Advanced Spanish Food Vocab — To Decipher a Menu

Because reading a menu should be enjoyable and not a struggle, here is a list of food-related words (many of which I had to look up the first time I saw them on a menu in Mexico!).

The featured image is of birria (read what that is below).

Specifically Mexican

zapote — a soft fruit (Nahuatl word)

epazote — a Mexican herb without a translation

verdolagas — Mexican parsley, purslane

escamol — ant larvae

chapulines — grasshoppers

huitlacoche — fungus that grows on corn

pipían — a style of sauce made with pumpkin seeds

birria — a stew, often spicy, typically made of goat meat

tacos al pastor — seasoned pork shaved off a spit (like meat in shawarma or a gyro) often topped will pineapple (that is typically shaved off the spit as well)

enfrijoladas — cheese enchiladas in a bean sauce with cream and cheese

flautas / tacos dorados — typically meat wrapped in tortillas then fried, served with pico de gallo, cream, and lettuce

Grains and Nuts

avena — oats / oatmeal

masa — ground grains

masa madre — sourdough bread

trigo — wheat

harina — flour

avellana — hazelnut

cacahuate — peanut

almendras — almond

piñon — pinenut

castaña — chestnut

anacardo — cashew

nuez — pecan, walnut, and also more generally means nut


albahaca — basil

romero — rosemary

comino — cumin

cayena — cayenne

jengibre — ginger

hinojo — fennel

ajo — garlic

enebro — juniper

canela (en rama) — cinnamon (stick)

eneldo — dill

cebollinos — chives

cebolletas — green onion, scallions

perejil — parsley

hierbabuena — peppermint

ajonjolí — sesame

salvia — sage

estragón — tarragon

azafrán — saffron

Meats & Seafood

cordero — lamb

pato — duck

chuletas — chops

chamorro de cerdo — leg of pork

costillas — ribs

salpicón — shredded (salpicón de res — shredded beef)

molida — ground (carne molida — ground beef)

hígado — liver

mixiotes — barbecue

barbacoa — barbecue of goat or lamb (very tender)

guiso — stew

solomillo / lomo– sirloin steak

falda — flank steak

jamón de pavo — turkey ham

jamón de pierna — ham (pork)

lubina / robalo — European seabass, haddock

huachinango — red snapper

trucha — trout

bacalao — cod

jaiba — crab

almejas — clams

vieiras — scallops

ostión — oyster

mejillones — mussels

calamares — squid, calamari


berenjena — eggplant

calabaza — pumpkin

calabacín — zucchini

calabacita — squash

alcachofa — artichoke

jitomate — red tomato

tomate / tomatillo — green tomato

rábanos — radishes

remolacha / betabel — beets

apio — celery

nabos — turnips

pepinos — cucumber

guisante / chícharo — peas

hongos / setas / champiñiones — mushrooms

berros — watercress / nasturtium often used in salads

acelga — chard

endivia / escarola — endive


arándano — cranberry / blueberry

ciruela — plum / prune

limon / lima — limes / lemon

chabacano — apricot

maracuyá — passion fruit

guayaba –guava







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