PLP 020 – Beginners - Phrases to use at the restaurant in Portugal

Topic: Useful phrases to use at the restaurant

Olá everybody!

This intermediate episode is an action formula and we will learn how to order, pay and much more!

In this episode you learn:

  • How to get seated at the restaurant.

  • How to order food and drinks.

  • How to complain.

  • How to pay.

  • How to leave a tip.

Listen to the episode

Portuguese Lab Podcast - European Portuguese - 20 - Sentences at the restaurant.png


You arrive at the restaurant. You either have a reservation or you don't.

Let's start with the option where you have a reservation:

First, the greeting according to the time of day:

bom dia - good morning

boa tarde - good afternoon

boa noite - good night/good evening

Eu tenho uma reserva.

I have a reservation.

Let’s include the name in the sentence (I'll use mine now).

Eu tenho uma reserva em nome de Susana Morais.

I have a reservation, under the name of Susana Morais.

Now the second option, where you don't have a reservation.

Again, you start with the greeting, according to the time of day:

bom dia / boa tarde / boa noite

Then ask for a table for two.

Eu queria uma mesa para duas pessoas.

I would like a table for two.

Great, now you are seated. The menu is not on the table. You get nervous because you have to request it. But it's quite easy. Now you know how to say you would like something:

Eu queria o menu, por favor.

I would like the menu, please.

Eu queria o menu, por favor.

I would like the menu, please.

So, now you have the menu and unfortunately it's not in English! Unless you are in a tourist restaurant, when you will have a thick menu with several pages in all the languages you can think of. But where is the fun in that? Let's look at the menu in Portuguese. Naturally they don't look all the same, but generally you will see the menu divided into different sections.

These are the areas:

  • entradas - appetizers

  • sopas - soups

  • pratos de carne - meat dishes

  • pratos de peixe - fish dishes

  • pratos do dia - today’s specials

  • sobremesas - desserts

  • bebidas - drinks

You look at the names of the dishes and you make your choice. You are ready to order. Let's order a fish dish you already know, if you listened to episode 14 about food: Bacalhau à Brás.

Sometimes, depending on the restaurant, you may have to wait a bit until someone pays attention to you and comes to take your order. Don't stress, keep cool, relax and enjoy the view (if there is one).

O empregado de mesa (the waiter) approaches and you order:

Queria um Bacalhau à Brás.

I would like a Bacalhau à Brás.

Often the menu has the option of one portion and a half-portion you can also specify that in your order.

Queria uma dose de Bacalhau à Brás.

I would like a portion of Bacalhau à Brás.

A portion is usually very generous in quantity so a half-potion is plenty for a person who doesn’t eat a lot or for children.

The same structure works for ordering drinks. You will order a bottle of water:

Queria uma garrafa de água.

I would like a bottle of water.


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If you don’t specify anything else you will get a still mineral water. If you want sparkling water you must order it:

Queria uma garrafa de água com gás.

I would like a glass of sparkling water.

You can specify if you want something to eat or to drink.

Para comer queria...

To eat I would like...

Para beber queria...

To drink I would like...

So, to order something, you use the structure:

queria + the thing you want

Queria uma sobremesa.

I would like a dessert.

Queria um café.

I would like a coffee.

It’s also important to mention that if you order a coffee, without any more information, you will get an espresso. Waiters sometimes assume you would like an espresso after you finish eating, especially if someone at your table has already ordered a coffee, so you might find yourself with an espresso in front of you, even if you didn't order it. This sometimes happens to me especially in large groups, and I don't drink coffee.

If something like this happens, or if you get a different dish from the one you ordered, you say. (and let's use coffee in this example):

Eu não pedi um café.

I didn't order a coffee.

Pedi is the past tense from the verb pedir, to order, in the first person singular.

Other things can go wrong, the food is too salty, for example. Let's use one of the adjectives we know, salty:

Está salgado.

It's salty.

Está muito salgado!

It's very salty.

Está, is from the verb estar, to be, conjugated in the 3rd person singular.

But let's go back a bit now. What if you don't know what the dishes are when you read the menu? A question might help but if you don't understand the answer you’ll be back at square one. Don't worry, everything you order will be delicious!

O que é Bacalhau à Brás?

What is Bacalhau à Brás?

Or if you don’t understand what sides come with the dish:

Qual é o acompanhamento?

What is the side?

After your meal you wish to pay.

Queria pagar.

I would like to pay.

If, again, you have trouble getting the attention of the waiter, you know what to do... But some expressions might help you to get what you want.

Raise your hand and say:


Excuse me!



Look (pay attention)!

This word alone might be a bit rude, so it's better to complement it with other words that make it polite:

Olhe, desculpe, por favor!

Look, excuse me, please!

If this doesn't get his attention you are in trouble. But you probably need time to digest all the food you ate, so just relax.

Once the bill is on the table, don't let the waiter go away without specifying if you wish to pay by card.

Queria pagar com cartão de crédito.

I would like to pay with credit card.

Queria pagar com multibanco.

I would like to pay with debit card.

About the tip, there is no rule as to how much you should leave as tip, or that you should leave something at all! So don't worry too much about that. If your food was amazing (I believe it will be!) or if your waiter was very efficient (don't know about this one though...) you might want to leave a tip. This is how to do it:

The waiter brings your change on a little plate. You decide how much of that you want to leave behind, or add something to it, if you feel that is not enough. Then, get up and leave!

If you paid by card and there is no change returning to your table, just leave your tip on the table, get up and leave!

If you don't leave anything at all that is also fine. Leave saying:

Muito obrigado.

Thank you very much (if you are a man).


Muito obrigada.

Thank you very much (if you are a woman).

Bom dia/boa tarde/boa noite.


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