Restaurants: Etiquette For Dining Out

Do you know what to do with your napkin when you are eating out? Dining in restaurants carries some etiquette rules that may not apply when eating at home. Learning about these is essential to carrying yourself well when eating out.

Whether you are at a business meal or enjoying dinner at one of your area restaurants with your family, proper restaurant etiquette is essential to carry yourself correctly at your next dining opportunity. Knowing which fork to use, where to place your napkin, and how to carry on a proper conversation will help you look cool, calm, and collected throughout the meal.

If you are the individual hosting the meal, make sure you make reservations if the restaurant allows you to do so. Some restaurants don’t allow official reservations, but they do allow you to call ahead and put your name on the list before you arrive. Either way, do what you can to avoid making your guests wait once you all arrive. If you must cancel a reservation or will be more than 15 minutes late, call the restaurant to let them know.

Once you are seated, unfold your napkin and place it in your lap. Avoid shaking it, but simply unfold and set it where it belongs. Leave your napkin in your lap until the meal is over. If you need to leave your seat, set the napkin to the side of your plate, but do not refold it.

In some restaurants, food will be brought when it is ready. If you are dining at one of these locations, wait until all at your table are served before you begin eating. If you are the one waiting for your food, you may give others permission to eat by saying, “go ahead.”

After you have used a utensil, place it on your plate if you need to set it down. Do not place a used utensil on the table. This includes your knife, even though you may not use your knife for all portions of your meal.

If you have a problem with your food, do not make a huge issue out of it. Rather than complaining to everyone else at the table, quietly summon the waiter and indicate the problem. Your waiter will take the plate and return with something acceptable. At fine restaurants, it may be appropriate to ask your host to summon the waiter.

When the bill arrives, the host will pay. If you are not the host, do not feel the need to “fight” over the bill. If the meal has no clear host, assume that everyone will pay for his or her self. You may offer to cover the tip if you wish. Tip for service in restaurants runs between 15 and 20 percent. Only lower the tip if your service was particularly poor.

Remember, these tips work for any restaurant. By following proper etiquette any time you are eating out, you will keep those with you feeling comfortable and at ease throughout the meal.

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