Here are some useful phrases when you are visiting an English-speaking restaurant. Note that these phrases/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.”, 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 you visit the restaurant to reserve a table. Give the number of people and the time you will arrive. If there are any children in your group, it is helpful to tell the restaurant this, so that they can make a note of it.
3. What would you suggest?
If you cannot decide between two entrees, or you have no idea what to order, 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 is appropriate 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.
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 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? It’s wise to ask this before you sit down for your meal!