110 Useful English Vocabulary for Restaurants | Restaurant Vocabulary

Are you an English learner looking to expand your vocabulary for restaurants? Look no further! In this article, we will cover useful English vocabulary that you can use when dining out or working in a restaurant. Whether you’re ordering your favorite dish or working as a server, having a strong restaurant vocabulary can make all the difference in your experience.

Restaurants Vocabulary

What is A Restaurant?

A restaurant is a place where people go to eat meals that are prepared and served by the restaurant’s staff. Restaurants can range in size from small, casual establishments with just a few tables to large, formal establishments that can seat hundreds of people.

Restaurants Vocabulary

Restaurants usually have a menu that lists the dishes and drinks that are available for customers to order, and the staff typically includes servers, who take orders and serve food and drinks, and chefs, who prepare the food. Some restaurants also have a host or hostess who greets customers and seats them at a table. Restaurants can serve a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Chinese, Mexican, French, and American, to name a few.

Vocabulary for Restaurants with Meanings

Here are some common words and phrases that are used in restaurants:

  • Appetizer: a small dish served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
  • Entree: the main course of a meal.
  • Dessert: a sweet dish served at the end of a meal.
  • Menu: a list of the dishes served at a restaurant.
  • Special: a dish that is not regularly on the menu, but is available for a limited time.
  • Waitstaff: the people who serve the customers in a restaurant.
  • Server: another word for a waiter or waitress.
  • Host/hostess: the person who greets and seats customers at the restaurant.
  • Chef: the person who is in charge of preparing the food at a restaurant.
  • Sous chef: the chef who assists the head chef in a kitchen.
  • Busser: a person who helps the waitstaff by clearing tables and refilling drinks.
  • Bartender: the person who makes and serves drinks at a bar.
  • Order: the food and drinks that a customer requests from the menu.
  • Bill: the amount of money that a customer owes for the food and drinks they have consumed.
  • Tip: an optional extra payment that a customer gives to the waitstaff in appreciation for good service.
  • Takeout: food that is purchased at a restaurant and taken to be eaten elsewhere.
  • Dine-in: eating at the restaurant, rather than taking the food to go.
  • Table service: a style of dining where the waitstaff brings the food to the table.
  • Buffet: a meal where the food is laid out and customers serve themselves.
  • A la carte: a menu with individual items that can be ordered separately, rather than a set meal.
  • Happy hour: a time when a restaurant offers discounted drinks or food specials.
  • BYOB: bring your own bottle/beverage – a policy where customers are allowed to bring their own alcohol to the restaurant.

List of Restaurants Vocabulary

  • Chicken
  • Coffee
  • Drinks menu
  • Cola
  • Cold
  • Wine
  • Condiments
  • Drink
  • Cook (Cooking Terms)
  • Spill
  • Spoon
  • Vegan option
  • Starters
  • Diner
  • Dining
  • Cutlery
  • Steak
  • Eat
  • Fish eggs
  • Food
  • Fork fries
  • Specials
  • Fruit
  • Glass
  • Gourmand
  • Gourmet
  • Grilled
  • Hamburger
  • Pay
  • Head Waiter
  • Plate
  • Platter
  • High tea
  • Hostess
  • Hot
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar
  • Dinner
  • Dish
  • Dishwasher
  • Doggie bag
  • Well-done
  • Pasta
  • Waitress
  • Pepper
  • Rare
  • Saucer
  • Tomato
  • Utensils
  • Cashier
  • Vegetables
  • Ingredients
  • Ketchup
  • Kitchen
  • Knife
  • Lemonade
  • Booking
  • Cheeseburger
  • Lunch
  • Main course
  • Bill
  • Bistro
  • Boiled
  • Manager
  • Meal
  • Set menu
  • Meat
  • Mug
  • Mustard
  • Waiter
  • Seafood
  • Seared
  • Server
  • Side order
  • Staff
  • Tip
  • Silverware
  • Breakfast
  • Brunch
  • Napkin
  • Reservation
  • Soggy
  • Order
  • Roasted
  • Entree
  • Waitstaff
  • Sous Chef
  • Busser
  • Takeout
  • Dine-in
  • Table service
  • Buffet
  • A la carte
  • Happy hour
  • BYOB
  • Vegetarian option
  • Salad
  • Soda
  • Halal
  • Dessert
  • Soup
  • Special
  • Spices
  • Spicy
  • Charge
  • Pizza
  • Kosher
  • Medium
  • Menu
  • Table
  • Milk
  • Chef
  • Appetizer
  • Beef
  • Barbeque wings
  • Vinegar
  • Beverage
  • Bowl
  • Braised
  • Bread
  • Party
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Types of Restaurants

