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How to Order Food in German at Restaurants [Step-by-Step]

Want to impress your German speaking friends the next time you go out? Learn how to order food in German today and you'll talk like a native speaker!

When you learn a new language, one of the main things you will need to know is how to interact with others—especially relating to food. Understandably so, going to a restaurant and knowing how to order food in German is almost like knowing an entirely different language.

You may have to know some new German vocabulary if you want to avoid ordering something completely different from what you wanted!While Germans aren’t necessarily known for their cuisine, you might be surprised to learn that Germany is the second-most decorated country for its high-quality restaurants.

There is also still a certain protocol that you have to use when you are planning on heading to the local beer garden.Here are some ways for you to speak like a native German speaker when you go to a restaurant next.

How to Order Drinks at Restaurants in German

Lunch is the big meal in the German culture, and dinner is usually smaller. Likewise, you’ll find that restaurants tend to be busier during the afternoon.


Like most Western countries, you’re likely to be asked what you would like to drink first after you have seated yourself. Only high-end restaurants tend to have a host or hostess seat you. Whether you decide to go local with a stein of beer or you are planning on something much simpler (like water), you’re most likely to hear a phrase like:

Möchten Sie schon etwas zu trinken bestellen? – Would you like some drinks to start with?You can always say ‘no,’ but more likely you want to say ‘Ja, bitte’! (Yes, please!)

Drink options

Here are a few drinks that might you might want to consider ordering:

  • Ich möchte bitte schon etwas zu trinken bestellen. – I would like to order a drink to start with.
  • Wasser – water
  • Bier – beer
  • Limonade soda
  • Kaffe – coffee
  • Tee – tea
  • Wein – wine
  • Saft -- juice

These basic options can at least give you a start to a great meal!

Ordering Appetizers at Restaurants

After you’ve had a drink or two, it’s time to consider what you are planning on eating. You might want to try kielbasa or fondue—hearty treats that will stretch your stomach out before you begin the main course of your meal.Your waiter is likely to ask:

Möchten Sie eine Vorspeise? – Would you like an appetizer


Know that’s normal to have one or two before a meal in Europe. Appetizers can also be some of the most traditional dishes and can get you in the mood to enjoy some of the local cultural dishes and trying something new.Just make sure not to eat too much before your meal even begins!

How to Order Food in German (Main Course)

Once the appetizers have been devoured and cleared away, it’s time to think about what you want for your main meal. Take your time and feel free to practice some of your new vocabularies when your waiter comes to take your order.He or she might say:

Möchten Sie bestellen? - Would you like to order?

Or: Was möchten Sie essen? – What would you like to eat?

Even the most fluent German speakers sometimes need a little time to choose which foods he or she might want - especially if there is a large menu!

If you need a little bit more time so you can choose the right option for you, you can reply: Ein Moment, bitte. – One moment, please.

Or: Ich weiß noch nicht. – I don’t know yet.

This can give you some time so you are ready to take on the big, upcoming meal.Of course, it’s never a bad idea to ask and see what those who work at the restaurant like and what they might recommend to you.

If you would like a suggestion, go ahead and ask: Was können Sie empfehlen? – What can you recommend?European restaurants tend to have some amazing specials throughout the day too.

You might think of being brave and going on the menu and seeing what’s available but asking: Was ist das Angebot des Tages? – What is the special of the day?

When you’re ready and you’ve taken some time to decide what exactly it is you want, you can let your waiter or waitress know by telling him or her: Ich nehme… -- I’ll have…

Or :Ich möchte… -- I would like…Now, onto the fun part of saying what you would like to eat for dinner! In order to do that properly, you should know a few basic vocabulary words so you can narrow down just what it is you want and you can let the waiter or waitress know if you have any allergies.

Here are some simple food words to get your started:

  • Die Soße – sauce
  • Die Kartoffeln – potatoes
  • Das Fleisch – meat
  • Das Gemüse – vegetables
  • Der Reis – rice
  • Das Schweinefleisch – pork
  • Die Nudeln – noodles
  • Das Huhn – chicken
  • Die Beilage – side dish
  • Das Rindfleisch – beef

Be warned that German food can be heavy, and one dish is often enough to make you feel full after a few bites. Typical dishes have some sort of braised meat with a side of vegetables and maybe some rice.

You might also want to try some famous favorites like bratwurst. Sausage-making is an especially cherished German tradition and comes in a variety of different types of meat.If you’re a vegetarian, there are still some options available for you. Asparagus is excellent in German restaurants and is often served on the side of almost all the main dishes, while the noodles and potatoes are also staples that should be tried too.

Ending the night with some sweets

Stuffing yourself with some delicious foods, the last thing you might be thinking is partaking in some dessert. However, you might want to find some room when you find out what some of the traditional German sweets are.

Along with dessert, the German people sometimes hold an hour of coffee and cake in the late afternoon—not unlike the English high tea.When ordering dessert, you will most likely want to ask for Der Nachtisch. You’ll probably be given a wide selection of cakes, pies, and German doughnuts—without a hole.


Here are some of the major choice of dessert you might use in German:

  • Kuchen cake
  • Pastete – pie
  • Käsekuchen -- cheesecake

You should also feel free to order a hot beverage along with your last course of the night. It’s common to have coffee or tea to ease your stuffed stomach!

Paying the bill

All good meals must end, and when you have finished and let yourself digest for a bit, then you might be ready to head out and explore the rest of the German town you are visiting.

You’ll want to call your waiter or waitress over and ask for the bill.You say it in German like: Die Rechnung, bitte. – The bill, please.

Or: Ich möchte bitte bezahlen. – I would like to pay.

Unlike in some European countries, the bill will be brought to you. Also, splitting the payment is a common process since Germans tend to go out with family and friends. Your waiter or waitress might ask you if you want to pay the bill: Zusammen – together

Or: Getrennt – separatelyYou’ll also want to calculate a small tip for the quality of the service or Das Trinkgeld. 10-15% is usually just right for a fantastic meal and good service.

Also, don’t forget to give the staff a big danke on the way out so they know that you enjoyed your time in the restaurant.We hope this will help you the next time you plan on having a night eating out with some good food and companions on your German restaurant adventure!

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