There aren’t a lot of “rules” to follow in an English conversation. You can never know or predict what the other person is going to say. However, you can learn some common sentences to use in specific situations to help you feel more relaxed, prepared, and confident.
When I was in Disney World, I listened closely to everything the servers in restaurants said so that I could help you feel comfortable when you go to a restaurant! This lesson includes things people will say to you in a restaurant, and things you can say in a restaurant.
Listen: Episode 27: I Went to Disney World!
Finding a Table
Please wait to be seated.
You may see this sign when you walk in the door of the restaurant. In some restaurants you can walk in and find a table yourself. In other restaurants you have to wait for a host (male) or hostess (female) to take you to a table.
Wait. Seat is a verb?
Yes, in a restaurant, seat is a verb. It means take someone to a seat or give someone a place to sit. In the sentence “Please wait to be seated,” this is the passive form of seat. It means that you need to wait for a host or hostess to seat you.
Here are some things the host or hostess will say to you:
Tell the hostess how many people are in your group.
Your table will be ready in 15 minutes. Please have a seat. We’ll call you when your table is ready.
Sometimes you have to wait for an available table. Many restaurants will have a bar area where you can wait for your table and have some drinks.
This way, please.
Come with me.
Anna will show you to your table.
When your table is ready, a hostess will take you to your table.
In the last sentence, the verb show means lead or take.
Learn more: Travel Vocabulary: Planning a Trip
Meeting Your Server
We used to call them waiters and waitresses, but I have noticed that they now prefer to be called servers. A server is the person who takes your order and brings your food to your table.
Your order is the food and drinks that you ask for at a restaurant.
Here are some ways that your server will introduce himself or herself:
My name is Jane. I’ll be your server this afternoon / this evening / today.
Hi, I’m Mark. I’ll be your server this evening.
If you have any questions or need anything, please let me know.
Things Your Server May Say
Have you had a chance to decide?
What would you like?
What can I get for you?
Tell the server what you want to eat.
And what would you like to have?
And what would you like to eat? (with the stress on you)
The server moves around the table asking each person what he wants to eat. When she finishes taking one order, she says this to the next person.
How would you like that done?
How would you like that cooked?
When you order a steak in a restaurant, the server will ask you how you want it cooked. Choose one of these replies:
rare – red on the inside
medium – pink on the inside
medium well – a little bit of pink on the inside
well done – brown on the inside
Chicago – charred on the outside (black from burning) and rare on the inside
You can see a picture of the differences here.
Would you like the salad dressing on the side?
on the side = you want something next to your food, not on it
For example, salad dressing on the side means you don’t want your salad to come with the salad dressing on it. You want it in a little dish next to the salad.
Want me to bring out the salad with the entrées?
You order a salad as your entire meal, but other people at your table ordered a salad as an appetizer (a small plate of food you eat before the main dish) and something else as their main dish (or entrée). The server may ask you if you want to eat your salad now, or wait until everyone has their main dish. If so, she will wait and bring your salad with the entrées.
I would like the …
Can I get the … ?
When you want to order your food, start your sentences with these phrases. Notice that you use the article the when choosing something from the menu. You are choosing a specific food, and the name of that food is on the menu.
Learn more: When NOT to use “the”
Would it be possible to get that without vegetables?
Would it be possible to get that with fries instead of vegetables?
Can I get that with fries instead of vegetables?
You order an entrée, but it comes with vegetables. You don’t like vegetables. You want to eat fries instead.
Can I get the salad dressing on the side?
During the Meal
How is everything so far?
Are you enjoying your meal?
Throughout the meal the server will come to your table to make sure everything is OK.
Would you like a refill?
You are drinking Coke. Your glass is empty. Refill means fill again, or fill your glass with Coke again.
Some more water?
Glasses of tap water are always free at restaurants. Notice that in spoken English, in informal situations, a speaker will leave out do You will know it’s a question because her voice will go up at the end.
Does anyone care for more bread?
A lot of restaurants in Canada and the US provide a bread in a basket before each meal.
Are you finished?
Anything else I can get for you?
Can I get you anything else?
Does anyone want to see the dessert menu?
Some restaurants have two menus: one for appetizers & entrees, and one for desserts.
Cash or card?
Do you want to pay your bill with cash or with your credit card? (Or your bank card?)
Pronunciation tip: Remember, in fast, natural spoken English, the conjunction or is pronounced like the -er /ɚ/ sound at the end of other or mother, so cash or really sounds like casher /kæʃɚ/.
Learn more: Episode 17: The reduced form of or
Do you need the machine?
If you want to use your credit card or your bank card to pay your bill, the server can bring a portable machine to your table.
Abdullah Al Noor says
Thank you so much . I enjoyed this.
Martha yim says
Thank you very much. Today I have learnt a new thing’ Server’:)
Great. You just got away from those convencional and boring explanation about what say in a restaurant. You went deep and more detail . My mean doubt is when the server offers you water, Usually they say something about tap water or a bottle of water. I always get confused abou it. Anyways, Thanks a lot.
Haha I am not a mean person therefore I have no mean doubt. Let s try a main doubt then.
Actually, “I have a doubt” or “my main doubt” is not an English expression! Are you from Brazil? I hear “I have a doubt” a lot from my Brazilian students! :)
You can say …
“I get confused when the server offers me water. What’s the difference between tap water and bottled water?”
Tap water is free, but you have to pay for a bottle of water. There are also different kinds of bottled water (water in a bottle). In Europe people say “gas” or “no gas.” In Canada & the US, the bottled water at a restaurant might be Perrier water, which is “carbonated” or “sparkling.” It has bubbles in it and it feels fizzy on your tongue.
I hope that answers your question!
Yes I am from Brasil and yes you answered all my questions, thank you.
Dinh Nguyen says
I really like your useful sharing. I learned a lot of things from this writing.
Thanks so much.
Hi, Dear Melanie,thank you so much.I really enjoy of your story tips and
these are very helpful for me .God bless you my best teacher………..
Tinio Espinal says
So helpful! Thanks a lot Melanie.
Hi, Dear Melanie
I enjoyed this .It is very useful.Thank you so much.
Have a nice time.
Thank you very much for sharing.
Thank you very much for your lessons, they are really useful!
Hi Melanie, thanks a lot for useful English vocabulary.
Đức Hiền says
Just thank you
I think this lesson will really help me very soon. I’ve ordered in English in a restaurant because I’ve never been in an English speaking country. But things are getting better. I mean I guess II have s chance to visit an English speaking country very soon. So this lesson is welcome for me.
Thanks so much.
In my case, I’ve ever visited Cheesecake Factory. I wanted to eat Lasagne, but I was not able to find it on the menu. So, I ask the server if the menu has Lasagne or not. Then, the server couldn’t understand what I said, “Lasagne”. I think that my pronunciation was wrong. How can I pronounce “Lasagne”? and also, is that right expression when I ask the server if the restaurant serves some menu or not?
You must have felt frustrated!
In American English it’s spelled lasagna.
The easiest way to check the pronunciation of an English word is to look for the word in a dictionary for English learners:
Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
Macmillan Online Dictionary
Look for the red icon that looks like a speaker. Click on that red icon & you can hear someone say the word.
Generally, in restaurants in Canada and America, they only serve the food that’s on the menu. You can ask “Do you have lasagna?”
Sunil Kunjachan says
Melanie, you are amazing!!