How to Order Food in English

Does ordering food in English sound scary?

Does ordering food in English sound terrifying? Don’t worry, ordering food is a great way to practice your English fluency! I know that not only is the language an obstacle, but the way food is served and ordered may be different in the US than in your own country. I remembered when I first came to the US and ordered at a restaurant. I was amazed by the amount of food I was served and how many questions they ask you about your food.

You may think that you will be OK by just pointing at something on the menu, but there’s more than just ordering the entree. I used to think to myself, “there’s no way I can know everything the server is going to ask me, what if I don’t understand? ” or “I need to be very fluent to understand and be able to talk back to the server.” 

It is not as scary as you think. The same questions are asked at most restaurants. I used to be a server, and it was like a script each and every day. Follow along in the next dialog and you will be able to get a better idea of the general questions to expect when going to a restaurant.

Step by step conversation between a guest and a server:

  • First step: you will be greeted by the host who will show you to your table
    • Q: How many in your party?
    • A: Just one, thank you.
    • Q: Great, follow me this way.
  • Second step: after you are at your table:
    • Q: Welcome to our restaurant, my name is Dianne I will be your server. Can I get you something to drink?
    • A: Yes, I will have a coke.
    • Q: Can I get you an appetizer, something to start with?
      • An appetizer is a dish you share with others at your table.
    • A: No, thank you.
  • Third step: after you get your drink and or appetizer you will her the following:
    • Q: Are you ready to order your entree? 
      • an entree is the main dish.
    • A: Yes, I will have your grilled chicken, please.
    • Q: That’s a great choice, what two sides would you like with your chicken?
      • A side is a small side dish that goes with your entree. At most restaurants, you get up to two sides. You may also ask for a soup or a salad.
    • A: I will have a Cesar salad and french fries
    • Q: That sounds great.
      • One question that may be confusing for beginners is the question about steak. You may be asked how you want your steak cooked. Here are your options.:
        • rare– less cooked
        • medium rare
        • medium
        • medium well
        • well done– most cooked
  • Fourth step: after you got your food, you may ask for extra things:
    • Q: Here is your chicken, is there something I can get for you? 
    • A: Yes, can I get a refill on my coke and some ketchup for my fries?
    • Q: Of course, I can that for you right away
      • refill is when you get more of your drink
  • Fifth step: the waitress/waiter will bring the check in the middle or towards the end of your visit:
    • Q: Thank you for visiting our restaurant, here is the check. You can pay whenever you are ready. Can I get you a to-go box or a to-go drink?
    • Q: Yes, can I get a to-go box and a to-go coke?
      • to-go box is a disposable box to place your leftovers
  • Sixth step: after you place your credit card in the book, the waiter will come a pick up the book. The server will come back with the receipt where you will write in the tip. Most servers make about $2-3 per hour and the rest is tips. In North America, tipping ranges anywhere from 15%-20%.

Next time you go to a restaurant, pay attention to what your server asks you each time you go. The questions and answers typically don’t vary. Remember that being an active English learner is what is going to make you a better English speaker. Practice your pronunciation by talking to the servers when you go to a restaurant. It will become easier and easier each time. You can even pick up a part-time job as a server at a restaurant to practice even more!

If you liked this English lesson check out this one here!

Don’t forget to sign up for free lessons straight to your email inbox: https://www.gonaturalenglish.com/email

Pre-Register for the Complete Go Natural English Course
Enter your name and email to pre-register now. You'll receive information about how our course works, the benefits to you, and details like the price and how to join. You'll receive an invitation by email when the next registration period opens for new students.
We respect your privacy.

Free Lesson: 3 Secrets to English Fluency

Enter your name and email address to receive this recorded English lesson!

We respect your privacy.