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Ordering Food in English

Have you ever tried to order food in English? It’s a skill that will help you a lot more than you think in life. When you travel to an English speaking country, you’ll need to order food in English. Even if you’re not in an English speaking country, English is considered a universal language. Therefore, most people choose to learn English as a foreign language. That means you can order food in English in most countries. With the help of our article, you can also learn how to order food in English.

How to Order at a Restaurant in English

To order food, you should state the dishes you want politely. You can say “Can I have a (name of the dish)?”. You can order multiple dishes by saying “Can I have a (name of the dish) and (name of the dish)?”. If you want to order side dishes, add “… with a side of (name of the side dish)?” when ordering your main course. To order drinks, you can either say “Can I have a (name of the drink)?” or “Can I have a glass of (name of the drink)?”. If you want a whole bottle instead of a glass, say “Can I have a bottle of (name of the drink)?”. You can change “Can I have a…” with “I would like a…”. You can also add “please” at the end of your order for extra politeness.

Vocabulary That Is Useful For Any Dining Situation

Bill/checkThe piece of paper on which the price of the food you owe to the restaurant
BookingReservation, an arrangement made earlier for when you will arrive to the restaurant
CourseA set of food that is served separately during a meal
CutleryForks, knives, spoons; silverware
DishParticularly prepared food as a part of a meal (ex. chicken dish)
MenuList of all foods and drinks that are served in a restaurant
Set menuA list of dishes that is ordered together
Drinks menuA menu only containing of drinks, usually alcoholic
StarterFirst dish of a course, usually smaller than other courses
Main courseMain part of the course, usually served in big portions
Side dishSmaller portion of food that you eat with the main course
DessertLast course of the meal, typically sweet
Gluten-freeFood that doesn’t contain gluten
VegetarianNot including meat
VeganNot including animal products
KosherFood prepared according to Jewish law
HalalFood prepared according to Muslim law
PortionThe amount of food served
Server/waiter/waitressThe worker who takes your order and brings you food
Today’s specialA special dish usually only available for that day
TipA small, extra sum of money given to the restaurant staff for good service

Phrases Used At A Restaurant

When you order at a restaurant, the server might ask you follow up questions on your order. They might say “How would you like your meat/eggs cooked?”. To that you may answer “Rare/medium rare/ well-cooked etc.”

If you have dietary restrictions or just don’t want to eat certain ingredients, you need to learn how to ask your waiter about them. You can say “I’m allergic to (name of the ingredient), what dishes can you recommend?” or “I don’t like (name of the ingredient), can you substitute it with (name of another ingredient)?” To ask whether a dish fits your diet, you can ask “Is this dish vegetarian/vegan/pescaterian/gluten free etc?”, or “Does this food contain nuts/dairy/fish/meat etc.?”

If your dish is cold, undercooked or you don’t like it and want to change it, you can say “Excuse me, this dish is cold/undercooked etc. I’d like to send it back.”

If you don’t want to dine in the restaurant and just take the food home, simply ask “Can I order to go, please?” or “For takeaway, please.” If you dined in the restaurant, couldn’t finish your food and wanted to take it home, say “Can I have a to-go box?”

When you are done with the food and want to pay for your meal, say “I’d like the bill/check/ to pay, please.” After you’re done with paying, don’t forget to tip your waiter!

Dialog Examples

Let’s examine an example dialogue of Tom ordering food at a restaurant.

Server: Welcome to EnglishCentral Restaurant. Did you have a reservation?
Tom: Hello, yes. The reservation is under “Tom”, a table for two at 8 p.m.
Server: Wonderful, please follow me to your table.

Server: Are you ready to order, sir?
Tom: Yes, I would like the steak dish, but can you substitute the fries with steamed vegetables?
Server: Yes of course sir, how would you like your steak cooked?
Tom: Well done please.
Server: And your friend sir?
Tom: He would like the Today’s Special, but he is allergic to nuts. Does that dish contain any nuts?
Server: Yes, unfortunately it does sir. May I recommend the penne arrabiata instead?
Tom: We’ll take that, thank you. And a side of mushrooms to share please.
Server: Yes sir. Have you had a chance to observe our drink menu yet?
Tom: Yes, we would like a bottle of red wine, please.
Server: Wonderful choice sir, I will be back with your order shortly.

Tom: Excuse me, the steak is undercooked. Can you send it back?
Server: Of course sir, I’ll be right back with your dish.

Server: Can I get you dessert?
Tom: No thank you, we’ll take the check please.
Server: Right away.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ordering Food in English

How can I order food in English?
You can order food by saying “Can I have a (name of the dish)?”. You can learn about more ways to order food in English in our article above.

How to ask for the bill in English?
To ask for the bill, say “I would like the bill, please.” You can learn about more ways to order food in English in our article above.

How to ask for the menu in English?
To ask for the menu, say “Can I see the menu?” You can learn about more ways to order food in English in our article above.

How to change an ingredient in a dish when you’re ordering in English?

To change an ingredient in your dish, say “Can you substitute (name of the ingredient) with (name of the ingredient) please?” You can learn about more ways to order food in English in our article above.

Would you like to put what you have learned into practice? You can access everything you need to learn English on a single platform! With 25-minute one-on-one live English lessons, 40-minute group lessons, more than 30,000 interactive videos, vocabulary learning tools, AI-supported tutor MiMi, quizzes, and interactive activities, EnglishCentral offers its users a personalized and quality education plan at an affordable price. How about registering for EnglishCentral now and starting to learn English?

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