How to order food & drinks in Spain like a local: essential vocabulary
The word tapear doesn’t exist in Spanish, but it’s easy to adapt to the Spanish art of eating and drinking. Whether you’re in Barcelona, Madrid or Sevilla, asking for food and drinks in Spanish will help you feel more at home in Spain. And like a local!
Helpful phrases & vocabulary
Below are a few phrases and vocabulary items to help you out!
Leave out “quiero”
English is all about being polite – saying please, thank you, I’d like. But in Spanish, it’s not considered rude to just say the thing you want with por favor afterwards. It all depends on the context and the way in which you say it.
Un café con leche, por favor.
A coffee with milk please.
Para mí/para ella
Another way to sound like a local: saying for me, for her, for him.
In any language, people love to abbreviate and try to shorten common words. Using porfi, or porfa will make you sound like you’ve been around Spain just a bit longer.
Poco hecho / al punto / bien hecho
If you order a steak do you know how to answer how you want it? Poco hecho means rare, al punto is medium or” just right” and bien hecho – well done.
Vamos con un poco de prisa
We’re in a bit of a hurry. When you’ve got a movie to catch or somewhere to be, it’s helpful to let the waiter know ahead of time as there’s usually no rush when tapeando.
Vamos a compartir
The whole idea of sharing small plates is so ingrained in the Spanish culture that once you leave the country, it will seem weird to each order your own dishes at a restaurant. Vamos a compartir – were going to share – is something a local would absolutely use.
Don’t mix up menú and carta
Carta is the Spanish word for menu, while menú usually refers to the menú del día.
Many restaurants in Spain offer a menú (fixed price lunch menu) that may not be advertised. It never hurts to ask if there is a lunch menu available!
It’s typical in Spain to share a small order of food – tapas. The media ración (half portion) would be starter size and ración (portion) would be main dish size.
¿Qué vino tenéis por copa?
What wines do you have by the glass?
(Although the word for red is rojo in Spanish, red wine is called vino tinto.)
Una copa de vinto tinto/blanco
A glass of red/white wine
Una botella de… agua/vino/cerveza
A bottle of… water/wine/beer
A small beer.
(People in Spain are not used to ordering large jugs of beer as they might be in the north of Europe. A caña is the typical size of beer that locals order in Spain)
The bill or check is la cuenta.
Me cobras, por favor?
Want to sound even more like a local? Asking the waiter to bill you – me cobras – might surprise them!
Muchas gracias. ¡estaba muy rico!
Thank you, it was delicious!
(It’s always good manners to say goodbye on your way out!)
Did we get everything? Do you feel confident enough to order your food in Spanish now? If you’re interested in taking a Spanish course in Barcelona, check out our classes.
Not sure what dishes to order? Check out our blog post 12 Spanish Dishes You Must Try When In Spain.