ordering food in spanish

Complete Guide on How to Order Food in Spanish: 100+ Must-know Phrases

Mastering Spanish food vocabulary is a necessary first step on your way to ordering food in Spanish.

But to have a basic conversation with your waiter, you’ll need to learn some Spanish phrases and expressions.

In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to order food in Spanish with over 100 must-know phrases, plus cultural notes and sample dialogues.


Ordering Food in Spanish: Quick Answer

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

While there are a few ways to begin your order, in Spanish, you can actually just go ahead and state what you want when the waiter indicates they’re ready to take your order.

In English we like to start by saying “could I have…” or “can I please order…” but in Spanish this is not necessary. For example, you may simply just say: El pollo asado, por favor (The roast chicken, please). 

But if you’re an English speaker, it might feel strange to order without some formalities leading into it—and in that case, you can use some of the phrases we shared above!

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

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 [number], por favorA table for [number], 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 favorThis 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 [number] minutos You have to wait around [number] 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 do around 7-8 p.m.

Make sure you get to know the locals’ eating habits and meal times beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises.

In some countries, it’s common for restaurants to have separate places for people who want to eat lunch or dinner and those who only want to have a drink.

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?)

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

Cultural Notes

There are various ways to refer to a waiter in each Spanish-speaking country and, in some instances, 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)

If memorizing six (and more) different ways to say “waiter” sounds daunting to you, I recommend picking one or two Spanish dialects you want to focus on. It’s good to recognize the other words, but if you have a favorite dialect, you’ll only need to use one or two yourself.

Also, use an immersion program like FluentU. With this language learning program you can watch tons of authentic Spanish videos (like music videos, vlogs and news reports) from different countries, allowing you to learn new words that are relevant to you and in the dialect(s) you choose.

Each video comes with interactive subtitles and other learning tools, so you learn much more effectively than when you go it alone.

Plus, it’s available as an iOS and Android, making it a flexible study option. 

Ordering Your 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)

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

What you might hear:

¿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.)


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.)

Cultural Notes

You’ll most likely be asked how you want the meat cooked if you order a meat dish.

You can say:

  • Poco hecho/Poco cocido — rare
  • Al punto — medium
  • Bien hecho/Muy hecho/Muy cocido — well-done

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 carta de postres? Do you have a dessert menu?
Estuvo todo perfecto Everything was perfect
Felicitaciones al chef Congratulations to the chef
El / la [food] está frío / fría The [food] is cold
Perdone, le había pedido... Excuse me, I ordered...
El / la [food] 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

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 [to hear]. 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./Coming up.)

Cultural Notes

When I say tortilla to any of my Spanish students, they all think I’m talking about the Mexican tortilla by default.

The funny thing is that for me as a Spaniard, tortilla first and foremost means a Spanish tortilla, not the Mexican thin bread.

So, if you travel to Spain, make sure you say tortilla española or tortilla mexicana depending on what you want to eat.

However, chances are you’ll only get Mexican tortillas in Spain if you go to a Mexican restaurant. Anywhere else, they’ll only have the Spanish ones.

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

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 compulsory percentage you have to tip, but the amount that’s normally accepted as a good tip is 10% of the total value of the check.

However, pay special attention to your check.

Some places add a tip (propina) or “service included” fee (servicio incluido) to the check automatically, so you’re not expected to add an additional tip to that unless you want to.

If the check says servicio no incluido, that means the service fee hasn’t been included in the check.

This is often a subtle way to remind you they’d like to get a tip.

Whatever you do, remember you’re not obligated to leave a tip anywhere.

If the tip is compulsory, it’ll be already included in the check, but if it’s not compulsory, then no one will tell you anything.

Just remember to be polite and say thank you. For waiters, being rude is much worse than not tipping!


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!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe