Essential Spanish Chunks to Order in a Restaurant like a LATINO INSIDER

Order in a restaurant in Spanish like a Real LATINO INSIDER

Hola, me gustaría el filete de pollo a la plancha y una copa de vino tinto. Gracias. (Hi, I would like the grilled chicken fillet and a glass of red wine. Thank you.)

Congratulations! You just ordered food in a restaurant… like a true textbook! Don’t worry, everybody understood you. 

But wouldn’t it be nicer to actually say the things native Spanish speakers would say in a restaurant? To be a true Latino insider? 

I’m Spring Spanish teacher, Maura, and I will now teach you Spanish chunks that will make you sound like a true Latino in the restaurant.

1. Reservaciones (Reservations)

So, you might have seen in the textbooks that we say things like: Por favor, quisiera hacer una reserva — o reservación — para cinco personas. (I would like to make a reservation for 5 people, please.) 

But, do you know what to say when you actually get to the restaurant? Here are a couple of options you could use to let them know you have made a reservation:

  • Tengo una reserva o una reservación a nombre de… (I have a reservation under the name of…) then you say the name.  
  • Mesa para cinco a nombre de… (Table for 5 under the name of…) You could start like this, just saying “table for 5” and then add the name. Or:
  • Maura, mesa para cinco (Maura, table for 5): You could start with the name and just leave it there or add the number of people as well. 

Yo, personalmente, tiendo a hacer esto y sólo decir el nombre porque normalmente los anfitriones están ocupados, el lugar es ruidoso, no hay que acercarse demasiado por el Covid, y en definitiva, sólo necesitan saber el nombre. (I, personally, tend to do this and just say the name because usually the hosts are busy, the place is loud, you shouldn’t get too close because of Covid, and ultimately, they just need to know the name.)

2. Estamos esperando o pensando (We are waiting or thinking) 

Next stage. You are already sitting at the table. The waiter comes to ask if you’d like to start ordering something, but you are not ready. 

Si esto se debe a que todavía estas esperando a alguien, puedes decir: (If this is because you’re still waiting for someone, you can say:) 

ACTOR 1
Estamos esperando, para variar.
(We’re waiting, for a change.)

Si todavía estás revisando el menú: (If you’re still going through the menu:) 

ACTOR 1
Estamos pensando, gracias
(We’re thinking, thanks.)

And that’s it! You can add a gracias (thank you) if you want to be polite, which you should. But that’s all. It’s a very typical scenario both for waiters and customers, so no further explanation needed. 

Chunk alert!

Para variar is one of those chunks I never hear Spanish learners use and that you should certainly have in your pocket. It requires real insider knowledge. It translates to: (to vary). Pero lo que realmente significa es exactamente lo contrario. (But, what it actually means is exactly the opposite.) O sea, implica el uso de sarcasmo necesariamente. (That is, it necessarily involves the use of sarcasm.) 

Si dices: “Estamos esperando, para variar”, se entenderá inmediatamente que no es una variación en lo absoluto tener que esperar por esa persona sino, mas bien, un hábito. (If you say: “We are waiting, for a change”, it will be immediately understood that it is not a variation at all to have to wait for that person but, rather, a habit.)

Of course, that means you’re sarcastically complaining a bit. So that you don’t have to complain about missing out on this inside knowledge, why don’t you check the link in the description and download our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit? ¡Contiene los chunks más utilizados por los nativos del español! (It contains the chunks most frequently used by native Spanish speakers!)

3. ¿Tú qué prefieres? (What do you prefer?)

Being friendly and close with the waiter or waitress is very normal. So, instead of using a more formal: ¿Usted qué me recomienda? (What do you recommend?), you can try saying: 

ACTOR 1
¿Tú qué prefieres?
(What do you prefer?)

Another one could be: 

ACTOR 1
¿A ti qué te gusta más? 
(What do you like the most?)

Watch until the end if you want to know the chunks that talk about the food you eat at the restaurant.

4. ¿Eso con qué viene? (What does that come with?)

