How to order food in a Spanish restaurant.
Just like in a bar, there is a certain etiquette to ordering in a Spanish speaking restaurant.
How do you get the waiter’s attention?
In many phrase books and beginners Spanish work books they tell you that when you want to attract the waiters attention you simply shout:
This is the imperative tense and means, “Hear” which doesn’t translate very well but is equivalent to the English, “I say!”
The problem is that this is NOT the most common way of shouting for the waiter and what is more, in the wrong region it can sound a little offensive.
Certainly, in central Spain it is not what people say. In the ten years that I have been eating in restaurants in Madrid I haven’t heard anyone shout it at a passing waiter.
So why do they put it in the books?
The answer to this is easy. It’s in the books because it’s one of those standard phrases that everyone is supposed to use but hardly ever does. We could ask why Spanish speakers learn the greeting: “Hello, how do you do?” when, in fact, it’s used only in very formal situations and rarely at that!
The other issue is that many of the Spanish text books out there were written decades ago and just keep getting reprinted with the same old, archaic Spanish in them. Not only that but it is very difficult to offer a Spanish that is used throughout the entire Spanish speaking world.
This is a real challenge and so, when we produced this podcast about how to order food in Spanish we tried to provide you the kind of language that would travel and could be used in all countries.
Our advice is always this: Use what you have learnt until you find the place that you really want to spend time in. Once you are there, start listening to what the locals say when they order food in Spanish and copy them. Even from region to region in Spain there exists different vocabulary and verbs that that area prefers to use in conversation.
That’s why it’s important to start with something non-polemic and very general and work from that as a base.
In this podcast we help you with:
What should you expect when the waiter comes to the table?
What do you order first?
What else can you say other than “La cuenta, por favor.” when the meal is over?
Listen in as we give you the most important vocabulary to use when you are in a restaurant.
You can sound just like the natives do. ¡Que aproveche!
A mountain of additional information and guidance can be found in the comprehensive Spanish help-sheets.