Essential French Phrases For Restaurants You Should Learn

Written byAmélie Pinon

One of the most important and most fun things to do in French is to go to a restaurant and order food.

First of all, there are all kinds of restaurants to eat in while in France.

Some of the most common place names in French:

  • un restaurant (restaurant)
  • une auberge (inn)
  • un bar a cafe (coffee bar)
  • un bistrot (bistro)
  • une brasserie (brasserie)
  • un cafe (cafe)
  • une hostellerie (a hostelry)
  • un relais (road side stop),
  • un snack-bar (snack bar)
  • un tea-room (tea room)

The three main meals of the day in French are:

  • le petit dejeuner (breakfast)
  • le dejeuner (lunch)
  • le diner (dinner)

Each kind of restaurant will have their own unique perspective on food. A cafe, bistrot or brasserie will be less formal but nonetheless complete meals, un snack-bar or un tea room will have light fare and un restaurant or une auberge will have finer dining.

Essential restaurant phrases and dialogues

Pouvez-vous nous recommender un bon restaurant?

Can you recommend to us a good restaurant?

Once you arrive, you will want to ask for a table.

Bonjour (Bonsoir), j'aimerais une table pour deux (trois, quatre).

Hello (Good evening), I would like a table for two (three, four).

Once you are seated, the waiter or waitress (serveur ou serveuse) will ask you if you would like something to drink:

Quelque chose a boire, Monsieur?

Something to drink, sir?

In a fine restaurant you would say

La liste des vins, s'il vous plait.

The wine list, please.

In a more casual setting, you might say:

Qu'est-ce que vous avez comme vins?

What kinds of wine do you have?

This literally translates to "what do you have in the way of wines?"

You can order your wine in different quantities. Start with "j'aimerais and then add:

  • une bouteille - a bottle
  • un pichet - a pitcher
  • une demi -bouteille
  • un verre - a glass
  • un litre - a litre

Perhaps you prefer something other than wine with your meal?

Drinks other than wine you can ask for in French:

  • Une biere (beer)
  • Un aperitif (a drink to stimulate the appetite)
  • Un gin (gin)
  • Un scotch (scotch: sec is straight, avec de glacons is 'on the rocks')
  • Un cafe (coffee)

The equivalent to "cheers!" in French is "sante!", and it's appropriate to use this expression when everyone has their drink.

How do you say "menu" in French?

La carte means 'menu' in French, but le menu refers to a pre-arranged dinner, usually with a fixed price (prix fixe).

The restaurant may also serve une formule, which is like the specialty of the day, usually with salad, dessert, coffee and sometimes even a glass of wine all included.

You should learn the French term for those foods you like to eat.

And also the ones you want to avoid! 😊

There are so many foods to cover and ways to prepare them. I'll cover these in other lessons.

A few essential meat and food types are:

  • viande - meat
  • fruits de mer - seafood
  • poisson - fish
  • porc - pork
  • agneau - lamb
  • poulet - chicken
  • salade - salad
  • fromage - cheese

Before you start to eat, don't forget the popular expression "bon appetit!"

The French eat salad after the meal, and will also have a choice of cheeses after the salad. A separate wine may be served that complements the cheeses.

Finally, there will be dessert.

You can ask for it by saying:

Je prendrai un dessert, s'il vous plait.

I'll have a dessert, please.

The easy thing here is that at a restaurant, there will be a wide assortment on a cart, and you can pick the one that looks most appealing to you.

If anything more is offered and you have had enough to eat or drink, say:

Je suis servi, merci.

I'm served, thank you.

And then, of course:

L'addition, s'il vous plait.

Check, please.

In a restaurant, you will pay the waiter.

Sometimes, in a less formal setting you may be told:

Vous pouvez payer a la caisse.

You can pay at the cashier.

Normally, service (or tips) are included, but you can be sure by asking:

Est-ce que le service est compris?

Is the service charge included?

Paying in a French restaurant

To ask if the restaurant accepts a certain form of payment, start with Acceptez-vous (do you take) and then add the payment type:

  • cheques de voyages - travelers checks
  • dollars americains (canadiens, australiens) - American (Canadian, Australian) dollars
  • cartes de credit - credit cards
  • Partager l'amour (share):
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Essential French Phrases For Restaurants You Should Learn
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Amélie Pinon
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