Eating out: 5 useful phrases when in an English-speaking restaurant

Any language enthusiast will tell you that having the opportunity to use and practice the language is the most rewarding aspect of traveling abroad.

If you’re a foodie, however, discovering the country’s thrilling culinary scene will be the most memorable part of the trip. The food heritage of English-speaking countries is as diverse as it is exciting. Today, a growing number of talented and ambitious chefs are opening restaurants not only in bustling cities like Portland, Sydney or Vancouver but also in more laid-back spots like the Scottish coast or Cornwall’s beaches.

More often than not, a serious flavor hunter such as yourself rushes to a local restaurant or joint as soon as that plane touches down. But what happens after you walk through the door?

We’re happy to share with you 5 unique and useful expressions that will enhance your dining experience when traveling to an English-speaking country. Enjoy! (an audio version of this article is available on our Instagram page 🎧).

Do you have a table for one?

Although the traditional “table for two” is most commonly heard, you may want to escape the outside hubbub of the city you’re visiting and enjoy a quiet, romantic dinner –  just you, your phone and a glass of wine.

Example: Do you have a table for one? And the Wi-Fi code? Also I’ll just have some bread and a glass of water. 

What are today’s specials?

Usually, the specials are unique, off-the-menu dishes and are created based on what ingredients are available that day. We strongly suggest asking your waiter about the specials, and having them repeat the list three times, before ordering the dish you had set your eyes on in the first place.

Useful tip: Beware, as today’s specials are often tomorrow’s garbage. 

Example: – What are today’s specials? 

– Swordfish nuggets. 

-That doesn’t sound very special. 

Do you have anything without meat? 

If you so happen to be a vegetarian lover – or enjoy sharing your meals with your pet rabbit – this question will lead you to the grooviest animal-friendly establishments.

Example: Do you have anything without meat? No? Ok, I’ll have a steak, medium rare. Burger on the side, well done.

Can I speak to your manager? 

In English-speaking countries such as the US, you’re encouraged to berate service workers making minimum wage who clearly have nothing to do with corporate policy. But please don’t forget to tip them when you leave.

Example: Can I speak with your manager please? Your Wi-Fi password was hard to guess, and your bread was a bit stale.

Can I take this to go? Can you box this up for me? Can I have a doggy bag? 

This is a key expression you should be thinking of adding to your bag, especially when traveling to the US. Needless to say portions in America are unreasonably large and you might never be able to finish the whole lot. Boy, do we know how much everybody enjoys leftovers.

Example: Can I have a doggy bag? I don’t actually have a dog, but my roommates will love this.

Useful English vocabulary when in a restaurant:

A party: a large group of people

Set menu: list of dishes you can order together, for a fixed price

A candlelit dinner: dinner by candlelight, a romantic gesture

Early bird special: a discounted meal for an earlier and less popular eating time

House wine: wine chosen by the restaurant, usually the cheapest option on the menu

It’s my treat: to pay for the whole bill/check

🎧 Tired of reading? Listen to the audio version of the article on our Instagram page! 🎧

You are now full-on ready to navigate the restaurant scene when traveling in an English-speaking country. Still hungry for more? You’re insatiable. Try our online English lessons Gymglish for free for 7 days. 

Learn English with Gymglish 🇬🇧

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