How to order food in an American restaurant

What’s one thing that we all like to do when we travel? Eat!! Going to a restaurant in English, to discover the local cuisine is one of the best parts of traveling! But going to a restaurant means speaking English to the server. You want to order your steak and eggs like an American? Let’s go!


In the US, the customer is king! We love customer service! So when you arrive at a restaurant, a host or hostess will often welcome you, with a quick “Hi, Welcome to Applebee’s. Party of how many?” It sounds like /haï, welcome tuh Appuhlbeez. Pardee uh how many?/. Watch the episode to hear how it sounds!

When they ask “Party of how many?” it means “How many people are in your group. Or sometimes, if it’s a small group, or a family, they might quickly count and ask you to confirm: “Hi, Welcome to Applebee’s. Party of 2?” That sounds like /pardee uh too?/

Then, they might give you the choice of type of table you want, for example, a booth, a high top, at the bar, or just a table. You’ll hear something like “Would you like a booth or a table?” /wuhdjuh laïkuh boo thuruh taybuhl?/

For me, I like the booths!


When you go to a restaurant you automatically get a glass of water. Generally it’s the size of your forearm, comes with a slice of lemon, and has more ice than water. If you don’t want a small glacier in your glass, you can ask “Can I have no ice please?” And the server will know you’re a tourist…

If you want a beer, you can ask the server “What do you have on tap?” “On tap” is beer that’s poured at the bar.

Or you can ask “What kind of bottled beers do you have?”

The server will either bring you a drinks menu, or give you a long list of beers you’ve maybe never heard of: Blue Moon, Sam Adams, Fat Tire.

If you want to just try something new, you can say “I don’t know, what’s the most popular beer?” and let the server guide you.

For non-alcoholic drinks, it’s mostly soft drinks, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc. If you’re traveling to the South, like to my home state of Mississippi, you have to try sweet tea. It’s a typical drink of the southern United States, or as some people call it “the house wine of the South.” Because we’re classy like that.


In many countries, you order salad, it comes with one type of sauce, or maybe olive oil and vinegar. Not in the USA! If you thought it would be easy to order salad… Nope! You have to choose your salad dressing, the sauce that you put on your salad.

The server will ask you “What kind of dressing do you want with your salad?” It sounds like /whuh kinda dressin duhyuh wan wih thyuhr salad?/. Watch the episode to hear how it really sounds!

My favorite, and maybe the most typical, is Ranch dressing. But other common choices are blue cheese, thousand island, Italian, or possibly French.

But to be honest, I’ve never tasted anything like French dressing in France or or Italian dressing in Italy. I don’t know… If you try it, come back and let me know what you think.


If you order any type of beef, the server will ask you “How would you like your steak cooked?” /How wuhdjuh laik yuhr steak cookt?/

Here are your choices:

Rare (which is impossible to pronounce. Watch the episode to practice pronouncing it correctly)
Medium rare
Medium well
Well done
And a joke my French teacher told me once: “How does a French chef know he has an American in his restaurant?” “There’s an order for steak that’s well done.” Because a lot of Americans are afraid of eating meat that isn’t completely cooked.


If you order any kind of breakfast in the US, there’s a good chance you’ll have eggs. And eggs are better cooked, right? So the server will ask you “How do you want your eggs cooked?” Or /how duhyuh wantchur eggs cookt?/ Watch the episode to hear how it sounds in real spoken English.

You can have scrambled–, my favorite. There’s hard boiled, hard boiled, where it’s cooked all the way. Sunny side up, Sunny side up, where the egg is cracked in the pan and cooked on one side only. There’s over easy, over easy. It’s similar to sunny side up, but the egg is cooked on both sides, so that it’s a liquidy on the inside, but cooked on the outside. Mmmm…

Be sure to watch the episode to hear how these expressions sound, and to see images of all of this yummy food!

Now what about you? Have you ever eaten in a restaurant in the USA? What did you eat and drink? What was your opinion of it? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

And as we say in English, enjoy your meal!

I’m Christina and I’ll see you next time!

<script async data-uid=”8b458f887b” src=””></script>

More English lessons...

Click the image to see the lesson

pronunciation going to
learn to think in English
American slang


Leave a Reply

Get your free email templates now