How To Order Food in Portuguese

How to order food in Portuguese´s topic is tasty since I will be telling you all about how to order food in Portuguese. If you are a food lover, stay around and definitely come to Portugal. We love everything food-related and I have been told we have some of the best cuisine out there. I am not sure about this, as it depends entirely on each person’s taste, but why not try it?

In fact, one of the things you will notice (or you have already noticed if you happen to be living here) is that Portuguese families spend many hours sitting at the table and enjoying a nice meal with each other. Ok, I know…some people tend to think we are a bit exaggerated.. But come on, what is so wrong about spending three hours at the table for each meal? Especially on weekends, when you have nothing else to do? 😛

Yeah…I know! Three hours is a lot. I lived in Holland and when I told my “Dutchie” friends (as I like to call them dearly) that we eat for hours, they really did not get it. How is it possible to sit at a table for so long? Well, that goes along the lines of our culture of relaxing and enjoying life. Also, if you do not spend that much time with your family (yes, even your parents-in-law) they will get offended and/or think that there is something wrong with you (so, think twice before marrying a Portuguese!).

Ah and by the way, do not try to skip a meal here. The Portuguese families do not skip meals! If I do that, my grandma starts saying I am too skinny and I should eat more and my mum will make a conundrum that I should go to the doctor and get checked because not eating soup (as an entree) for one of the meals might only mean that there is something wrong with me! Ufff…

Ok, I AM exaggerating here, but I think this gives you an idea of how much we love food and how much meal-time is a sacred time for us.

So, I am guessing that if you come to Portugal, you will be spending a lot of time eating. You probably will end up in some of the great restaurants that we have here (I will tell you about some of my favourite later on, so keep reading..) and you might be wondering how to order food in Portuguese. Well, here it comes!

How to order food in Portuguese

How do you order food in Portuguese?

The first step is to call the waiter. So, to do so you can use  the following expression:

  • Desculpe!

This means “Excuse me” and we use it to call the waiter or waitress, while raising our hand at the same time. Maybe you might have noticed that it is similar to the word “Desculpa”. The only difference is that “Desculpe” is the formal form of the verb, so we have to use an “e” at the end. We use this formal form to address people we do not know or that are older than us. Basically, when we want to be formal and create a distance between us and the person we are speaking with.

After you call the waiter, you will have to use something to say “I would like”. Well, you can do so by saying:

  • Queria…

“Queria” means “I would like”. It is the verb “Querer” in the Imperfect form. We use this, instead of “Quero” (I want) because it sounds softer and much more polite. Do not go to someone and say “Quero um café” (seriously, not even a “por favor”?). That is just going to sound harsh and you know that we, the Portuguese, do not like harshness…

Another thing you can never forget, in any sentence is:

  • Por favor.

Seriously, use and abuse it. It is always nice and it will take you a long way. Along with a smile, it can open many doors. You can mix and match…say “Queria um café, por favor” or “Por favor, queria um café”. You can also use it at the beginning, when you are calling the waiter (which takes us back to the first point we discussed) “Desculpe! Por favor!” (followed by “Queria…”).

Be aware that in Porto, for example, we do tend to change “por favor” into something else. We say “faz favor” and even more interestingly, we say something that will sound like “fáchabor”. It is a mix of “faz” and “favor” and it sounds a bit weird, but yeah, we do that here!

Anyhow…If you do not know what you want yet, and you want to see the menu, you can ask:

  • Podia trazer-me o menu, por favor?

That means something like (Could you bring me the menu, please?). It is an alternative to “Queria”. You can either say “Queria ver o menu, por favor” (I would to see the menu, please) or “Podia trazer-me o menu?” (Could you bring me the menu?”). These are two very polite ways of ordering things, and you will be sounding very friendly when you use them.

Moreover, never forget to say:

When someone brings you something, we are always expecting this “thank you” and “you are welcome” at the end. It is just important to us, so it seems. You should also say thank you when the waiter says:

  • Bom apetite!

This means something like “Enjoy your meal”. In all honesty, if we translate it literally, it means “Good appetite”, but I know this does not make sense in English…

How to order food in Portuguese

At the end of the meal, if you want dessert, you can ask as follows:

  • O que há para sobremesa?

If you guessed that this is “What is there for dessert”, you are right! Do not forget to try our “Bolo de Bolacha” and “Natas do Céu”, my favourite. If you cannot eat sugar, though, do not do it. These are sugar bombs!

At the end of your meal, if you want to ask for the bill, call the waiter (with a “desculpe” again) and say:

  • Queria a conta, por favor!

I guess you know this one. That means “I would like to have the bill, please”. Something along those lines. Simple and efficient! Just try to sound as little Spanish as you can. I don’t know why people tend to associate this sentence with the Spanish language. Or maybe it is just me 😉 Either way, check the pronunciation page for the best way to pronounce these words.

