10 Tips for Ordering Food in Spanish

Ordering Food in Spanish

One of the best ways to become more comfortable with the Spanish language is to find opportunities to practice it as often as you can. We all love Mexican food, why not use what you’ve learned in our podcasts and try ordering food in Spanish during your next visit to a Mexican restaurant?

10 ways of ordering food in Spanish that can help you sound natural

When you want to be seated
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¿Podemos elegir dónde sentarnos?
Can we choose where to sit?
(or) Disculpe ¿podemos escoger en dónde sentarnos?
Excuse me, can we choose where we sit?

There may not always be a hostess to seat you at restaurants and eateries in Latin America. When that happens, this is a nice way to ask someone where you can sit to enjoy your meal. Ordering food in Spanish.

Or if you want to know if a seat is taken
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¿Le importa si me siento aquí?
Do you mind if I sit here?
(or) Disculpe, ¿me puedo sentar aquí?
Excuse me, can I sit here?

At less formal eateries in Latin America, you often won’t be greeted by a host or hostess. When that happens, just look for an empty seat and use your Spanish to make sure the seat isn’t taken.

When you’re ready to order
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Ya estamos listos para ordenar
We’re ready to order
(alt)Ya decidí lo que voy a pedir.
I’ve decided what I’m going to order.

Using the verb ordenar is one of the most common ways to say ‘to order” in Spanish. You can also use the verb pedir.

When you need more time
ordering food in spanish

Todavía no he decidido lo que quiero ordenar, en eso estoy.
I still haven’t decided what I’m going to order yet, I’m working on it.

Or here’s a short cut. If you haven’t figured out what you want to order yet and the waitress comes and asks “¿Listo para ordenar? / Ready to order?” … just say “Todavía en eso estoy / I’m still working on it.” 

When you’re telling your server what you want

A mí me da una orden de tamales, por favor.
I’ll take (give me) an order of tamales, please.

The phrase …A mí me da una orden de… can be a great way to start off any order. It’s generally equivalent to – I’ll take an order of/Give me an order of/Let me get an order of… etc

ordering food in spanish
When you want to order something else
ordering food in spanish

También, le encargo una margarita, por favor.
Also, I’d like/I’ll take a margarita, please.

Now it’s time to show off your Spanish a little. Instead of using the verbs pedir or ordenar to ask for your order, try using the verb encargar. In this context, it’s another very natural way to say ‘to order’.

When you want to ask for a substitution
ordering food in spanish

¿Sería posible sustituir (X) por (Y)?
Would it be possible to substitute (X) for (Y)?

Want rice instead of beans? Or corn tortillas instead of flour? You can use this simple Spanish construction in a variety of different ways.

When you want an item placed on the side
ordering food in spanish

Si no le importa, ¿me podría dar un limón aparte, por favor?
If you don’t mind, could I get a side of lemon, please?

Want something in your order placed on the side? For example, if you’d like to ask for a side of lemon or you want your salad dressing to be served on the side, one of the easiest ways to say it is by asking for it aparte.

When you want to ask for the check

Disculpe, ya estamos listos para la cuenta, por favor. 
Excuse me, we’re ready for the check, please.

ordering food in spanish

If you’re in a hurry and want to keep it simple, you could just say: La cuenta, por favor. However, “Ya estamos listos para la cuenta” is more a courteous way to ask for the check in Mexico. But whichever way you choose to ask for the check, adding disculpe, por favor and gracias, is always a good idea and will make you sound like a more gracious customer.

When you want to ask for a to-go container
ordering food in spanish

Sobró mucho, ¿me podría poner esto para llevar, por favor? Gracias.
There’s a lot left over, could I get this to go, please? (could you put this to go, please)? Thank you.

The verb sobrar could come in handy the next time you go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. It generally means: to be left over/to be too much/to not be needed.

Ordering Food in Spanish Bonus Lessons

When they ask if you’re done eating
ordering food in spanish

Sí, comí mucho, ya no me cabe lo demás.  
Yeah, I ate a lot, I can’t eat the rest.

In this context, demás means “the rest/the remaining.” In other contexts it can refer to “the others/the rest of them/everyone else.”

Be careful not to confuse demás (one word) with de más (two words). De más generally means “too much” or “excess.” Ejemplo: “Ella tomó una copa de más/She drank one cup too many.”

We did an extensive compare and contrast lesson on demás versus de más, it’s available on our website as part of the bonus learning materials that accompany our free podcasts.

If you want to buy someone a drink
ordering food in spanish

Yo te invito.
It’s on me. / I’m buying. / My treat.

There are lots of ways to offer to pay for someone’s food or drink in Spanish, in Mexico and Latin America, it’s common for people to use the Spanish verb invitar when they want to pick up the check.

Want more free lessons about ordering food in Spanish?

Listen to the Restaurant Podcast

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Be sure to check out our Restaurant podcast. The Restaurant episode is full of more Spanish lessons specifically designed to help you sound as natural as possible when you’re ordering food in Spanish.

Listen to the Street Food Podcast

ordering food in Spanish

In the Street Food podcast, it’s more casual. We focus on informal ways of ordering food in Spanish that are more appropriate for smaller eateries like food stands and taco trucks.

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Don’t miss our advanced lessons on Ordering Food in Spanish

In our bonus materials, the Restaurant study guide and extended audio podcast feature a variety of advanced lessons designed to help you sound as natural as possible when ordering food in Spanish.

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Take your Spanish to the next level

With the Doorway To Mexico language course, learning how to order food in Spanish is just one of the many topics we can help you master in Spanish. Whatever your interaction may be with native Spanish speakers, our podcasts, transcripts and study guides can help you sound as natural as possible when you’re speaking.

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Ordering food in Spanish in a Mexican Restaurant