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How to Order in Spanish at Restaurants

Overview: In today’s free Spanish lesson, we will cover the differences between Spanish and Mexican language, culture, and food.
Who’s it for: People who may be travelling to Spain or Mexico in the future, and want to be familiar with the two cultures.
Skill Level: Beginners


Spain vs Mexico: Differences between their culture and food

A common question amongst new Spanish learners is whether or not there is a difference between the Spanish of Spain, and the Spanish of Mexico. The answer is yes, though there are many similarities and it is likely you will be understood in any Spanish speaking country, there are also many differences that you should be aware of. At times these small differences may be perceived as rude if you do not adapt the language according to the country you are in. Today we will be discussing the differences of language and culture in Spain and Mexico. More specifically, we will discuss how to order food and beverages properly in these two countries, and how to behave in a restaurant.

Going to a bar or café:

 Spain¿Me pone un café? = Can you pour me a coffee?

MexicoPor favor ¿Me da un café? = Would you give me a coffee please?

¿Me sirve un café por favor? = Could you serve me a coffee please?

One cultural difference you will notice is that people usually ask for things in the most polite way that they can.

Asking for the check:

 Spain: ¿Me cobra? = Can you take payment?

Mexico: ¿Cuánto va ser? = How much will it be?

¿Cuánto le debo? = How much do I owe you?

Asking the waiter to bring you something:

Spain: ¿Me trae…? = Can you bring me…?

Mexico: Discúlpame ¿Podría traerme una Coca Cola, por favor? = Excuse me, would you bring a Coke for me please? Again, in Mexico they tend to make longer sentences to show extra politeness towards the server.

Getting the attention of the waiter:

Spain: Disculpe = Excuse me

Perdone = Excuse me

¡Oiga, perdone! = Listen, excuse me! It is not recommended to simply say “¡Oiga!” because that may come across as rude.

Mexico: In Mexico they might also say “Disculpe” but hardly ever “Perdone.” You can also say ¡Mesero! = Waiter! Or “¡Disculpe, joven! = Excuse me, lad

Ordering off the menu:

Spain: Para mí … = for me …

Yo voy a tomar … = I will have … 

Mexico: Quiero un … = I would like …

¿Me trae..? = Could you bring me..?

Para mi va a ser… = For me it will be …

 Complimenting the food:

Spain: Está comida es riquísima = This food is delicious.

Está comida esta para morirse = This food is to die for.

Está buena = It’s tasty

Es buena = it’s good quality

Huele que alimento = smells great

Mexico: Está delicioso = It’s delicious

Está muy rico = It’s very good

Está buenísima = It’s very good

In Mexico when they say “es buena” they usually mean the food is healthy.

A funny saying in Mexico is “Está para chuparse los dedos,” which means “It’s finger licking good!”

Huele delicioso = smells delicious

Ya se me hizo/hace aguar la boca = It makes my mouth water.

 It is important to research and understand the customs of the foreign country you would like to visit in the future. Remember to make these slight adaptations next time you visit Spain or Mexico, otherwise you may end up with a sneeze muffin!