If you’re in an English-speaking country, you’ll need to know how to order food when you eat out. Otherwise, you might get very hungry! Eating out in English isn’t as hard as it seems, though – especially if you can use these seven essential English phrases for eating out.
I’d like to make a reservation.
For some restaurants, you’ll need to call in advance to book a table. Be prepared to give the number of people in your group, the time you will arrive and your name. “I’d like to make a reservation for four at 8 p.m. for Kristi.” The receptionist may also ask for your phone number, so have this information ready. If there is a special place you would like to sit, tell the receptionist when you book the table and if you are in a country where smoking is allowed in restaurants, make sure to let them know whether you want a smoking or non-smoking table.
Could you repeat that, please?
It’s not just English-learners that have trouble hearing the waiters sometimes. Restaurants can be loud and even native-speakers need to ask the waiters to repeat things sometimes. If you don’t understand something, ask the waiter, “Could you repeat that?” Of course, a simple, “Excuse me?” will also work. Don’t be afraid to use it often!
We need another minute.
If you need a little more time to decide what you want to eat, just let the waiter know. When he or she asks, “Are you ready to order?” respond with, “Not yet. We need another minute,” or “Can we have another minute?” Be aware that “a minute” in a busy restaurant usually means the waiter will return in five minutes or so.
I’d like/I’ll have…
When you’ve decided what you want, let the waiter know using “I’d like…” or “I’ll have…” to order your food and drinks. For example, “I’d like the spaghetti and some tea,” or, “I’ll have a sandwich and a soft drink.” Pointing at the menu always works, too!
Could you bring …?/Do you have …?
If there’s something you need or would like more of, say, “Could you bring another fork?” If you’d like an item you’re not sure the restaurant has then try, “Do you have …?” For example, if you want orange juice but don’t see it listed, ask, “Do you have orange juice?”
This isn’t what I ordered.
If the server brings you the wrong dish, say, “I’m afraid this isn’t what I ordered, I ordered …” and continue with the name of the dish you wanted. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, make sure you do something about it.
When you’re ready to go, catch the waiter’s attention and say, “Check, please!” for a short and simple end to your meal. Another similar expression is “May I have the bill, please?” Once you have the bill, you can decide whether to treat your friends (pay for everyone) or split the bill (just pay for what you have eaten).
Now you know how to order food in English, all you need to do is choose what you want to eat!