Spanish: Top 10 useful phrases for eating out
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Here are ten useful phrases for when you're at a restaurant in a Spanish speaking country.
1. Firstly, you might like to say hello and ask if they have a table available for the number of people in your group:
Buenas tardes. / Buenas noches. ¿Tiene una mesa para dos (/tres/cuatro/cinco)?
Good afternoon. / Good evening. Do you have a table for two (/three/four/five)?
Note that if you're at a restaurant at lunch time or for an early dinner, you would say "buenas tardes" but by dinner time (around 8pm), you should say "buenas noches".
2. Similarly, you might want to ask more specifically if they have a table free outside, inside or by the window:
¿Tiene una mesa afuera/adentro/al lado de la ventana?
Do you have a table outside/inside/next to the window?
Once they show you to a table, you could reply with "Está bien" for "It's fine" or "Está perfecto" for "It's perfect" and don't forget to say "Gracias!" for "Thank you!".
3. If however you are calling up in advance in order to make a reservation for a table, you may want to say:
Quisiera hacer una reserva para las ocho y media para dos/tres/cuatro personas.
I would like to make a reservation for half eight for two/three/four people.
The person on the other end of the phone might then ask "¿Bajo el nombre de quién?" meaning "under what name?" to which you would respond by giving your name for the booking.
4. Next, and very importantly, vegetarian diets are not that common in many parts of Spain and Latin America and so it's a good idea to try explaining right from the beginning when you sit down and receive the menu. Some useful phrases may be:
Soy vegetariano/a. Soy vegano/a. No como carne ni pescado (ni productos de origen animal como por ejemplo los huevos, la leche, la nata).
I'm vegetarian. I'm vegan. I don't eat meat nor fish (nor animal products such as eggs, milk, cream).
Note the different male and female endings for vegetariano/a and vegano/a. This means that if you are a male speaking, you would say "soy vegetariano" or "soy vegano", whereas if you are a female speaking, you would say "soy vegetariana" or "soy vegana".
5. Similarly, you will want to be able to say if you have any important allergies:
Tengo alérgia a (las nueces).
I am allergic to (nuts).
6. For drinks, you might want to order...
Una botella de agua mineral / agua sin gas / agua con gas / una cerveza / vino blanco / vino tinto / vino rosado / un zumo de naranja.
A bottle of mineral water / still water / sparkling water / a beer / white wine / red wine / rosé wine / an orange juice.
7. If you can't decide what to eat and you would like the waiter's recommendations, you can ask:
¿Qué me recomienda?
What would you recommend?
8. When you decide what you would like to eat, a useful phrase for ordering is:
For example, "para mí un zumo de naranja" or "para mí la paella de marisco".
9. And finally if you'd like dessert, you should be ready to recognise the following question...
¿Quieren postre? ¡Sí!
Would you like dessert? Yes!
10. At the end of the meal, use the following phrase to ask for the bill:
¿Me trae la cuenta? Gracias.
Could you bring me the bill? Thanks.
With just these few key phrases, you can make it through a whole restaurant experience speaking only Spanish. Why not give it a go next time the opportunity arises!
As always, feel free to leave me any comments and queries!