5 Phrases for Restaurants While Traveling

Do you have plans to travel anywhere this summer? Are you going to visit friends or family; getting away for some alone time; or are you exploring a new city? If you aren’t staying in someone’s home, there is a good chance you will dine out. Among the restaurant and cafe options, you may choose a place that you’ve never been to before. Though you may know what kind of food is available in this new town or city, the following questions are helpful in finding the restaurant and meal that you want.

1) What restaurants would you recommend?

This is a great first question to ask in a new city and the key words in this question are “would you.” These words make the question personal. You are asking someone if there are restaurants they would choose. In other words, if they were in your position, what restaurant would they choose to eat at. Most of the time, locals know better than Google where you should eat.

2) May I see a menu, please?

The menu shows all the different types of food and drinks the restaurant serves. It could be a piece of paper you hold, or it could be a sign on the wall. The menu answers two big questions:

  • What kind of food is here?
  • What is the price of a meal?

Sometimes a restaurant will have your favorite foods, but it may be much more expensive than you expect. Knowing what kinds of food and how much a meal costs at this restaurant will help you know whether you want to eat there or not.

3) Do you have any recommendations? or… What is the most popular dish?

Like the first question about restaurants, you can ask a similar question to the waiter or waitress about what foods or drinks they would recommend. This is helpful to ask if you can’t make a decision or if you have never eaten this kind of food before. The waiter or waitress can tell you their favorite foods or what most people order at the restaurant. Maybe this restaurant is famous for a certain dish

4) How much extra will it cost to get ________?

Sometimes you may want something that normally doesn’t come with the meal. You can use this question to ask for something to be added to your meal that doesn’t normally come with it or to have more of something that’s already in the meal. Here’s three examples when you order a cheeseburger: 

  • How much extra will it cost to get _______…
    • mushrooms added to the cheeseburger?
    • extra cheese on the cheeseburger?
    • barbecue sauce on the side

5) Could you split the bill?

Ask this question if everyone is paying for themselves only. If you ask, most waiters and waitresses can bring multiple bills to the table for each person to pay individually. For example: After John, Mary, and Jen finish eating, the waiter brings a single bill for $40. John asks the waiter, “Could you split the bill, please?” The waiter will come back with three separate bills for John, Mary and Jen to pay individually.


dine out – phrasal verb; to eat a meal away from home

get away – phrasal verb; to leave your current location; term also used for short vacation

meal – noun; the act of eating a portion of food to satisfy appetite

recommend – verb; to present as worthy of acceptance

local – noun; a person who is from the town or city being referenced

local* – adjective; of or relating to a specific place

menu – noun; a list of the dishes that may be ordered or served

dish – noun; something prepared to be eaten

on the side – idiom; In addition to the main portion: coleslaw on the side.

split the bill – verbal idiom; refers to a division of a bill evenly or by customer


Can you fill in the blanks below with the correct vocabulary words above?

“Dan and Jane traveled to New York to meet up with their relatives, John and Mary. They all have busy jobs and this vacation is a great opportunity to _________ for a while. The four of them are staying in a nice hotel for a few days. Instead of making a _____ they decided to _________. Dan started looking on his phone for a restaurant, but John said, “Don’t search for something on google, we should ask a _______!” John went to the hotel lobby and asked the person at the front desk for a restaurant ______________. The hotel employee recommended an Italian restaurant one street away. They walked to the restaurant and when they got to the front door, Jane asked to see a menu. After looking at the menu for a few moments, Mary asked host, “What is the most popular ______ on the menu?” She said, “Our carbonara is by far the most popular.” They sat down to place their orders. Only John decided to order the carbonara and he asked to have two meatballs __________. Everyone enjoyed their meal. The waiter brought them the ticket but John and Dan wanted to pay separately. Dan asked the waiter, “Can you ___________, please?”

What is a restaurant that you would recommend as a local to anyone visiting your city? Share your answer in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out our other English lessons in our travel series.

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