Here are some useful phrases when you are visiting an English-speaking restaurant.
Note that some of these phrases or customs may be specific to North American English-speaking restaurants.
1. I’d like the ________, please.
The most basic of all restaurant phrases: “I’d like the [hamburger…salmon…steak], please.”.
This tells your waiter what you want from the menu.
“I’d” is short for “I would” and is polite.
2. I’d like to make a reservation for [three] people at [8 p.m.], please.
Not all restaurants take reservations, but for those that do, it is wise to call before your visit to reserve a table.
Give the number of people and the time you want to dine.
If there are any children in your group, it’s helpful to tell the restaurant this, so that they can make a note of it.
3. What would you suggest?
If you can’t decide between two entrees at a restaurant, or you have no idea what to order from the menu, you may ask your server for a suggestion.
It is not impolite to choose something other than what the server suggests.
4. Excuse me, could you bring more ______, please?
It’s fine to ask for more water, beverage, bread/chips.
Some restaurants provide things like bread or tortilla chips free of charge; others will charge you for extra servings.
If you aren’t sure if there is a charge for an item, ask your server. (If something is free, the server will usually bring it to your table soon after you are seated, without you asking for it.)
5. Excuse me, I have a problem…
This is a way to begin explaining to your server that there is an issue with your food.
“My food is too cold,” “Could I get my steak cooked a bit more,” and “I order vegetables for my side dish, not fries,” are all examples of how to ask your waiter for help.
6. Check, please.
“Could we get the check, please?” and “We’ll take the check.” are other examples of how to ask for your bill.
Sometimes servers will bring it to you without asking, but it is not impolite to ask.
7. Do you take cards?
Meaning = Do you accept credit cards? If you have no other way to pay, it’s best to ask this before you sit down for your meal at the restaurant!