Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

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Restaurants are growing more multilingual everyday.  Hard working immigrants from throughout Latin America are respected and appreciated members of the restaurant world.  The language barrier can be daunting, but overcoming it will help you appreciate some of the most interesting people in your restaurant.  Learning enough Spanish to be able to communicate effectively is often a first step towards a good working relationship and friendship.  I can’t teach you the language in a few blog posts, but I can help with some of the basic nouns you need to communicate in restaurants.

The problem with the online translators is that they tend to be too literal.  So I consulted my good friend Senor Espaza for his expertise.  Here are some basic words to know:

Table Mesa
Chair Silla
Floor Piso
Ice Hielo (pronounced “yellow”)
Glasses Vasos
Towel Toalla
Napkins Servietas
Plates Placas
Bowl Cuenco
Fork Tenedor
Knife Cuchillo
Spoon Cuchara
Steak Knife Bistec cuchillo
Soup Spoon Cuchara sopera
Salt Sal
Pepper Pimienta
Sugar Azúcar
Steak Bisteca
Beef Carne
Chicken Pollo
Pork Puerco
Fish Pescado
Lettuce Lechuga
Tomato Tomate
Onion Cebolla
Pickle Escabeche
Cheese Queso
Bread Pan
Bun Bollo
Rare Raro
Medium Rare Medio hecho
Medium Medio
Medium Well Medio Bueno
Well Bien
Clean Limpio
Dirty Sucio
Wash Llevar
Dry Seco
Wet Mojado
Big Grande
Little Poco
Good Bueno
Bad Malo
Happy Feliz
Sad Triste
Tired Cansado
Bored Aburrido
Please Por favor,
Thank You Gracias
I’m sorry Lo siento
Excuse Me Compra miso
Behind You Detrás
Help Ayuda
Manager Gerente (or Jefe for “Boss”)
Hostess Anfitriona
Cook Cocinar

In future posts I will be adding some more conversational Spanish.  Feel free to make any requests in the comments section.  As always the best way to stay up to date on this blog is to join the facebook fanpage.

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25 Responses to Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

  1. kansas karl June 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    You have got to be kidding, me learn spanish to speak to people who want my money? If they cannot speak the language of the majority, then why are they here? If they want to be Americans learn how to speak to Americans. Native Kenyans coming to America learn English, because they want to be Amercians, spanish speakers who choose not to learn english don’t want to be here, they just want money, learn english is you want my money

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

      I approved this one to make a point. This is actually a blog for servers to learn how to do their job better. In the course of serving those who speak English will work with those who are not fluent English speakers. This is to help servers better communicate with them. No one is asking you to learn spanish to eat at a restaurant. Just sit back and speak english and enjoy the incredibly low prices of food provided by those who work incredibly hard for very little to afford you the luxury of low prices.

    • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

      Every summer we have a crew of Mexicans who do the jobs the Americans don’t want to.

      They show up on time.

      They don’t:

      *complain
      *create drama
      *call in sick
      *steal
      *get drunk and come to work with a hangover
      *talk/text on their cellphones
      *take a cigarette break every 15 minutes

      How very un-American of them.

      • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

        No doubt. The restaurant industry would seriously fall apart if it were not for the hardworking immigrants from all over Latin America. I remember the days when you had a bunch of stoned greasy faced high school drop outs doing these jobs. If you don’t, be grateful.

  2. kansas karl June 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    You have got to be kidding, me learn spanish to speak to people who want my money? If they cannot speak the language of the majority, then why are they here? If they want to be Americans learn how to speak to Americans. Native Kenyans coming to America learn English, because they want to be Amercians, spanish speakers who choose not to learn english don’t want to be here, they just want money, learn english is you want my money

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

      I approved this one to make a point. This is actually a blog for servers to learn how to do their job better. In the course of serving those who speak English will work with those who are not fluent English speakers. This is to help servers better communicate with them. No one is asking you to learn spanish to eat at a restaurant. Just sit back and speak english and enjoy the incredibly low prices of food provided by those who work incredibly hard for very little to afford you the luxury of low prices.

    • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

      Every summer we have a crew of Mexicans who do the jobs the Americans don’t want to.

      They show up on time.

      They don’t:

      *complain
      *create drama
      *call in sick
      *steal
      *get drunk and come to work with a hangover
      *talk/text on their cellphones
      *take a cigarette break every 15 minutes

      How very un-American of them.

      • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

        No doubt. The restaurant industry would seriously fall apart if it were not for the hardworking immigrants from all over Latin America. I remember the days when you had a bunch of stoned greasy faced high school drop outs doing these jobs. If you don’t, be grateful.

  3. yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    You forgot the word for “married”. That’s the only word/question I hear from our Mexican workers.

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

      I think the proper response is, “Tu es mi noveo y muchos guapo.” Ok, that actual word is “casado”

      • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

        HAHA! I know enough Spanish that the Mexicans have to be careful what they say around me. My university education pays off now and then. :-)

  4. yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    You forgot the word for “married”. That’s the only word/question I hear from our Mexican workers.

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

      I think the proper response is, “Tu es mi noveo y muchos guapo.” Ok, that actual word is “casado”

      • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

        HAHA! I know enough Spanish that the Mexicans have to be careful what they say around me. My university education pays off now and then. :-)

  5. Norm June 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    “Learning enough Spanish to be able to communicate effectively is often a first step towards a good working relationship and friendship.”

    How is that statement considered “This is to help servers better communicate with them. No one is asking you to learn spanish to eat at a restaurant.”

    You speaking out your ass tipsfortips. You state yourself in the post that you are trying to teach us Spanish.

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      Ok, I decided to let one more of these slide for the amusement of my regular readers. The name of the blog is “Tips On Improving Your Tips.” The topic of the blog is how servers can do their job more effectively to make more money. I do try to post things the general public would find interesting, but the focus is on servers. As such it is beneficial to know enough spanish to communicate with spanish speaking coworkers to have a good “working relationship and friendship.” This is not how to order in spanish for guests. The “us” I am trying to teach spanish to is servers. I’m not sure where I was unclear about this, but I apologize for the confusion.

      • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

        Maybe you were unclear in your blog title? Or maybe you were unclear in all the posts you’ve written so far? Or perhaps you were unclear in your “About Me” section. I don’t know. I’m confused.

  6. Norm June 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    “Learning enough Spanish to be able to communicate effectively is often a first step towards a good working relationship and friendship.”

    How is that statement considered “This is to help servers better communicate with them. No one is asking you to learn spanish to eat at a restaurant.”

    You speaking out your ass tipsfortips. You state yourself in the post that you are trying to teach us Spanish.

    • tipsfortips June 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      Ok, I decided to let one more of these slide for the amusement of my regular readers. The name of the blog is “Tips On Improving Your Tips.” The topic of the blog is how servers can do their job more effectively to make more money. I do try to post things the general public would find interesting, but the focus is on servers. As such it is beneficial to know enough spanish to communicate with spanish speaking coworkers to have a good “working relationship and friendship.” This is not how to order in spanish for guests. The “us” I am trying to teach spanish to is servers. I’m not sure where I was unclear about this, but I apologize for the confusion.

      • yellowcat June 2, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

        Maybe you were unclear in your blog title? Or maybe you were unclear in all the posts you’ve written so far? Or perhaps you were unclear in your “About Me” section. I don’t know. I’m confused.

  7. whitelatina April 18, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    lavar = wash
    llevar means to go… like comida para llevar means food to go

    con permiso = excuse me =)

    I work in a restaurant, and I can’t change the fact that I’m working with illegal immigrants so if learning spanish will help my job performance and will help me get up the ladder faster so be it… I don’t have the time or money to bitch about politics. So I agree with tipsfortips… sit down… shut up… and enjoy your food in whatever language you want. =)

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