I’m not even sure what textbooks would tell you to say, but just saying this referring to a dish you’re discussing with the waiter or just pointing at it on the menu will suffice. 

ACTOR 1
¿Eso con qué viene?
(What does that come with?)

ACTOR 2
Ensalada o papas.
(Salad or potatoes.)

It’s usually salad or potatoes because, let’s face it, that’s a commonality in America. America means the continent, by the way. 

Also, if you want to ask for something extra, not on the menu, like a portion of French fries on the side, this is what you’d say:

ACTOR 1
Genial, la ensalada y una ración de papas fritas aparte, por fa.
(Great, salad, and a portion of French fries on the side, please.)

You can change papas fritas (French fries) for anything else, just make sure to say una ración aparte (a portion on the side).

5. Aperitivos (Appetizers)

If there’s anything that can help you break free from the shackles of textbook Spanish, is accepting the fact that Spanish is a super rich, yummy language that has multiple flavors. 

This tends to mean we have many different words for the same thing. Aperitivo es una de ellas (Appetizer is one of them). Puedes usarla y se entenderá perfectamente, pero casi nadie los llama así. (You can use it, and it will be perfectly understood, but almost nobody calls them that.) Aquí estan algunas de las alternativas y sus países según mi investigación: (Here are some of the alternatives and their countries according to my research:)

  • Pasapalo: Venezuela
  • Pasabocas: Colombia
  • Picoteo: Chile
  • Boquitas: El Salvador

And, for Mexico, we’re going to ask Paulisima. 

¡Gracias, nena! We are many more, so just keep an ear out for how the natives say it wherever you are. 

6. La carne (The meat)

This works exactly the same. We do not have just one way to refer to how meat is cooked, and that’s the most important thing I’m teaching you in this section. 

Certain commonalities can be found, though. For instance:

Blue rare, rare and medium rare: A esto suelen corresponderles colores en español. (This usually corresponds to colors in Spanish.) Como azul, rojo o rosado. (Like blue, red, or pink.) 

Medium, medium well, well done: En español también solemos usar “término medio”, para el medio. (In Spanish, we also use “medium finish”, for medium cooked.) Luego varía entre las palabras tres cuartos, hecho, bien hecho o bien cocido. (It then varies between the words three-quarters, done, well done, or well cooked.)

Bottom line, either ask around before or talk to the waiter. Es más que común no saber con exactitud debido a la cantidad de variaciones que tenemos para ello, así que ni te preocupes. (It's more than common not to know exactly because of how many variations we have for it, so don’t even worry about it.)

7. Preferencias (Preferences)

There are a few things that are quite common to have either preferences or requirements about. Like allergies, being vegetarian or vegan. Also, when to bring certain things. In this section, we’ll go over them.

Alergias (Allergies). Digamos que tengo alergia a las nueces. (Let's say I am allergic to nuts.) Podría decir: (I could say:)

ACTOR 1
¿Esto tiene nueces? Porque soy alérgica.
(Does this have nuts in it? Because I am allergic.)

Or

ACTOR 1
Soy alérgica a las nueces, así que no puede llevar nada en lo absoluto.
(I'm allergic to nuts, so there can’t be any in it at all.)

Tener y llevar (Have and carry) are the verbs you’d use in Spanish to refer to what the food contains. Also, don’t hesitate to be emphatic about it. 

Comida vegana o vegetariana (Vegetarian or vegan food): This isn’t as part of the mainstream as it would be in North America, so don’t trust the word itself. Fully explain what that means. Like this:

ACTOR 1
Soy vegana, así que no como nada que provenga de animales. Ni huevo, ni leche, ni mantequilla. 
(I'm vegan, so I don't eat anything that comes from animals. No eggs, no milk, no butter.)

Cuando traer algo (When to bring something): It is quite common to ask to bring the drinks with the food, meaning, the main dish, and for that you can say:

ACTOR 1
Quisiéramos una botella de vino tinto, pero porfa tráelo con la comida.
(We would like a bottle of red wine, but please bring it with the meal.)

8. Sobre la comida (About the food)

Everything’s about the food, right? Let’s go over some of the most common situations you could run into.

