Basic Dutch Phrases: How to Order Food in Dutch

Order Food Like a Local in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Terrace on Torensluis bridge
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You've mastered the intricacies of how to say "please" and "thank you" in Dutch; now take your conversation to the next level with these simple requests.  The phrases below cover basic transactions at a Dutch restaurant, cafe or bar.

Simple Food & Drink Requests

After you hail your server with a Dutch hallo (one word, at least, that doesn't need to be memorized), it's time to place an order. The simplest form of request is X, graag (X, khrahkh) 'X, please', where X is the item you'd like to order.

This is short for ik wil graag ... (ik vil khrahkh) 'I would like ...'. Unfortunately, these phrases feature one of the most difficult Dutch sounds, the so-called voiceless velar fricative, represented with "kh" in the pronunciation scheme; it is most similar to the ch in Yiddish chutzpah 'nerve' or Scottish loch 'lake'. Some common words used to complete this request are:

  • I'd like a beer.​​
    Ik wil graag een biertje. (Ik vil khrahkh ən BEERtyə.)
  • I'd like a bottle of water.
    Ik wil graag een fles water. (Ik vil khrahkh ən fles VAtər.)
  • I'd like the dish of the day.
    Ik wil graag de dagschotel. (Ik vil khrahkh də DAHKHskhohtl.)
  • I'd like a portion of fries.
    Ik wil graag een portie friet. (Ik vil khrahkh ən POORtsee freet.)

Alternatively, speakers can also phrase the request in the form of a question:

  • May I have a ...?
    Mag ik een ...? (Makh ik ən ...)

To order multiple drinks, no special plural form needs to be used; simply use the number instead of the word een ('one'): twee (tvay, 'two'), drie (dree, 'three'), vier (feer, 'four'), etc.

Example:

  • I'd like four coffees.
    Ik wil vier koffie graag. (Ik vil feer KOHfee khrahkh.)

To order another of the same item, use this phrase:

  • Another X, please.
    Nog een X, graag. (Nokh ən X, khrahkh.)

The request for beer contains a variant on the usual word for beer (bier), namely biertje, which is a diminutive (i.e. 'little beer').

It's not clear how this became the standard form of the request, but seasoned travelers of Europe will certainly notice that the typical size of a Dutch beer is indeed quite diminutive compared to its Central European counterparts. The country also has its own spin on the sale of water at restaurants; most of the time, restaurants will decline to serve tap water, and require patrons to purchase bottled water - hence the form of this request.

These last few phrases will furnish visitors with most of the essential Dutch restaurant requests:

  • Do you have an English menu?
    Hebben jullie een engelstalige menu? (HEBben YOOlee ən ENGglsTAHLikhə meNOO?)
  • Where is the restroom?
    Waar is de WC/het toilet? (Vahr is də VAY-say/het tvahLET?)
  • Check, please.
    De rekening, graag. (Də RAYkəning, khrahkh.)

Interact with the Waiter

Of course, the usual procedure at restaurant is that the waiter will first approach and pose a question, which will be some variant on one of these phrases:

  • What would you like to drink?​
    Willen jullie iets te drinken? (WILlə YOOlee eets tə DRINkə?)
  • What would you like to eat?
    Weten jullie het al? (Lit., "Do you already know [what you would like]?)"
  • Anything else?
    Anders nog iets? (AHNdərs nokh eets?)

    And if you can't recall any of the above phrases to place your order in Dutch, you can at least opt out in Dutch with this essential phase:

    • Do you speak English?
      Spreek je engels? (SPRAYK yə ENGgls?)