93 Spanish Phrases For Restaurant – Essential Expressions


Traveling abroad and not tasting the local food is a sin. 

Especially if you get to visit one of the Spanish speaking countries, which are famous for their delicious cuisine. 

Spanish tapas, Peruvian ceviche, Argentinian steak, Chilean empanadas…My mouth waters at the mere thought of all this yumminess. 

Ladies and gentlemen – we are eating out today! 

The Must-Know Spanish Phrases for Restaurant: 

  • 🇪🇸 un restaurante / un restorán -🇬🇧 a restaurant
  • 🇪🇸 la carta – 🇬🇧 the menu
  • 🇪🇸 una mesa para dos – 🇬🇧 a table for two
  • 🇪🇸 un camarero / una camarera – 🇬🇧 a waiter / a waitress
  • 🇪🇸 ¿Están listos para ordenar? – 🇬🇧 Are you ready to order?
  • 🇪🇸 Quiero… – 🇬🇧 I’ll have… (literally: I want…)
  • 🇪🇸 Un plato vegetariano – 🇬🇧 a vegetarian dish
  • 🇪🇸 Una copa de vino blanco – 🇬🇧 a glass of white wine
  • 🇪🇸 ¿Cómo le gusta la carne? – 🇬🇧 How do you like your meat?
  • 🇪🇸 ¿Algún acompañamiento? – 🇬🇧 Any side dish?
  • 🇪🇸 ¿Desea postre? – 🇬🇧 Would you like some dessert?
  • 🇪🇸 La cuenta, por favor – 🇬🇧 the bill /the check, please.
  • 🇪🇸 La propina no está incluida – 🇬🇧 The tip is not included. 

How to book a table in a restaurant in Spanish 

Making a reservation is always a good idea, especially if you are in a busy tourist spot or want to check out a trendy restaurant. 

Below you’ll find some useful phrases and typical questions you might get asked when booking a table. Please notice how most of them use common Spanish question words

🇪🇸 Quiero reservar una mesa, por favor.
🇬🇧 I’d like to book a table, please.

🇪🇸 ¿Para cuándo?
🇬🇧 For when?

🇪🇸 Para hoy a la hora de almuerzo, por favor.
🇬🇧 For today, lunchtime, please. 

🇪🇸 ¿Para cuántas personas?
🇬🇧 ¿For how many people?

🇪🇸 ¿A qué hora?
🇬🇧 What time?

🇪🇸 ¿A nombre de quién?
🇬🇧 Under what name? 

🇪🇸 Tenemos una reserva a nombre de John Smith.
🇬🇧 We have a reservation under the name of John Smith.

🇪🇸 Síganme, por favor.
🇬🇧 Please, follow me. 

🇪🇸 Lamentablemente, no hay mesas disponibles.
🇬🇧 Unfortunately, there are no tables available.

🇪🇸 Solo queda una mesa en el sector de los fumadores.
🇬🇧 There is only one table left in the smoking section. 

🇪🇸 La única disponibilidad que tengo es el jueves a las nueve de la noche.
🇬🇧 The only availability I have left is Thursday 9PM.

Mind you, both Spaniards and Latin Americans are famous for late dining! 

Make sure to review how to tell the time in Spanish, too. It might come in handy when making a reservation!

Basic objects you’ll find on a restaurant table, and what they are called in Spanish

Knowing how to name the typical objects you usually find on a restaurant table seems like a good idea. You never know – they might be missing, not very clean, etc.

  • 🇪🇸 un mantel – 🇬🇧 a tablecloth
  • 🇪🇸 una copa  – 🇬🇧 a wine glass 
  • 🇪🇸 un vaso – 🇬🇧 a glass 
  • 🇪🇸 una taza – 🇬🇧 a cup 
  • 🇪🇸 un plato – 🇬🇧 a plate / a dish
  • 🇪🇸 los cubiertos – 🇬🇧 silverware / cutlery
  • 🇪🇸 una cuchara – 🇬🇧 a spoon
  • 🇪🇸 un tenedor – 🇬🇧 a fork
  • 🇪🇸 un cuchillo  – 🇬🇧 a knife
  • 🇪🇸 una servilleta – 🇬🇧 a napkin
  • 🇪🇸 un salero – 🇬🇧 a salt shaker
  • 🇪🇸 un pimentero – 🇬🇧 a pepper shaker
  • 🇪🇸 aceite de oliva – 🇬🇧 olive oil
  • 🇪🇸 vinagre balsámico – 🇬🇧 balsamic vinegar

The last two items sound almost the same in English and Spanish, don’t they? 

A big number of cognates – or friends – is one reason Spanish is such an easy language to learn.