¿Me traes un poco de…? (Could I have some…?): This is what you could use any time you need a little bit more of anything. Make sure to use a question tone. Like this:

ACTOR 1
Me traes un poco de sal, ¿porfa? Y hielo, y servilletas, y limón. 
(Could I have some salt, please?. Andi ice, and napkins, and lime.)

¡Está buenísimo! (It’s so good!): Sometimes the food is amazing, and we love been emphatic about things like that, so you can use está buenísimo (it’s so good) as well as: 

ACTOR 1
Está increíble. Está delicioso. Está de muerte. Está excelente.
(It’s incredible. It’s delicious. It's to die for. It’s excellent.)

¿Quieres probar? (Would you like a taste?): If the food is really good, we will definitely share amongst everyone on the table. Es muy normal pasarse los platos o meter el tenedor en el plato de la otra persona. (It’s very normal to pass the plates or get your fork into someone else’s plate.) Let me know in the comments if this is common for you as well. If it’s super good, you could even say: 

ACTOR 1
Tienes que probar esto.
(You have to try this.) 

As you can see, I’m not asking. I’m straight telling them. 

Estoy full (I’m full): Again, if the food was incredible, chances are you are super full. Here are three more choices to refer to this:

ACTOR 1
No puedo más. Estoy que reviento. Me muero.
(I can't anymore. I’m about to explode. I could die.) 

¿Me lo pones para llevar? (Could I have it to go?): This is what you would say if you’re que revientas (about to explode) but there’s still food on the table. Just, again, make sure to say this with a question tone. 

ACTOR 1
¿Me lo pones para llevar, porfis?
(Could you make it to go, please?) 

9. Pagar (Paying)

Ok, let’s look at two different scenarios here that probably aren’t covered in the textbooks. 

Splitting the bill: You would just need to say: vamos a dividir la cuenta (we’re going to split the bill) to let them know. Use: cóbrame (charge me) to say how much to charge your card with. And cuanto falta o queda (how much is left?) to ask how much else needs to be paid. 

ACTOR 1
Vamos a dividir la cuenta. ¿Cuánto queda? Vale, porfa cóbrame los veinte.
(We’re going to split the bill. How much is left? Ok, please charge me the 20.) 

Leaving the tip: sometimes it gets tricky because you don’t have cash, and you’re not sure how it works, so I always make it a thing to directly ask: ¿Te puedo dejar propina con la tarjeta? (Can I leave you a tip with the card?). Similarmente puedes decir: (Similarly, you could say:)

ACTOR 1
¿Te puedo dejar propina por acá?
(Can I tip you here?) 

Summary

Let’s review real quick, in case your brain is messing with you, and you got a bit hungry. 

Things you could say at the door:

  • Tengo una reservación a nombre de… (I have a reservation under the name of…)
  • Sólo el nombre (Just the name)

The first things you could say at the table:

  • Estamos pensando o esperando (We’re thinking or waiting)
  • ¿Tú qué prefieres? (What do you prefer?)
  • ¿Eso con qué viene?  (What does that come with?)

¿Tenemos una sola forma de decir aperitivos o para hablar de la carne? (Do we have only one way to say appetizers or to talk about meat?)

  • No, así que mejor preguntar. (No, so better to ask.)

Preferences:

  • Soy alérgica (femenine) o alérgico (masculine) a… (I’m allergic to…)
  • Soy vegetariana, así que no como animales. (I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat animals.)
  • Porfa, trae el vino con la comida. (Please, bring the wine with the meal.)

About the food:

  • ¿Me traes un poco de sal? (Could I have some salt?)
  • ¡Está buenísimo! (It’s so good!)
  • ¿Quieres probar? (Would you like to try?)
  • ¡Estoy full! (I’m full!)
  • ¿Me lo pones para llevar? (Can I have it to go?)

Paying:

  • Vamos a dividir la cuenta. (We’re going to split the bill.)
  • Cóbrame. (Charge me.)
  • ¿Cuánto queda? (How much is left?)
  • ¿Te puedo dejar propina por acá? (Can I tip you here?)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.