German For Travelers: Useful German for Dining Out

English-German Dining Phrasebook

Street Cafe on St. Johanner Markt Square in the Old Town, Saarbrucken, Saarland, Germany, Europe
Hans-Peter Merten / Getty Images

Want to order your Kaffee in German? Then have a look at these basic and simple German sentences that are helpful when dining out in German restaurants. From asking for the menu, and ordering, to getting the check – here are useful German phrases for dining out during your Germany travel.

Etiquette Rules when Dining Out in Germany

You'll find that most German begin the meal with a hearty Guten Appetit!

Similar to Bon Appetit, it is an elegant way to phrase "Let's eat!". More informally, you can expect an exclamation of "Mahlzeit!". This is usually said for lunch and may be announced to the room at large when walking into a Kneipe (small bar/pub).

Note that you will need to request the check at the end of the meal as it is not common for the waiter to deliver it without asking. This allows you ample time to add to your order with a dessert or coffee and generally while away the day at the restaurant as the Germans do.

Tipping is also done differently than in places like the USA. Tipping should only be around 10 percent and is given when paying the bill - not left on the table. Refer to our full guide on tipping in Germany for different situations and recommendations.

English-German Dining Phrasebook

Here are some useful phrases to help you get straight to the food, whether it be Eisbein or Schweinshaxe.

(You'll find the pronunciation in parentheses. Just read it out loud, the capitalized part of the word should be emphasized.)

  • The menu, please! - Die Speisekarte, bitte! (dee SHPY-se-Cart-uh, BITT-uh)
  • Waiter/ Waitress - der Kellner (dehr kel-ner)
  • What would you like to eat? - Was möchten Sie essen? (Vas mook-ten zee Ess-en)
  • I’ d like... - Ich haette gern... (ish HAT-uh garn...)
  • without - ohne (O-nuh)
  • with - mit (midd)
  • Breakfast - Frühstück (FRUU-shtuuk). Often consists of pastry or roll, meat, cheese, fruit and coffee.
  • Lunch - Mittagessen (mit-TAHK-ess-en). The largest warm meal of the day.
  • Dinner - Abendessen or Abendbrot (AH-bent-ess-en or AH-bent-broht). Often a simple affair of bread, meats and cheese. hence the name of Abendbrot, or "evening bread".
  • Vegetarian - Vegetarier / Vegetarierin (VEG-uh-TAR-ear / VEG-uh-TAR-ear-in). To order, you can say "Haben Sie vegetarische Gerichte?" (hah-bn zee veh-ge-tah-rî-she ge-rîH-te) (Do you have vegetarian dishes?).
  • Do you have....? - Haben Sie...? ( HAB-uhn see...)
  • What do you recommend? - Was empfehlen Sie? (Vus emp-VAY-luhn see?)
  • Is this table free? - Ist der Tisch frei? (Ist dare tish fry?)
  • Plate - Teller (TELL-er)
  • Fork - Gabel (Gob-al)
  • Knife - Messer (MESS-er)
  • Spoon - Löffel (Luh-fill)
  • Napkin - Serviette (Serve-iet)
  • Glass - Glas (Glass)
  • Beer - Bier (beer)
  • Another, please - Noch eins, bitte (Nach einz, BITT-uh)
  • Ice cubes - Eiswürfel (Ice-werf-al). Although good luck getting them! Ice is not commonly served or even available. Beware that the German word for ice cream, "Eis", also sounds deceptively similar.
  • Enjoy your meal! - Guten Appetit! (gootn Appetit!)
  • Cheers - Prost (PRO-st) 
  • Thank you - Danke (DAHN-kuh)
  • I didn’t order that! - Das habe ich nicht bestellt! (Dus HU-buh ish nisht buh-STELT)
  • Did you like the food? - Hat es Ihnen geschmeckt? (hât ês ee-nen ge-shmêkt). Hopefully, you can respond with a cheerful "Lecker !" (delicious).
  • The check, please! – Die Rechnung, bitte (dee RECH-nung, BITT-uh)
  • Keep the change - Das Stimmt (Das Schtemt)
  • Tip - Trinkgeld or “drinking money” (tRINK-geld)

What to Eat Where

What to eat at Oktoberfest (or anytime you're in Munich)

East German Meals

Guide to German Wurst (Sausage)

What to Expect at a German Biergarten

Desserts at Oktoberfest

The Best Mexican Food in Berlin