waiter: ¿Todo bien por aquí? (Is everything OK around here?)

You: Sí. Está todo riquísimo, gracias. (It is. Everything’s delicious, thanks.)

Waiter: Perfecto, me alegro. ¿Está el pollo bien cocinado? (Perfect. I’m glad. Is the chicken cooked properly?)

You: Sí. Justo como me gusta. (It is. Just how I like it.)

Waiter: Excelente. ¿Les traigo algo más? (Excellent. Shall I bring anything else?)

You: Otra cerveza, por favor. Oh, y un poco de pan. (One more beer, please. Oh, and some bread.)

Waiter: Marchando. (Right away.)

6. Asking for the Check in Spanish

It’s time to pay and leave the restaurant.

Hopefully, you’ll be wanting to come back soon and put your Spanish to the test again!

What you can say:

La cuenta, por favor The check, please
¿Puede traer la cuenta, por favor? Could we get the check, please?
¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta / en efectivo? Can I pay by credit card/with cash?
Voy a pagar con tarjeta / en efectivo I'll pay by credit card/with cash
Volveremos seguro. / De seguro volvemos We'll be back for sure
Muchísimas gracias por todo Thank you so much for everything
Ha sido un placer It's been a pleasure

What you might hear:

Ahora / Ahorita se la traigo Right away
¿Cómo van a pagar? How are you paying?
Me alegro de que les haya gustado I'm glad you've liked it
Vuelvan pronto Come back soon
Esperamos volver a verlos pronto We hope to see you again soon
El placer ha sido mío / nuestro The pleasure has been mine/ours
Los esperamos We'll be waiting for you

Sample Dialogue

You: ¿Nos trae la cuenta, por favor? — Could we get the check, please?

Waiter: Ahora mismo. ¿Cómo van a pagar? — Right away. How are you paying?

You: Con tarjeta. — With credit card.

Waiter: Perfecto. Ya vuelvo. — Perfect. I’ll be right back. (Lit. I already come back.)


Waiter: Muchas gracias. Esperamos volver a verlos pronto. — Thank you very much. We hope to see you again soon.

You: ¡De seguro volvemos! Ha sido un placer. — We’ll be back for sure! It’s been a pleasure.

Waiter: El placer ha sido nuestro. Vuelvan pronto. — The pleasure has been ours. Come back soon.

You: ¡Hasta pronto! — See you soon!

Cultural Notes When Ordering Food in Spanish

A paella is presented to diners in a cast iron pan

  • There are several ways to refer to a waiter in each Spanish-speaking country. Sometimes, you can even use more than one word in the same country. Here you have some examples:

Camarero in Spain, Ecuador and Peru (rarely)

Mesero in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile (in a bar), Puerto Rico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru

Mesonero in Venezuela

Salonero in Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Mozo in Argentina, Uruguay and Peru

Garzón in Chile (in a restaurant)

  • Tipping (dar/dejar propina) can be a very delicate topic for some people. When traveling to a Spanish-speaking country there’s not an established percentage you have to tip, but the amount that’s normally accepted is 10% of the total value of the check.

    But remember that you’re not obligated to leave a tip anywhere! If the tip is compulsory, it’ll already be included in the check, but if it’s not, no one will tell you anything.

  • Pay special attention to your check. Some places add the tip (propina) or “service included” fee (servicio incluido) to the check automatically, so you’re not expected to add a tip on top of that unless you want to. If the check says servicio no incluido, the service fee hasn’t been included.
  • Just remember to be polite and say thank you. For waiters, being rude is much worse than not tipping!
  • Restaurants in Spanish-speaking countries are usually in no rush! Take your time ordering, eating and paying the bill. As long as you’re having a drink or dessert, your Spanish-speaking waiter will likely not mind you lingering at the table for some time after your meal. In fact, there’s even a word for it in Spain: sobremesa. This means, literally “over the table” and it’s the time when you talk, drink and hang out with whomever you had your meal with. 

A good way to pick up on more natural ways to order food in Spanish is to see it being done. For instance, the videos on FluentU give you a chance to see the language in context.

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FAQs for Ordering Food in Spanish

Three diners ordering drinks at the bar

How Do You Order Food for Takeout in Spanish?

If you want to take your food to-go at a Spanish restaurant, you’d say para llevar, which literally means “for taking.”

If you’re calling to order food and you want to specify it’s for you to pickup later, you can say Quiero pedir comida para llevar (I want to order food for takeout/to go).

What Is the Word to Order Food in Spanish?

The verb “to order” in Spanish is pedir. For example, Quisiera pedir comida, por favor means “I’d like to order food, please.”

How Do You Politely Order Food in Mexico?

If you want to sound more polite than yo quiero (I want), one of the politest ways you can order food in Mexico (and Spanish in general) is by saying me gustaría… (I’d like…) or quisiera… (I’d like…).

For example:

Me gustaría pedir el pollo con arroz, por favor. (I’d like to order the chicken with rice, please.)

Or you can simply say:

Quisiera el pollo con arroz, por favor. (I’d like the chicken with rice, please.)

How Do You Politely Order Food in Spain?

Ordering politely in Spain can be done the same way as in Mexico—by using me gustaría or quisiera (which also means “I’d like”).

You should also use the formal way of addressing the waiter, which is to use usted and its conjugations, especially if you’re at a fancy restaurant, or if the server is older than you.


See? That wasn’t hard at all!

You’ve managed to arrive at a restaurant, order food and drinks, chat with the waiter and pay like a boss. A Spanish boss.

Stay curious, my friend, and as always, happy learning, and keep eating!

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

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