Spanish for restaurants

learn travel spanish for restaurants

Welcome to our free, to-the-point guide to Spanish for restaurants!

Going on a beach holiday to Spain or Mexico this summer? Or maybe you’re a more adventurous type and are planning to go backpacking  in Peru or Bolivia?

Whichever your destination, you’re almost certainly going to eat out at some stage, whether it’s in a swanky restaurant or a ramshackle beach-side cafe.

Here at Hablarama, we’ve prepared this simple guide to the top 50 Spanish phrases you’ll need in order to make yourself understood in a restaurant or bar. We’ve also included audio files so that you can hear the correct pronunciation.

Essential Vocabulary

Let’s start off with a look at some essential Spanish vocabulary.

  • Mesa – table
  • Restaurante – restaurant
  • Camarero – waiter
  • Camarera – waitress

Watch out for the difference between the Spanish words “menú” and “carta”:

  • La carta – the menu
  • Menú – fixed price menu / set menu
  • Primer plato – starter
  • Entrante – starter
  • Segundo plato – main course
  • Postre – dessert

Common drinks:

  • Vino blanco – white wine
  • Vino tinto – red wine
  • Cerveza – beer
  • Agua – water
  • Agua con gas – sparkling water

First things first

Ask for a table:

  • Una mesa para cuatro, por favor.
    A table for 4 please.

Tell them who many of you there are:

  • Somos 5.
    There’s 5 of us.

If you’re arriving at the restaurant and you’re a bit choosy about where you sit, you’ll find these phrases are pretty essential:

  • Nos gustaría sentarnos en la terraza si es posible.
    We’d like to sit on the terrace please.
  • ¿Podemos sentarnos dentro?
    Can we sit inside?
  • ¿Tienen una mesa en la terraza?
    Do you have a table on the terrace?

If you’re passing by to reserve a table, you’ll need:

  • ¿Podemos reservar una mesa para 5, para las 21:00?
    Could we reserve a table for 5 people, for 21:oo?

Asking for recommendations:

  • ¿Que nos recomendaría?
    What would you recommend?
  • ¿Cuáles son las especialidades de la zona?
    What are the local specialities?
  • ¿Nos podría recomendar un vino de la zona?
    Could you recommend us a local wine?

Special needs?

  • Tengo alergia a los nueces.
    I’m allergic to nuts.
  • Tengo intolerancia a la lactosa.
    I have lactose intolerance.
  • ¿Tiene acceso para silla de ruedas?
    Do you have wheelchair access?

Paying the bill

  • La cuenta, por favor.
    The bill, please.
  • Tráiganos la cuenta, por favor
    Could you bring us the bill, please?
  • ¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de crédito?
    Can I pay by credit card?
  • ¿Está incluida la propina?
    Is the tip included?
  • Creo que la cuenta es incorrecta.
    I think the bill/check is wrong.

Waiter phrases

It’s clearly pretty important to be able to understand what the waiter is saying to you. Here are a few questions you may get asked when you arrive at the restaurant:

  • ¿Dónde quieren sentarse?
    Where would you like to sit?
  • ¿Cuántos son?
    How many of there are you?
  • ¿Fumador o no fumador?
    Smoking or non-smoking?
  • ¿Quieren la carta en inglés o en español?*
    Would you like the menu in English or in Spanish?*
  • ¿Una mesa para 6?
    A table for 6?

*If you don’t understand this question, chances are the waiter will shrug his shoulders, let out a little sigh and just hand you the menu in English.

Taking the order

When taking your order, the waiter/waitress will invariably use one or more of the following questions:

  • ¿Qué quieren?
    What do you want?*
  • ¿Qué quieren tomar?
    What do you want to have (to drink)?
  • ¿Vino tinto o vino blanco?
    Red wine or white wine?
  • ¿Quieren café?
    Would you like coffee?
  • ¿Quieren postre?
    Would you like dessert?
  • ¿Ya están?
    Are you ready (to order)?
  • ¿Saben lo que quieren pedir?
    Do you know what you would like to order?
  • ¿Ya saben?
    Do you know (what you would like to order)?

* Spanish can often seem very direct when compared to English, but don’t be offended!  Spanish-speakers like to get to the point quickly.  In any event, waiters should use the ‘usted’ form of verbs when talking to diners.  This is their way of being polite.

Asking about preferences

A decent waiter should take the time to ask you what you like before giving recommendations:

  • ¿Les gusta el vino tinto?
    Do you like red wine?
  • ¿Les gusta el chorizo?
    Do you like chorizo?*
  • ¿Conocen el pan con tomate?
    Do you know bread with tomatoes?**

* A spicy sausage
**A speciality in Catalonia. If you’re in Barcelona or the Costa Brava you’ll almost certainly come across this popular side dish.

You might also come across these waiter/waitress phrases:

  • ¿Me lo puedo llevar?
    Can I take this?
  • Les traigo uno nuevo.
    I’ll bring you a new one.
  • Les traigo otro vaso.
    I’ll bring you another glass.
  • Les traigo otro plato.
    I’ll bring you another plate.

Paying the bill

  • ¿Les traigo la cuenta?
    Shall I bring you the bill/check?
  • ¿La cuenta?
    (Would you like) the bill/check?

You’ll also hear the following phrase a lot in smaller Spanish restaurants:

  • No aceptamos tarjetas de crédito.
    We don’t accept credit cards.

If they do accept credit cards, hopefully you won’t hear:

  • La tarjeta ha sido rechazada.
    Your card has been declined.

Typical Spanish foods

We’ve prepared a giant (1000px x 3000px) jpeg image with the Spanish names for many different types of food (comida).

food names in spanish

Not sure how to pronounce these words?  Our first class on Spanish pronunciation is coming soon. Stay tuned folks!