When traveling to a new country it always helps when you can speak like the locals. Knowing another language changes your world. What I came to realize while living in Spain is that the menus in English are usually higher in prices than those in Spanish. To avoid such scam it pays off to know some basic Spanish words. But how do you order in Spanish like a local? Don’t fret! I’m here to guide you. If the cat catches your tongue while ordering food in Spanish you can always resort to pointing at the menu.  This has awkwardly worked for me.

Some quick things to note: This guide is based on the Spanish from Spain, however, most of the words can be applied in other Spanish speaking countries. In the Spanish language, there are two main ways to order,  The Formal way or the Informal way. Below I show you, how to respond in both ways. It is so important to note that saying please every time like we are used to in English is not necessarily important to mention in Spanish. Now that doesn’t mean that you are rude, your tone and how you address the person is what can be indicated as rude or not. In replace of please, a local would say cuando puedas, meaning when you can.  You will see how this is used in the examples below.  If you do say please, the colloquial way to say it is por fa (usually informal) instead of the normal por favor.  I’ll advise you to open google translate on a new tab to hear how some of these words are pronounced. Now let’s proceed, shall we……


Ordering Food in Spanish: The Formal Way

Ordering Food in Spanish:Spanish Food

Ordering Food in Spanish- Paella

Usually in a fancy restaurant. The waiter or waitress addressess you using the formal “you” (le/ Usted).  You usually respond with, I would like to or could you ….  The Waiter/Waitress fends for the customer in most occassions. 

Things the Camarero/Camarera- Waiter/Waitress would say: 

  • Hola– Hello
    • Buenos días– Good Morning
    • Buenas tardes– Good Afternoon
  • Cómo puedo ayudarle?– How can I help you?
  • Muy bien, acompáñeme – Very good, come with me  OR Sígame– Follow me
  • 1 person: Qué le gustaría tomar?-  What would you like to have? OR  Qué desea tomar?  OR  Qué le pongo?–  What would you like to take?
    • 1 + people: Qué os gustaría tomar– What would you (all/both) like to take OR  Qué os pongo– What would you (all/both) like to take?
  • Y usted, señor (m)/señora (f)/ señorita (younger f) qué le gustaría tomar?– And you, sir/madam/miss?
  • Si no has/habéis probado el pollo asado, os lo recomiendo– If you/you(both/all) haven’t tried the grilled chicken, I recommend it to you.
  • Marchando– Coming right up!
  • ¡Que disfrute la comida/ Que aproveche!– Enjoy the food!
  • Cómo va todo– How is everything going ( as in the food?)
  • Por supuesto– Of course
  • Hasta Luego– Bye


How you should respond:

  • Hola– Hello
    • Buenos días/ Buenas tardes– Good Morning/Good Afternoon
  • Tengo una reserva para dos –  I have a reservation for two
  • No sé que pedir– I don’t know what to order
  • Perdona, me traes/ nos trae la carta, por favor– Excuse me can you bring me/bring us the menu, please
  • ¿Qué me recomienda/ Qué nos recomienda?– What do you recomend me/ What do you recommend us?
  • 1 person ordering: Me gustaría tomar unas verduras y botella de agua–  I would like to take some vegetables and a bottle of water
    • 2 people ordering the same thing: Nos gustaría tomar pollo asado– We would like to have grilled chicken
  • Gracias– Thank You
  • La comida está muy bien/ La comida está muy buena– The food is very good
    • Estaba todo buenísimo– Everything was very good
  • Me podrías traer la cuenta/ Me gustaría la cuenta por favor–  Could you bring me/ I would like the bill, please
  • Adiós/ Hasta Luego– Good Bye!




Ordering Food in Spanish: The Informal Way

Ordering Food in Spanish: Spanish Tapas

Ordering Food in Spanish- 100 Montaditos

Waiters/Waitresses are usually in a hurry. You have to be direct and a bit loud especially during the peak hours as there would be many customers there.  Waiter/Waitress usually addresses you with the informal “you” (tu) except of course you are an older person. Customer fends for their own seat.- story about this coming soon! 

Things the  Camarero/Camarera- Waiter/Waitress would say: 

  • Qué quieres?– What do you want?
  • Qué vas a tomar?– What are you going to have? This usually insinuates, what would you like to drink?
  • Qué vas a comer?– What are you going to eat?
  • Dime–  Tell me/ Say it
  • Algo más?–  Anything else?
  • Vale, ahora vengo – Alright I’ll be right back
  • Aquí tienes tu comida vegeteriana– Here is your vegetarian food
  • ¡Que aproveche!– Enjoy! It is equivalent to Bon apetite
  • Qué tal la comida?–  How is the food?  OR Todo bien?- Everything going well? (In an extremely rare situation the waiter in an informal setting asks you this. Except of course you got along really well with him/her)
  • Hasta luego/ Adiós– Bye


How you should respond:

  • ¡Oiga!, ¡Oye!–  Emphatic Hey!
  • Una mesa para dos– A table for two
  • Puedo ver la carta– Can I see the menu?
  • Tienes comida vegetariana/halal?– Do you have vegetarian food/ halal food
  • Ponme una botella de agua/ A mí me pones un zumo/jugo de naranja– Give me a bottle of water/ Give me orange juice
  • Dame un solomillo de ternera, por fa– Can you give me a beef stirloin?, please
  • Me das un cafe con leche– Can you give me coffee and milk?
  • Me traes algunos churros, cuando puedas?– Can you bring me churros, when you can?
  • Es muy bueno, es para chuparse los dedos– It’s really good, Finger licking good
  • Gracias– Thank you.
  • La cuenta, cuando puedas– The bill, when you can OR me das la cuenta– Can you give me the bill?
  • Hasta luego– Bye

How to ask what’s in the food

La croqueta lleva cerdo?– Does the croqueta have pork in it?

La Margarita tiene alcohol?– Does the Margarita have alcohol in it?


Key Words

  • Comer– To eat
  • Tomar– To take/ To have or could mean to drink
  • Beber– To drink
  • Para llevar–   To take out
  • Camarero/Camarera– Waiter/ Waitress
  • Cerdo– Pork
  • Ternera– Beef
    • muy poco hecho (a)– Rare
    • Al punto– Medium rare
    • Muy hecho (a)/ Bien cocido– Well done
  • Pollo– Chicken
  • Vegetariano(a)– Vegetarian
  • Verduras– Vegetable
  • Alcohol– Alcohol
  • La cuenta– The bill
  • Vaso de agua– Literally means a glass of water but in Spain, it colloquially means tap water and it is free!!!!
  • Botella de agua– Bottle water. Not free




That’s how you order in Spanish folks!

Thank you for reading, I hope you learned a thing or two about ordering food in Spanish. 

Check out the Video version of this article: How not to order like a Guiri or Gringo

like this post? pin it or save it for later!

How to order like a local- Pinterest