Spanish for Foodies: Essential Vocabulary for Ordering Food at Restaurants

If you’re a foodie planning to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, you’ll want to know some essential Spanish vocabulary for ordering food at restaurants. While you may be familiar with some of the more common dishes and ingredients, there are many regional specialties and culinary terms that may be new to you. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to ordering food in Spanish, including essential vocabulary and phrases for communicating with waiters and chefs.

Introduction to Spanish Cuisine

Before diving into specific vocabulary, it’s important to understand some basics about Spanish cuisine. Spaniards love their food and eating is a central part of Spanish culture. Meals are often eaten family-style, with multiple dishes shared among the table. Spanish cuisine varies widely by region, with each region having its own distinct culinary traditions and specialties.

Some of the most famous Spanish dishes include paella (a rice dish with saffron and various meats and seafood), tortilla española (a potato and egg omelette), gazpacho (a cold tomato soup), and churros con chocolate (fried dough pastry served with hot chocolate).

Essential Vocabulary for Ordering Food at Restaurants

Basic Phrases and Courtesies

  • Hola (Hello)
  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Qué tal? (What’s up?)
  • Buenas tardes (Good afternoon)
  • Por favor (Please)
  • Gracias (Thank you)
  • De nada (You’re welcome)
  • ¿Hablas inglés? (Do you speak English?)

Ordering Food

  • Quiero (I want)
  • Me gustaría (I would like)
  • ¿Qué me recomienda? (What do you recommend?)
  • ¿Cuál es el plato del día? (What’s the dish of the day?)
  • ¿Tienen alguna especialidad de la casa? (Do you have any house specialties?)
  • ¿Puedo ver el menú? (Can I see the menu?)
  • Para mí, el… (For me, the…)
  • Voy a pedir el… (I’m going to order the…)
  • Me falta decidir entre… (I’m deciding between…)
  • ¿Puede repetir, por favor? (Can you repeat, please?)

Describing Food

  • Picante (Spicy)
  • Dulce (Sweet)
  • Salado (Salty)
  • Amargo (Bitter)
  • Ácido (Sour)
  • Fresco (Fresh)
  • Caliente (Hot)
  • Frío (Cold)
  • Cocido (Cooked)
  • Crudo (Raw)

Ordering Drinks

  • Quiero agua (I want water)
  • ¿Tienen refrescos? (Do you have soft drinks?)
  • Una cerveza, por favor (A beer, please)
  • Una copa de vino tinto/blanco/rosado (A glass of red/white/rosé wine, please)
  • Un chupito de tequila (A shot of tequila, please)
  • Un café (A coffee, please)
  • Un té (A tea, please)

Special Requests

  • Sin carne (Without meat)
  • Sin gluten (Gluten-free)
  • Sin lactosa (Lactose-free)
  • Soy alérgico/a a… (I’m allergic to…)
  • ¿Pueden hacerlo más picante/suave? (Can you make it spicier/milder?)
  • Quiero la ensalada sin cebolla/tomate/lechuga (I want the salad without onion/tomato/lettuce)
  • ¿Puedo cambiar el arroz por patatas? (Can I change the rice for potatoes)

 Paying the Bill

  • ¿La cuenta, por favor? (The bill, please?)
  • ¿Aceptan tarjeta de crédito? (Do you accept credit card?)
  • ¿Tienen cambio para billetes grandes? (Do you have change for big bills?)
  • La propina está incluida (The tip is included)
  • ¿Cuánto es en total? (How much is it in total?)
  • Gracias, aquí tiene la propina (Thank you, here’s the tip)

Regional Specialties

As mentioned earlier, Spanish cuisine varies widely by region, and it’s important to know some regional specialties when ordering food in Spain. Here are some examples:

  • Andalusia: Gazpacho, salmorejo (a thicker version of gazpacho), pescaíto frito (fried fish)
  • Basque Country: Pintxos (small tapas served on bread), bacalao al pil pil (cod cooked in garlic and olive oil), chuletón de buey (beef steak)
  • Catalonia: Pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), botifarra (a type of sausage), crema catalana (a dessert similar to crème brûlée)
  • Galicia: Pulpo a la gallega (octopus cooked with paprika and olive oil), empanada (a pie filled with meat or fish), tarta de Santiago (an almond cake)
  • Valencia: Paella valenciana (paella with rabbit and chicken), horchata (a sweet drink made from tiger nuts), buñuelos de calabaza (pumpkin fritters)


Ordering food in Spanish can be a delightful experience for foodies, and knowing some essential vocabulary and phrases will make your dining experience much smoother. Remember to be polite and courteous to your waiters and chefs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or make special requests. ¡Buen provecho!

In this video, we show you how to ask for the price and how to shop. A good complement to this entry. also you can visit this content

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