English Conversation Tips in Restaurant


When dining out, knowing how to ask about the menu and describe the food can enhance your restaurant experience. This lesson provides you with the essential English phrases and vocabulary to confidently order your meal and enjoy your culinary adventure.


Previous Conversation Tip Lesson

Conversation Tips for Offering Foods


Ask Questions in Restaurants

From asking about the “dish of the day” to understanding the difference between a “set menu” and “a la carte,” we’ll cover all the key aspects of ordering in a restaurant. So, grab your napkin and let’s get started!


Describing the menu


  • “The dish of the day” / “daily special” = what the restaurant is featuring.


What’s the dish of the day?

It’s the chef’s chicken.


  • “set menu” = a menu where the starter, main course and dessert are chosen by the restaurant.


  • “a la carte” = where you choose what you want to eat from the menu.


Asking for a description of the food


  • What is ‘chicken parmesan’ exactly?
  • Is this dish vegetarian?
  • What’s in Caesar salad?
  • Does this dish come with any vegetables?
  • Can you tell me how this dish is prepared?


Describing food


  • The pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves.


A garnish is something that is served with the food, not mixed in.


  • The burger is topped with melted cheese and crispy bacon.


Topped is something that goes on top of the food.


  • The steak is served with a side salad of mixed greens.


Side salad is salad served in a bowl or separate plate.


Sauces can be cheesy (made with cheese), savory (not sweet), creamy (smooth), spicy (made with chili peppers) or delicate (a subtle, rather than strong taste).


Desserts can be rich (very filling with a strong taste, like chocolate gateau), light (not heavy in taste or texture, like a sorbet), tangy (with a sharp taste of lemon or orange, like a lemon pie), or fruity (made with fruit, like trifle).


Ordering in a restaurant – things waiters say


  • Are you ready to order yet?
  • Have you decided what you are having?
  • Would you like anything to drink with your meal?
  • Can I recommend the chef’s special?


Ordering in a restaurant – things customers say


  • We’d like a little longer, please.
  • Could you give us a couple more minutes?
  • We really can’t decide. Can you advise us?


Enjoy your Food

Ordering food in English can feel like another course in your language learning journey. By practicing these phrases and vocabulary, you’ll be well-equipped to confidently order your next meal and enjoy the experience to the fullest.  Remember, every conversation, no matter how small, adds to your language skills!


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