How to order the best meat in a Spanish restaurant

Here on the Costa Blanca, paella, fish and seafood get top billing in most seafront restaurants. But meat eaters, worry not; there’s plenty of variety on offer, especially as you travel further inland.

Here’s a handy translation of most of the dishes you’ll find in the CARNES (meat) section of the menu.

I’ve included separate section for steak and also for the different cuts of meat you’ll find in Spain. In the UK, we tend to turn our noses up at offal; not here, where even the humblest cut can be transformed into something delicious (see the section on casquería below).


  • Buey: bull
  • Cabra/cabrito: goat/kid
  • Cerdo: pork
  • Cochinillo: suckling pig
  • Conejo: rabbit
  • Cordero: lamb. In the UK, lamb is defined as under one year old and anything older is mutton. Spain has more detailed definitions, but you don’t often see them on menus.
  • Cordero lechal, unweaned, up to 25 days old, 8 kg. See also lechazo.
  • Cordero recental or ternasco: up to 4 months old, less than 13kg.
  • Cordero pascual: slaughtered between 4-12 months.
  • Ovino mayor/carnero: sheep over one year old, mostly found in the north of Spain.
  • Cordoníz: quail
  • Faisán: pheasant
  • Jabalí: wild boar
  • Lechazo: lamb (unweaned, under 35 days old)
  • Pato: duck
  • Pavo: turkey
  • Pollo: chicken
  • Perdiz: partridge
  • Ternera: beef. Can also mean veal (e.g. escalope de ternera)
  • Vaca: cow
  • Venado: venison


  • Ahumado: smoked
  • A la brasa: charcoal grilled
  • A la parrilla: grilled
  • A la plancha: cooked on a hot plate
  • Al horno: cooked in the oven 
  • Barbacoa/parillada: barbeque
  • Estofado: stewed
  • Guisado: stewed/casseroled
  • Horno de leña: wood oven
  • Relleno: stuffed


  • Bistec: rump steak
  • Chuletón: T-bone steak          
  • Entrecote: entrecote
  • Filete: fillet
  • Solomillo: sirloin
  • Poco hecho: rare
  • Al punto: rare
  • Medio hecho: medium
  • Bien hecho: well done


  • Alas de (pollo):  wings (chicken)
  • Albondigas: meatballs
  • Carilladas de cerdo: pig cheeks (also known as mejillas, carrilleras)
  • Chuleta: chop
  • Chuletón: T-bone steak
  • Costillas: ribs/spare ribs
  • Escalope: escalope (of veal)
  • Filete: fillet steak (usually beef)
  • Higado: liver
  • Lengua: tongue
  • Lomo: loin, tenderloin pork
  • Manitas de cerdo: pig trotters
  • Mejillas de cerdo: pig cheeks
  • Molida: minced meat
  • Muslo de: (thigh) Muslo de pollo: chicken drumstick
  • Paleta: shoulder
  • Panceta de cerdo: belly of pork
  • Patas de cerdo: pigs’ trotters
  • Picada: minced meat
  • Pierna: leg (usually lamb)
  • Pinchos: meat on a skewer (pinchos morunos are a typical tapa)
  • Pechuga: breast
  • Pluma: (literally feather) a really tender cut of pork from the neck of an Iberico pig
  • Poco hecho – rare/Al punto – rare/medio hecho – medium/bien hecho – well done
  • Rabo de toro: ox tail
  • Riñones: kidneys
  • Secreto: a cut of pork with amazing flavour from the shoulder/loin area of an Ibérico pig


Rabo de Toro
Oxtail (rabo de toro), a Spanish favourite. It needs to be braised slowly until the meat is falling away from the bone.
  • Carilladas de cerdo: pig cheeks (aka mejillas, carrilleras)
  • Higado: liver
  • Lengua: tongue
  • Mejillas de cerdo: pig cheeks
  • Manitas de cerdo: pigs trotters
  • Patas de cerdo: pigs trotters
  • Rabo de toro: ox tail (see pic)
  • Riñones: kidneys
  • Sesos: brains
  • Tripas: tripe

© Guy Pelham 2017

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