Just a couple of tips before we move on:

  1. In Latin America, it is common to get complimentary bread rolls, butter, and a sample size of local bruschetta – like toppings or sauces (pebre, chimichurri, and such).
  1. Typical salad seasoning you get offered is freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can ask for it at no extra cost), olive oil, and salt.
  1. Drinking tap water in Latin America is not recommended, mainly if your stomach is not used to it. Instead, ask for bottled water (still or sparkling) or – my absolute favorite – a fresh fruit smoothie. 

Inquiring about the restaurant menu in Spanish

Have you ever ordered food while abroad without being sure what it was? I have. Quite a few times 😉

Being self-conscious about your vocabulary limitations and shy to speak Spanish in public can sometimes cost you dearly and leave you face to face with a dish you unwillingly ordered. 

🇪🇸 Test Your Spanish Knowledge 🇪🇸

Better get ready ahead of time, work a little on your food-related vocabulary, and learn how to inquire about food in Spanish: 

A: ¿Qué trae este plato?
B: Vegetales salteados, arroz y pollo frito. 
A: What is in this dish?
B: Sautéd vegetables, rice, and fried chicken. 

A: ¿Este plato tiene glúten / soya / nueces? Soy alérgico.
B: Lamentablemente sí, tiene.
A: Does this dish have any gluten/soy/nuts in it? I’m allergic. 
B: I’m afraid it does. 

A: ¿Tienen algún plato vegetariano?
B: Si, están marcados con el símbolo de una hoja. 
A: Do you have any vegetarian dishes?
B: Yes, they are marked with a leaf symbol. 

A: ¿Cuál es la especialidad de la casa?
B: El “Sueño del Pescador” es muy rico. 
A: What’s the specialty of the house?
B: “Fisherman’s Dream” is really tasty. 

A: ¿Cuál es la sopa del día?
B: Una crema de setas silvestres con crutones. 
A: What is the soup of the day?
B: A wild mushroom cream with croutons. 

A: Queremos comer un plato típico. ¿Qué nos recomienda?
B: Deberían probar…
A: We’d like to have a typical dish. What do you recommend?
B: You should try… 

How to order food and drinks in a restaurant – essential Spanish phrases 

So, we’ve been seated, handed the menu, all our doubts and questions clarified. 

I hope you’re getting hungry.

Let’s order, shall we?

First, the questions we might get asked by the waiter/waitress:

🇪🇸 ¿Algún aperitivo / bajativo?
🇬🇧 Any aperitif / after-meal drink?

🇪🇸 ¿Le /  les gustaría alguna entrada? (le refers to usted and les refers to ustedes.) 
🇬🇧 Would you like any starter?

🇪🇸 ¿Están listos para ordenar?
🇬🇧 Are you ready to order?

🇪🇸 ¿Cómo le gusta la carne, señor?
🇬🇧 How do you like your meat, sir?

  • 🇪🇸 bien cocida – 🇬🇧 well done
  • 🇪🇸 tres cuartos – 🇬🇧 medium well
  • 🇪🇸 término medio  – 🇬🇧 medium
  • 🇪🇸 a punto– 🇬🇧 rare

🇪🇸 ¿Con qué le gustaría acompañar su pescado, dama?
🇬🇧 What side dish would you like for your fish, madam?

🇪🇸 ¿Algo para tomar / beber?
🇬🇧 Anything to drink?

  • 🇪🇸 una copa de vino tinto / blanco – 🇬🇧 a class of red / white wine
  • 🇪🇸 un vaso de agua con gas / sin gas – 🇬🇧 a glass of sparkling / flat water
  • 🇪🇸 un vaso de coca-cola con hielo – 🇬🇧 a glass of coke with ice
  • 🇪🇸 una cerveza– 🇬🇧 a beer

🇪🇸 ¿Le traigo azúcar o endulzante?
🇬🇧 Would you like me to get you sugar or sweetener?

🇪🇸 Le ofrezco un bajativo? Corre por cuenta de la casa.
🇬🇧 Can I offer you an after-meal drink? It’s on the house. 

Now that we can understand what the waiter is asking, let’s see what we can say in reply:

🇪🇸 Dénos un par de minutos más, por favor.
🇬🇧 Give us a couple of more minutes, please.

🇪🇸 Tráiganos una tabla de queso, por favor.
🇬🇧 Please bring us a cheese platter, please.

🇪🇸 Quiero una ensalada de atún, por favor. 
🇬🇧 I’ll have a tuna salad, please. 

🇪🇸 Un bife con papas fritas, por favor. 
🇬🇧 A steak with French fries/chips, please. 

