The 5 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to a Waiter

At a restaurant, the customer is always right…unless you’re being that person. (You’ve seen them, and oh yeah, you might accidentally even be them.) We asked a server at a popular restaurant in New York City about the things diners say that drive her crazy. Take notes for tomorrow’s dinner. 

8 Restaurant Secrets That Make Dining Out Way Better

waiter never say pasta food

“i’m Allergic To Gluten.” (if You Really Aren’t)

When you say you have a food allergy, restaurants follow a strict, time-consuming protocol with the kitchen and management to make sure you don’t get sick. So if you’re just avoiding gluten as a preference, don’t say you’re allergic to it in an attempt to get better service. If your server later sees you trying a bite of your best friend’s tiramisu at dessert, she’ll feel like you wasted her (and the entire kitchen staff’s) time.

waiter never say appetizer wine

“actually, We’re Not Really That Hungry.”

If you’re planning to order only drinks and appetizers, let your server know before she seats you—especially if there’s a wait. It’s perfectly fine to eat light when you’re sitting at the bar or in the lounge, but it’s impolite to spend an hour sipping drinks at your table when there’s a line around the block.

waiter never say chinese food

“can’t I Get General Tso’s Chicken Here?”

When you’re dining at an upscale restaurant, you might not be able to order the same dishes as you would at your local takeout spot. Even if the menu doesn’t feature your usual spring rolls, white rice and General Tso’s chicken, the server may be able to suggest something similar you might like. Live on the edge, people—try something new.

quesadillas square

“where’s The Kids’ Menu?” (if You Don’t Have Kids)

Yep, the quesadilla that six-year-old boy is chowing down on at the table next to you is half the price of the one on the main menu. But that doesn’t entitle you to order from the kids’ menu, unless you magically give birth in the next 20 minutes.

server customer restaurant square

“you Wait Tables, But What's Your Real Passion?”

Even if you’re a professional career coach, your server wants to bring you your meal quickly and efficiently—not tell you how she’s really an aspiring actress just trying to pay the bills until her one-woman show is produced. Unless she offers up personal info, just smile and politely give her your order, OK?

screen shot 2020 05 14 at 6 31 35 pm

Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.