When you leave the restaurant, do not forget to say goodbye:

You can choose. It´s up to you =)

Now, if you want to check more ways to order food and what to say in a restaurant you should click here. Also, click the links throughout this post to further explore the different words and how to use them correctly.

So, we are almost done. But before I leave, check out the next section with some of my favourite and cheap restaurants in Porto, my lovely city.

How to order food in Portuguese

Cool and Cheap(“ish”) Restaurants

  • Maria Rita; Address: Rua da Alegria 16, 4000-382 Porto

This restaurant is near the city center and it has really good and typical food for quite cheap! You should try it. You should try the famous Porto dish “Tripas” and also their speciality “Bacalhau à Maria Rita” (it is a big portion and a bit more expensive, so if you are many people, you can share it).

  • Abadia; Address: R. do Ateneu Comercial do Porto 22, 4000-092 Porto

Abadia is a bit more pricey, but their food is really good. You can try what I always eat in there – “Panados com arroz de feijão”. I really love their beans rice, so even if you do not want it with meat (hey, I am trying to become a vegetarian myself, so you can eat the rice with something else too), still try the rice!

How to order food in Portuguese

  • Zé da Serra; Address: R. Luís de Camões 580, 4430-999 Vila Nova de Gaia

This restaurant is on the Gaia side, on the south side of the river. Its real name is “A regional de Camões” (apparently…) but everyone knows it as “Zé da Serra” or “Zé Ladrão”. Here you can try anything. Everything is goooood! Do not expect a gourmet restaurant, though. This is as Portuguese as it can get.

  • “Al Forno”; Address: Rua do Almada 160, 4000-196 Porto

The speciality here is “Francesinha“, the famous Porto dish. Good news for vegetarians (or those, like me, who are trying to become one), they have vegan and vegetarian “Francesinhas” too. And they are goooood!

  • Gazela Cachorrinhos da Batalha; Address:Tv. Cimo de Vila 4 10, 4000-171 Porto

If you are someone who likes hotdogs, go to Gazela. They have this really amazing ones and you will “eat and cry for more” (“comer e chorar por mais”…it´s a Portuguese expression).

How to order food in Portuguese

  • DaTerra; Address: R. de Mouzinho da Silveira 249, Porto

If you are into vegan, go to DaTerra. They have vegan food and they serve it buffet style. You pay $7,50 for lunch and $9,50 for dinner and you eat all you can (except dessert and drinks). The food is really good and even non-vegan people should try it!

How to order food in Portuguese

  • Salpicos Verdes; Address: 133, R. Álvaro de Castelões 90, Porto

This is a tiny restaurant that is open for lunch. Two lovely ladies work here and make delicious vegetarian food. Very “home-like”. It is quite cheap too and their juices are as natural as you can get!

And that’s it! Now that you know how to order food in Portuguese, just google away and find these cool restaurants. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

If you have been to any of these, please leave a comment below and tell us about your experience =) If you have any other suggestions, feel free to make them! Don´t be a stranger! Comments are welcome!




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Categories: Vocabulary

6 thoughts on “How to order food in Portuguese

  1. Hi – Thanks for this. Instead of queria (I would like), is there a way to say, “I’ll take”… like, “Tomo o peixe”?


    1. Olá Lee 🙂
      Thank you for your comment 🙂
      We don’t say “Tomo o peixe”. The verb “tomar” in the context of food is used to say “tomar um café”, for example.
      We could use something like “Eu vou comer o peixe”, or you can also say “Para mim, o peixe, por favor.”, which means “I will eat the fish” and “For me, the fish”, respectively.
      I hope this helps! 🙂
      Please let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Thanks for the tips Mia! Can’t wait to try Ze da Serra! Especially since we’ll be living in Gaia soon!
    For super barato and equally delicious we love Casa Guedes in Porto. World’s best pork sandwich! Get it with cheese and a bowl of caldo verde or sopa de casa and the house sparkling rose. Soooooo good!

    1. You are welcome!
      YES, Casa Guedes is also a good bet for a cheap, delicious meal 😉
      I hope you enjoy living in Gaia and also Restaurante Zé da Serra =))


  3. Obrigado pelo artigo interessante! É ok dizer “gostaria” ao invés de “queria”?

    1. “Gostaria” can also be used but the sentence has to be a bit different. You can say “Gostaria que me trouxesse um café” but it is not very used and it can be even sensed as a bit harsh, in my opinion. So in the context of cafes, etc, I would use “Queria” instead. You can use “gostaria” in situation like going to ask for infos, as follows:
      “Gostaria de saber como ir para a Estação de São Bento”.
      However, even in this sentence you could use “queria” instead =)
      Therefore, “queria” is a safe choice since you can use it in many contexts =)

      Hope this helps!

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