🇪🇸 De plato de fondo, tráigame una porción de la pasta Alfredo, por favor.
🇬🇧 As my main course, please bring me a portion of the Alfredo pasta, please. 

🇪🇸 ¿Qué vino tiene?
🇬🇧 What wine do you have?

🇪🇸 ¿Tiene jugos naturales / frescos?
🇬🇧 Do you have natural / fresh juices?

🇪🇸 Tráigame la carta de nuevo para ver los postres, por favor.
🇬🇧 Please bring me the menu again to see what desserts you have.

🇪🇸 ¿Nos puede traer más vino, por favor?
🇬🇧 Can you get us more wine, please?

🇪🇸 ¿Puede empacar el resto de mi plato para llevar, por favor?
🇬🇧 Can you box the rest of my dish to take, please?

🇪🇸 Vamos a compartir un trozo de la torta de chocolate.
🇬🇧 We’re going to share a slice of the chocolate cake. 

Pay attention: un trozo de la torta. Spanish nouns have genders. They can be masculine and feminine. Confusing them is one of the common mistakes English speakers make in Spanish

Praising food and service – essential Spanish restaurant phrases

You’ve had your starter, main course and dessert, and now you are sipping a “bajativo” made of local herbs feeling all mellow and happy?

Time to let your waiter know how much you’ve appreciated your food and the service.

  • 🇪🇸 muy rico – 🇬🇧 very tasty
  • 🇪🇸 delicioso – 🇬🇧 delicious
  • 🇪🇸 exquisito – 🇬🇧 exquisite

🇪🇸 ¡Felicitaciones para el chef!
🇬🇧 Congratulations to the chef!

🇪🇸 ¡Excelente servicio!
🇬🇧 Excellent service!

🇪🇸 La mejor carne que me he comido!
🇬🇧 The best meat I’ve ever eaten.

🇪🇸 ¡Volveremos seguro!
🇬🇧 We will surely come back!

Spanish phrases for dealing with problems in a restaurant

Eating out can be such a wonderful experience, right? Delicious food, impeccable service, comfortable and tastefully decorated place. 


it doesn’t always turn out that great, does it?

Sometimes things go slightly wrong. Or terribly wrong. 

And what was supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience turns into a huge disappointment.

How to deal with restaurant problems and inconveniences in Spanish? Have a look at some of the essential phrases: 

🇪🇸 Disculpe, hay un problema con mi plato. 
🇬🇧 Excuse me; there is a problem with my dish.

🇪🇸 Señor, llevamos media hora esperando que nos atiendan. 
🇬🇧 Sir, we’ve been waiting for half an hour, and nobody has attended us. 

🇪🇸 Mi cuchillo está sucio. ¿Me lo puede cambiar?
🇬🇧 My knife is dirty. Can you change it, please?

🇪🇸 Me faltan los cubiertos.
🇬🇧 My silverware / cutlery is missing. 

🇪🇸 Pedí mi carne bien cocida y está a punto. 
🇬🇧 I asked for my meat to be well done, but it is rare. 

🇪🇸 Se ha equivocado con mi plato. Pedí papas cocidas y no fritas.
🇬🇧 You’ve made a mistake with my dish. I asked for boiled potatoes, not fries / chips.

🇪🇸 Mi comida está fría.
🇬🇧 My food is cold. 

🇪🇸 Lo siento, está demasiado salado / picante.
🇬🇧 I’m sorry, it is too salty / spicy. 

🇪🇸 Quisiera hablar con el supervisor / el gerente. 
🇬🇧 I’d like to speak to the supervisor / the manager.

🇪🇸 Tengo una queja.
🇬🇧 I have a complaint.

🇪🇸 ¡Pésimo servicio!
🇬🇧 What terrible service!

🇪🇸 Hay un error en la cuenta.
🇬🇧 There is a mistake in the bill. 

🇪🇸 Me está cobrando dos copas de vino, y solo tomé una. 
🇬🇧 You are charging me for two glasses of wine, and I only had one. 

Are you feeling frustrated? Angry? Disappointed? Learn how to name your feelings in Spanish and make your complaints even more powerful. 

How to ask for a check / bill in Spanish

There isn’t much to say here. The most essential restaurant phrase in Spanish to remember when paying is:

🇪🇸 ¿Nos trae la cuenta, por favor?
🇬🇧 Can you bring us the check / bill, please?

You’re not sure how much to tip? Both in Spain and Latin America, it is customary to leave 10%. When in Chile, check your bill carefully – the tip might have been already included in your total!

And remember, if you want to learn additional expressions related to buying things, payment methods and such, read my post on shopping in Spanish

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Joanna Lupa
Joanna Lupa
Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.

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