Everyone likes eating out at restaurants. When you are in an English-speaking country, knowing how to order correctly can impress your friends and make the difference between an average and an amazing dining experience. Ordering food in English at a restaurant is easy, too – if you follow these simple tips.
Get the right table
Book a table on the phone or ask for a table by saying “We’d like a table for 5, please.” This will let the waiter know how many people to expect. The waiter might ask “How many people are in your party?” In this question ‘party’ means ‘group’ not ‘celebration’. If you’re in a country where people are allowed to smoke in restaurants, the waiter might ask if you’d like to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section. If you’re in a hot country, the waiter may ask if you’d prefer to sit indoors or outdoors. Make it clear exactly where you want to sit for a perfect meal.
Having a drink is a great way to pass the time while you are deciding what to order. The waiter might ask “Would you like to start with a drink?” and you can reply “Yes, we’d like (type of drink) while we decide on our food.” If you order a bottle of wine, the waiter might ask “Would you like to taste the wine?” when he opens the bottle for you. If you like it, you can reply “Yes, that’s fine.”
When the waiter asks “Are you ready to order?” or “Can I take your order?” If you are ready, you can give your order. Use “I’d like…” or “I’ll have…” to introduce your order and expression “for starter/appetizer” to talk about the first course and “for main course” to talk about the second course of food you will eat.
If you are not sure what to order, ask the waiter “What would you recommend?” to get some advice or “What are the specialities?” to find out what the most famous dishes are at that restaurant. You could also ask “What are today’s specials?” to find out if there are any dishes being served today that are not usually on the menu.
If you want to order wine with your main course, you can use the waiter’s expert knowledge to help choose something great. Ask the waiter “What wine goes well with this?” or “What wine matches this?” to make sure they taste great together.
If you cannot eat certain things because of your religion or health, check the menu carefully. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are usually marked but if not you can point at the dish on the menu and ask the waiter “Does this contain meat/nuts/dairy?” to find out if it’s OK for you to eat. Or, when the waiter gives you the menu, you can say “I can’t eat _____, which dishes would you recommend for me?”
Pay the bill
Catch the waiter’s attention and ask “Can we have the bill, please?” or “Check, please.” to see how much you need to pay. The waiter might ask if you want to pay separately or as a group. Check the bill to see if a service charge or tip has been added. This is money that is given to the waiting staff for good service. If this hasn’t been added, it’s common in most English speaking countries to leave some extra money (usually 10-15% of the bill) for the waiter.
So, now you know how to order food at a restaurant in English, all that’s left to do is enjoy your food and have a great time!