Restaurant Phrases and Common Words

Note: I updated this page to include a consolidated alphabetic list at the end of this page.

As I go along extract and translating restaurant offerings I find some phrases that might be something you’ll see in your restaurant adventures so I include them here.

El menú de precio fijo incluye entrante, plato fuerte y postre The fixed price menu includes a starter, main entree, and dessert

This translates in a fairly literal way and also represent a common way to see food offered at a restaurant, equivalent to prix fixe in restaurants elsewhere in the world. You can parse the phrase and conclude entrante=starter, plato fuerte (literally ‘strong’, meaning “main”)=main entree and postre=dessert. Usually some form of drink (bebida) and possibly bread (pan) is included as well.

Another variation of this is:

Menú del Día    Menu of the Day


Menú degustación tasting menu

where there are three (or more in tasting menus) courses with various choices in each, all at a fixed price. Frequently Menú del Día is only for lunch, also frequently only on weekdays. The courses are Primeros (First) or primer plato (plate) [salads or appetizers], Segundos  (Seconds) or segundo plato [main entree] and Postres  (Desserts). At the bottom you may see something like this (different at each restaurant):

* Pan, agua mineral o vino tinto incluidos. * Bread, mineral water or red wine included.

or, alternatively

Bebida no Incluida Drink not included

And frequently at the bottom (possibly on other menus as well)

 (IVA incluído) (VAT included)

VAT for the rest of us is effectively the same as sales tax other places. It stands for Impuestos (tax) sobre (or, about) el (the) Valor (value) Añadido (added)

And often a title for a list of items:

Segundo plato a elegir: Second dish to choose:
SPM (Según precio de mercado) SPM (According to market price)

A useful one to know since it means having enough conversational Spanish to ask about the price and understand the answer.

Todos precios son por unidad y/ó en función de la cantidad All prices are per unit and/or depending on the quantity

Probably many variations on the exact phrasing so get ready to do your own translation when you see something like this (esp. with precios in phrase)

pvp (instead of precio (price))  abbreviation of

Precio de Venta al Público

 Public Price (is their an implication there is some other non-public price?)

Also, options may be indicated by:

Disponible previo encargo Available upon request

Clearly takeout is available at some types of restaurants, possibly just to the tables outside the restaurant or to your lodging.

Comida para llevar (Takeaway) Takeout items from this restaurant


 se preparan pedidos para llevar orders are prepared to carry


 tambien para llevar also to take

There are a number of variations of this basic phrase but basically it indicates food items you can take away from the restaurant (llevar, a verb meaning literally ‘to take’ or ‘to carry’) is probably the key part of variants of this phrase you want to find.

Pescados rigurosamente “salvajes” y sujetos a disponibilidad de Mercado Fishes strictly “wild” and subject to market availability

This phrase is likely to vary between restaurants so the key words are: salvajes (wild) and disponibilidad (availability).

You may see signs for the hours the restaurant is open (horario schedule, horas hours) and these signs are likely to include the days, so here they are (usually not capitalized, sometimes abbreviated). The times are just numbers, but usually with the 24 hour type of time, i.e. 17:00 (17h) is 5 PM.

domingo Sunday
lunes Monday
martes Tuesday
miércoles Wednesday
jueves Thursday
viernes Friday
sábado Saturday
festivo holiday


Note: Spanish has several pronouns and verb conjugations for ‘you’. (singular) or vosotros (plural, usually only in Spain) are for familiar people, i.e. friends, family, etc. In restaurants the waiter (camarero or  mesero) or waitress (camarera or mesera) will be addressed (and will address you) with the usted (formal) you (ustedes is the plural formal you, kinda like US South’s you all (yawl)). So for the verb you would say puede traer not puedes traer for ‘can you bring’


Alphabetic consolidated list: In this list the notation {x|y} means this word occurs with either x or y in this position, usually this is gender in adjectives, so {a|o}. [x] means optional, most often [s].


{al | a su} gusto to taste (doneness), i.e. cooked to order
a [tu] elección at your choice
a elegir to choose [from]
abierto open
acompañad{a|o}[s] accompanied
agua water
al centro in the center (of table, i.e. for sharing)
al estilo X in the style of X
al peso by weight
algo de beber, algo de comer something to drink, something to eat
almuerzo lunch (both noun and verb, I eat lunch)
asiento, silla seat

con, sin


with, without

bebida[s] drinks



sandwich[s] (on crusty roll, like a sub in USA)

a burger (the bun), not necessarily beef

sandwich with sliced bread

botella[s] bottle[s]
buen{o|a} good
caliente hot (temperature; spicy is picante)
camarero/camarera waiter/waitress
carne meat
carta the a la carte menu
casa literally house, from this restaurant
caser{a|o} homemade
cena dinner
cerrado closed
cerveza beer
combinados combinations
consultar disponibilidad check availability
copa glass (bowl shaped)

drink (usually alcoholic)

cuchara[s] spoon[s]
cuchillo[s] knife[s]
cuenta bill
degustación tasting/taste (often a separate menu)
del día of the day
desayuno[s] breakfast[s] (both noun and I eat breakfast)
diario daily (available item or open)
disculpe excuse me (to get attention)
elaboración preparation
eliges tú los ingredientes you choose the ingredients
en efectivo in cash (as in to pay in cash)
en temporada in season
ensalada salad
entrantes starters (aka appetizers)
especialidad specialties
frio cold
grande big
gratuito free of charge
hielo ice
horario hours (as in when it is open)
incluid{a|o}[s] included
ingredientes ingredients
leche milk
limpi{o|a} clean
mantequilla butter
más more
me gusta I like
me gustaría I would like (making a request)
mesa table (furniture, different from tabla)
otr{o|a} another, other
pagar to pay




para acabar to finish (after main part of meal)
para comer to eat (main part of menu)
para compartir to share
para picar to nibble on (aka snacks or appetizers)
pequen{o|a} little
pescado fish
picante hot [temperature]; spicy
poco little
por encargo on request
por supuesto of course
postres desserts
precio[s] price
primeros [platos]  (primer) first course
propina tip
puede traer X

podría traer X

can you bring X

could you bring X (a bit more polite)

qué what
queso cheese
quisiera I would like
reserva reservation

pimienta negra


black pepper

segundos [platos] second course
selección/seleccionado selection/selected
servido [con] served [with]
sopa[s] soup[s]
suci{o|a} dirty
suplemento surcharge
surtido assortment
taberna bar
tabla board/plank or platter (usually an assortment, often of ham)
tarjeta de credito credit card
taza[s] cup[s]
tenedor[es] fork[s]
unidad[es] unit[s] (abbreviation uds)
vari{e|a}d{a|o}[s] assorted, varied, variety
vaso[s] glass[es]
vino wine
vino blanco white wine
vino tinto red wine