Useful Phrases at Restaurants in Germany
1. Einen Tisch für zwei, bitte. (A table for two, please.)
In most German restaurants you must NOT wait to be seated and can just walk in and choose your own table. Watch what the others do. If you have to wait to be seated, the above is a useful phrase.
2. Ist dieser Platz noch frei? (Is this seat still free/unoccupied?)
If other people join you later or if you’re eating at a less formal establishment, you might find yourself needing an extra chair or two. This sentence is handy for charming a place to sit away from other tables.
3. Kann ich bitte die Soeisekarte haben? (May I see the menu, please?)
Usually, a waiter comes with the menues and ready to take your drink orders, so people usually order their drinks first, then study the menu to see what they want to eat.
4. Was können Sie empfehlen? (What do you recommend?)
A little insider insight never hurts. This can be asked of the waiter or waitress, a stranger at the next table or a native you’re dining with. (Although keep in mind that if you’re friends with this person, you need the informal “you,” making the sentence read: Was kannst du empfehlen?)
5. Ich möchte bestellen. (I would like to order.)
Just in case you need to get the waiter’s attention, this phrase will be handy. Once you’ve decided what you want to order, it would go something like this: Ich möchte den Fisch bitte (I would like the fish, please).
6. Möchten Sie eine Vorspeise? (Would you like an appetizer?)
A regukar menu might include an appetizer (Vorspeise), a main course (Hauptspeise), dessert (Nachspeise), and maybe coffee, schnapps, or another drink at the end.
7. Haben Sie vegetarische Gerichte? (Do you have vegetarian dishes?)
Germany has the second-highest number of vegetarians in Europe, so chances are you will find some meatless dishes on any menu. That said, with most people eating out, meat still is the star, usually, with most dishes containing either beef, pork, chicken or various forms of seafood.
8. Ich möchte gerne etwas trinken. (I would like something to drink.)
There’s no fear of leaving a German restaurant thirsty if you can get this sentence down. Not only can your typical beverages be found, but also Radler, a mix of beer and lemonade. Literally meaning “bicycler,” it’s a popular summer drink that refreshes without getting a person drunk.
9. Was für Bier haben Sie? (What types of beer do you have?)
If you don’t have to get on a bicycle for the rest of the day, you might as well indulge. Germany’s reputation for fine beer-crafting is well deserved, and it’s generally cheaper than in the USA or UK. Germany also has the famous Reinheitsgebot, or purity law, that states that beer can only be made from water, barley and hops. Germans take pride in their beer. You might as well ask for a local one.
10. Könnte ich eine Tasse Kaffee haben? (Could I have a cup of coffee?)
11. Noch eins, bitte. (Another, please.)
No reason to let the good times end, nor to stop speaking German.
12. Hat es Ihnen geschmeckt? (Did you enjoy your meal/ Did it taste good?)
This may be asked by a dutiful waitress (or one looking for a good tip). Some responses to choose from: Prima! (Excellent!), So la la (so so) or Nicht so gut (Not very good). Go ahead, just say it. You’re in Germany, you can be honest. 😀
13. Sonst noch etwas? ([Would you like] anything else?)
Nachtisch (dessert), maybe?
14. Entschuldigen Sie bitte, Herr Ober/Frau Ober. (Excuse me please, waiter/waitress.)
This is quite formal and you may not hear it often. A simple Entschuldigung (excuse me) also works. But anything is better than snapping your fingers or clapping hands.
15. Ich möchte bezahlen. (I would like to pay)
It’s time to get the Rechnung, or bill. You’ll find that most German meals are reasonably priced. If you’re an American you’ll appreciate that the price listed is the actual price you pay for—tax already included! If you’ve just ordered drinks, the waitress will often do the math in her head for you: the benefit of a country with an engineering mind. 😀
Inevitably you’re going to run into situations not covered by these handy 15 sentences. Don’t panic. Dining in public is an intuitive exercise, and even if the waiter doesn’t know English, some hand-pointing and incessant smiling will always get you through. Just sit back, relax and enjoy your meal.
Guten Appetit! (Enjoy your meal!)