Restaurants and Pubs

English Vocabulary for Restaurants and Pubs

Eating out at restaurants and visiting pubs requires using certain phrases and vocabulary. You need to order food, request menus, ask for information about meals, respond to questions and more.

Explore our English vocabulary for restaurants and pubs so you can enjoy your meal out or social event using the appropriate language for restaurants and pubs.


Restaurants Vocabulary

General English vocabulary for restaurants 

eating out (the act of eating at a restaurant or pub – anywhere away from home)

reservation, booking, reserved (a table can be ‘reserved’ to ensure you can eat at your preferred time)

table for one/two/three/four people

candlelit dinner (a dinner by candlelight – a popular romantic gesture)

candlelit dinner

three course meal (a meal with a starter, main course and dessert)

starter, appetiser (small first dish of a larger meal)

apperitif (a drink for the starter, before the main course)

main course, main dish, main

dessert, sweet, pudding, afters (all synonyms for dessert – ‘pudding’ and ‘afters’ are northern English terms)


liquor coffee (often taken after dessert), still water, sparkling water

menu, bar menu, wine list, dessert menu

house wine (a wine chosen by the restaurant/pub, usually the cheapest available on the menu)

red wine, white wine, rose (types of wine)

red wine vocabulary

the bill (American – the check) (piece of paper given at the end of the meal listing all the food and drink you have ordered and the total cost you need to pay)

speciality dish, soup of the day (special food, often a favourite of the chef and normally available for that day/week only)

waiter, waitress, barman, barmaid, chef, landlord, landlady, maitre d’  (all members of staff in a restaurant)

self-service, buffet, table service (‘table service’ means waiting staff will come to take your order)

steak – blue, rare, medium rare, medium, well done (increasing degrees of steak cooking)

eating out restaurant

Phrases you may want to use Phrases for making complaints
Shall we eat out tonight? This isn’t what I ordered.
Can I reserve a table for tonight, please? This meat is under-cooked / over-cooked.
Could I book a table for 8 o’clock, please? The food is cold / burnt / unpleasant
I’d like to make a reservation I’d like to move to a different table.
Can we get the bill, please? We are still waiting for a table.
I’d like a table for two, please I think this wine is corked. (wine that has been contaminated with cork taint)
Which dish do you recommend?
Please can we see the wine list / dessert menu?
I’d like a jug of water for the table, please.
Can we pay together/separately?
Shall we split the bill?
Can we see the children’s menu, please?
Phrases you may hear
Do you have a reservation? The soup/dish of the day is…
Is that a table for two? May I take your order?
Would you like any sauces with that? Are you ready to order?
Is everything OK with your meal? Are you being served?
Would you like to see the dessert menu / wine list? How would you like your steak cooked?
Would you like to taste the wine? Would you like anything else?
Would you like the set menu? Is that all?
Phrases you may see
Specials board (board with the special meals of the day/week listed) Early bird special / discount (discount for early diners, often before 6pm)
Service charge included (the tip for the waiting staff is already included) Please wait here to be seated / served
Service not included Soup / Dish of the day
Starters / Mains / Desserts Suitable for vegetarians

 restaurant sign

Using English in Pubs

General pub vocabulary

beer, a pint, half a pint, a half, draught beer, bottled beer, bitter, lager, stout, real ale
wine, white wine, red wine, rose, house wine, house red/white, rose, guest ale, spritzer, soda, tonic

gin, vodka, rum, tequila, brandy, whisky, alchopops (bottled, sweet flavoured alcoholic cocktails, often using vodka or rum)

coke, lemonade, orange, lemon, lime

coke with lemon

a round of drinks, order, bar, with ice, on the rocks

crisps, nuts, sandwiches, baguette, snacks

beer garden, pool, darts


Phrases you may want to use

  • What are you having? (to ask your companion what they want to drink)
  • Can you tell me your guest ales?
  • It’s my round. (to offer to buy drinks for everyone at the table)
  • Do you serve food?
  • Are you still serving food?
  • Shall we sit outside?
  • Do you have any snacks?
  • Keep the change.
  • A pint of bitter please and a glass of house red
  • Half a mild and a bag of nuts, please.

pints of beer - pub vocabulary

Phrases you may hear
Whose round is it? (Who is buying the next drinks) Who’s next? (Who is next to be served?)
Do you want ice with that? Cheers! (say this friendly phrase before drinking)
Anything else? Same again?
Today’s specials are on the board Last orders! (The last chance to buy drinks that night)
Phrases you may see
Order at the bar (order your food at the bar) Early bird special (a discount for early diners)
Specials board (special meals for that day/week) Beer garden (an outside area with seating)

Learn more food and drink phrases for when you are out shopping.


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