Glossary of Spanish words for menus

Here is a glossary of helpful Spanish words you may find on a menu:

Agua frescaflavoured, sweet waters. The most popular are Jamaica (hibiscus, my favourite), Tamarindo (sweet tamarind) and Horchata (made from rice and cinnamon – tastes like a milkshake!).

Comida del Dia – A set meal of the day, usually with several choices for the main course and accompanied by soup and an agua fresca.

Carne – Meat.

Frijoles – Beans. In Playa del Carmen they are usually dark and blended into a smooth puree.

Sopa/Caldo – Soup. Mexican soups are delicious.

Torta – Sandwich


Pollo – Chicken

Pechuga de Pollo – Chicken breast


Chuleta de CerdoPork cutlet


BistekA basic cut of steak



Aguacate – Avocado

PozoleA traditional Mexican soup, in a red (rojo), green (verde) or white (blanco) broth, filled with meat and hominy (juicy corn kernels).

Mole –  A uniquely Mexican sauce made from ground chilis and chocolate with red (rojo), black (negra) and green (verde) varieties.

Alambre – Grilled meat (usually beef) topped with green peppers, bacon, onion and cheese, served with tortillas.

Al pastor – Marinated pork cooked on a rotisserie and served on tacos (with a slice of pineapple, fresh onion and cilantro) or tortas.

Ceviche – A seafood salad cooked in lime juice

Carne Asado – Grilled meat, usually Chicken, beef or pork

Arroz – Rice

Ensalada – Salad

SalsaSauces – verde (green), rojo (red), pico de gallo (a chunky tomato, onion and cilantro salsa)

Picante – Spicy

Achiote – A red coloured marinade for meat used throughout the Yucatan.

Habanero – A HOT, round chili

Cebolla – Onion

Cebollitas – Small, grilled onions

Tortilla de harina/ maiz – Flour/corn tortilla


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