Totopos

How to order chips and salsa like a true Mexican

We all love getting those free chips they give us in Mexican restaurants, and today we’re going to learn what they’re actually called in Spanish, or at least in Mexican Spanish.   I’m also going to share something with you that you might find disappointing.

How to order nachos/chips

Let’s start with what these tasty things are actually called.

The terms that you commonly hear are nachos or simply, chips.  Here’s how you commonly ask for some in Spanish:

¿Me trae unos chips por favor?
Can you bring me some chips please?

¿Me da unos nachos por favor?
Can you give me some nachos please?

While saying “give me” or “bring me” may sound a bit rough in English, it’s perfectly fine in Spanish.

By the way, “trae” comes from the verb traer and “da” comes from the verb dar.   It doesn’t matter which one of those you use to order.

If you’ve already eaten your way through your first basket and would like to ask for more, you just need to make a small tweak to your Spanish.

¿Me trae más chips por favor?

Those phrases will get you all the chips you want.  But now it’s time to learn the word that will certainly raise the eyebrows of many Mexicans when they hear you use it.

Totopos

The word totopos is what nacho chips are called in Mexican Spanish.   It’s super Mexican and will surely impress your mesero or mesera (waiter or waitress).    How’s that for flexing those Spanish muscles?

 

Ok, well, let’s back up for a second.

Technically the word totopos isn’t Spanish.   It comes from the Mexican indigenous language Nahuatl.  Drop that piece of knowledge on your mesero or mesera (waiter or waitress) and they will be like “mind blown”, this gringo knows his stuff.

Okay, now you know how to order totopos like a true Mexican.  But let’s not forget the salsa.

How to order Salsa

Asking for salsa is no big deal, it’s like asking for totopos.

¿Me trae salsa por favor?
Can you bring me some salsa please?

Or if you’ve already finished your first serving of salsa you can ask:

¿Me puede traer más salsa por favor?
Can you bring me more salsa please?

And if you’re wondering about the difference between “Me trae” and “Me puede traer”, don’t.   Effectively they translate to the same thing.

So as you can see, ordering salsa is no big deal.   The biggest mistake people make when ordering salsa in Spanish is when they ask for spicy salsa.

¿Me puede traer salsa caliente?

Caliente refers to temperature hot.   To talk about spicy hot, then the word you want is picante.

¿Me puedes traer una salsa picante?

You may want to confirm if they have a spicy salsa, or as we say “hot sauce”.

¿Hay una salsa que pique?
Do you have any hot sauce?

If you don’t know if a salsa is spicy or not, you can ask:

¿Es picante?
Is it spicy?

If you know it’s spicy but want to find how spicy it is, you can say:

¿Pica mucho?
Is it very spicy?

And there you have it. You are now officially an expert on ordering chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant.

But we have one more things to talk about, which is that little piece of information I said you may find disappointing.

While here in the US Mexican restaurants give you that oh-so tasty basket of totopos when you sit down, that actually doesn’t happen in Mexico.   Perhaps if you’re in a very touristy area that caters to Americans, but outside of that, you won’t be getting your totopos and salsa.

And that’s it!

Take your new found knowledge and go forth and impress the world with your Spanish!

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