Fast Food

Fast food restaurants are known for their quick service and affordable prices. They typically offer a limited menu of popular items such as burgers, fries, and soft drinks. Customers usually order at a counter and take their food to go or eat it in the restaurant. Some common fast food chains include McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway.

Fine Dining

Fine dining restaurants are known for their high-end atmosphere and exceptional service. They typically offer a gourmet menu with multiple courses and a wine list. Customers usually make reservations and dress up for the occasion. Some common fine dining restaurants include The French Laundry, Per Se, and Eleven Madison Park.

Casual Dining

Casual dining restaurants are known for their relaxed atmosphere and moderately priced menu. They typically offer a larger menu than fast food restaurants with a variety of cuisines. Customers usually order at a table and can either eat in the restaurant or take their food to go. Some common casual dining chains include Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Olive Garden.


Cafes are known for their casual atmosphere and coffee drinks. They typically offer a menu of light meals such as sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Customers usually order at a counter and can either eat in the cafe or take their food to go. Some common cafe chains include Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Panera Bread.


Buffets are known for their all-you-can-eat style and variety of dishes. They typically offer a self-serve buffet with multiple stations such as salad, entrees, and desserts. Customers usually pay a flat fee and can eat as much as they want. Some common buffet chains include Golden Corral, Hometown Buffet, and Old Country Buffet.

Restaurant Staff


Chefs are responsible for preparing the food that is served in the restaurant. They create the menu items and oversee the kitchen staff to ensure that everything is cooked to perfection. Chefs need to have a deep understanding of cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavor profiles. They must also be able to work quickly and efficiently under pressure.


Waitstaff, also known as servers, are responsible for taking customers’ orders, serving food and drinks, and ensuring that customers have a pleasant dining experience. They must be knowledgeable about the menu and able to answer any questions that customers may have. Waitstaff must also be able to work in a fast-paced environment and handle multiple tables at once.


Bartenders are responsible for preparing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They must have a deep understanding of different types of alcohol, mixers, and garnishes. Bartenders must also be able to engage with customers and create a fun and welcoming atmosphere at the bar.


Managers are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the restaurant, from the staff to the finances. They must be able to manage employees, handle customer complaints, and ensure that the restaurant is running efficiently. Managers must also have a deep understanding of the restaurant industry and be able to make strategic decisions to ensure the success of the business.

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Menu Terms

Meal Courses

  • Appetizers – Small dishes served before the main course to stimulate the appetite.
  • Entrees – The main course of a meal, typically a larger dish such as a steak or pasta.
  • Desserts – Sweet dishes served at the end of a meal, such as cakes, pies, or ice cream.

Food Descriptions

  • Vegan – A dish that contains no animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs.
  • Gluten-free – A dish that does not contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
  • Spicy – A dish that is hot and flavorful due to the use of chili peppers or other spices.
  • Grilled – A cooking method in which food is cooked on a grill over an open flame.
  • Sauteed – A cooking method in which food is cooked in a pan with a small amount of oil or butter.
  • Braised – A cooking method in which food is first seared and then cooked slowly in liquid until tender.

Beverage Types

  • Wine – An alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes.
  • Beer – An alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains, typically barley and hops.
  • Cocktails – Mixed alcoholic drinks typically made with liquor, juice, and other ingredients.
  • Soft drinks – Non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, such as soda or sparkling water.
  • Coffee – A hot beverage made from roasted coffee beans.
  • Tea – A hot or cold beverage made from steeping tea leaves in water.

Restaurant Etiquette

Booking a Table

Booking a table at a restaurant is a simple process. You can either call the restaurant directly or book online through their website or a third-party booking platform. When booking, be sure to provide the following information:

  • Number of guests
  • Date and time of reservation
  • Any special requests (e.g., dietary restrictions, high chair for a child)

Ordering Food

When ordering food, it’s important to be clear and concise with your order. If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, be sure to inform your server before placing your order. This will ensure that your meal is prepared correctly and safely.

