Polite Dining Communication

The First Two Mexican Spanish Words to Learn

You may have trouble pronouncing the names of some of the dishes, but you will be forgiven for any faux pas in pronunciation. However, the words Buen Provecho, are extremely important to learn, as they are the most spoken words in any restaurant or taco stand in Mexico.

Foreigners dining in Mexico need to learn two very important words: Buen provecho (Bwain pro-baay-cho). You may be more familiar with saying the French phrase bon appétit, which literally means good appetite or enjoy your meal. However, buen provecho means more than just have a good appetite.

While it does mean I hope you enjoy your meal, saying buen provecho to other people in Mexico is very polite because you are saying many things with these two simple words, such as I hope you have a great meal, I hope it benefits you well, have a nice meal, have a good appetite and something as simple as enjoy your meal.

It is used to communicate pleasure towards your enjoyment. It is said to others already seated and enjoying their meal, or even finished with the meal and enjoying a coffee afterward, as you pass by on your way to your table. As Mexicans are extremely well-mannered, they will respond in Spanish with igualmente (likewise, you too, or same to you), or gracias (thank you).

Buen provecho is so ingrained into the culture, you could be sitting on a bench in the park enjoying ice cream, and everyone who walks by might say buen provecho to you. For those who do, be sure to say gracias.

Almost always, when you utter the two words in passing, you will be greeted not only with words but with the appreciation of your fellow diners.

When the server brings your food to the table, they will almost always say buen provecho, to which you should smile and say gracias.

While we are on the subject of dining, there are a few more words that are important. After you have finished your meal, the server may ask, “algo mas?” This literally means “anything more?” and the reply may be “no gracias” or “Un cafe, por favor”, which means “a coffee, please.”