If you’re unsure about a menu item, don’t be afraid to ask your server for recommendations or for more information about the dish. They’re there to help you have the best dining experience possible.

Paying the Bill

When it comes time to pay the bill, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be sure to check the bill for accuracy before paying. If there are any discrepancies, bring it to your server’s attention.

When paying, you can either pay with cash or card. If paying with a card, be sure to let your server know before they bring the bill so they can bring the card machine to your table. It’s also customary to leave a tip for your server, typically around 15-20% of the total bill.

Common Phrases in Restaurants

Asking for Recommendations

When you’re not sure what to order, it’s always a good idea to ask for recommendations. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • “What do you recommend?”
  • “What’s your most popular dish?”
  • “What’s your personal favorite?”

Remember to thank the waiter or waitress for their suggestions!

Complimenting the Food

If you enjoyed your meal, don’t be afraid to compliment the chef or the restaurant staff. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • “This is delicious!”
  • “I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish.”
  • “The presentation is beautiful.”
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These compliments can make someone’s day and may even lead to a better dining experience.

Dealing with Complaints

If you have an issue with your food or service, it’s important to address it politely. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • “Excuse me, there seems to be a mistake with my order.”
  • “I’m sorry, but my food is cold.”
  • “Could you please bring me a new fork?”

Remember to stay calm and polite when addressing any issues. Restaurant staff will be more willing to help if you’re respectful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common phrases used when ordering food in a restaurant?

When ordering food in a restaurant, some common phrases include “I’ll have the…” or “Can I get the…” followed by the name of the dish. You can also ask for recommendations by saying “What do you recommend?” or “What’s your specialty?” To make modifications to your order, you can say “Can I have it without…” or “Can you add…”. It’s also polite to say “please” and “thank you” when ordering.

What are some vocabulary words for describing the quality of food in a fine dining restaurant?

In a fine dining restaurant, you might hear words like “delectable,” “sumptuous,” or “exquisite” to describe the quality of the food. Other words that might be used include “succulent,” “flavorful,” and “savory.” These words are often used to describe dishes that are particularly well-prepared or use high-quality ingredients.

What are some common phrases used when interacting with restaurant staff?

When interacting with restaurant staff, it’s important to be polite and respectful. Some common phrases include “Excuse me,” “Could you please…,” and “Thank you.” If you need assistance, you can say “Can you help me with…?” or “I have a question about…”. If there’s a problem with your order, you can say “I think there’s been a mistake” or “This isn’t what I ordered.”

What are some vocabulary words for different types of cuisine?

There are many different types of cuisine, each with their own unique flavors and ingredients. Some common types of cuisine include Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Mexican. Each type of cuisine has its own vocabulary words that are used to describe dishes and ingredients. For example, Italian cuisine might use words like “pasta,” “risotto,” and “prosciutto,” while Mexican cuisine might use words like “taco,” “enchilada,” and “salsa.”

What are some useful phrases for communicating dietary restrictions or preferences to restaurant staff?

If you have dietary restrictions or preferences, it’s important to communicate them clearly to restaurant staff. Some useful phrases include “I’m allergic to…” or “I can’t eat…” followed by the ingredient or type of food. If you’re following a specific diet, you can say “I’m vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free” or “I don’t eat meat/dairy/eggs.” It’s also helpful to ask for recommendations or modifications to dishes that fit your dietary needs.

What are some common phrases used when paying for a meal at a restaurant?

When paying for a meal at a restaurant, some common phrases include “Can we get the check, please?” or “I’m ready to pay.” If you’re paying with cash, you can say “Do you have change for…” followed by the amount. If you’re paying with a card, you can say “I’ll pay with a card” or “Can I pay with a card?” It’s also polite to say “Thank you” when paying.

Last Updated on November 7, 2023

1 thought on “110 Useful English Vocabulary for Restaurants | Restaurant Vocabulary”

  1. It’s a fairly good, extensive list but, what is “eggs fish”? There are fish eggs, as in caviar, and there is fish roe, but I have never, ever heard of eggs fish!


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