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English Conversations: In a Restaurant

Here are some useful phrases for ordering a meal in a restaurant in English.


“I booked a table for two for … (8pm).
“It’s under the name of …”
“A table for two please.”

What the restaurant staff say:

“Of course. Please come this way.”


“Your table isn’t quite ready yet.”
“Would you like to wait in the bar?”
“We’re fully booked at the moment. Could you come back a bit later?”

Asking about the menu

These are phrases you can ask the waiter if you aren’t sure of something on the menu.

“What’s … exactly?”
“Is this served with … (salad)?”
“Does this have any … (seafood) in it?”
“What do you recommend?”


What the waiter says:

“Are you ready to order?”
“Can I take your order?”
“Anything to drink?”
“Would you like … (chips) with that?”

What the customer says:

“I’ll have…”
“I’d like…”
“Can I have …”
“We’d like to order …”

If there are problems with the order, the waiter can say:

“I don’t think we have any more … (lobster) left. I’ll check with the kitchen.”
“I’m sorry, but the king prawn soup is finished.”

Dealing with problems

The customer can say:

“Excuse me, but I didn’t order this.”
“I’m sorry, but this is cold.”
“Can I change my order please?”

The waiter can say:

“I’m so sorry about that…”
“Let me take it back for you.” (take it back = return it to the kitchen)
“Let me change it for you.”

Getting the bill

“Can we have the bill please?”
“Could we get the bill?”
“Could we pay please?”

(“bill” in British English; “check” in American English.)

Practise your listening!

Now listen to six conversations in a restaurant. You can also read the tapescript as you listen.

Conversation 1

Hello. Are you ready to order?
We’d like a little longer, please.

Conversation 2

Can I take your order?
Is there anything you recommend?
The chef’s special is very popular.

Conversation 3 – Dealing with a problem

Excuse me, but this is cold.
Let me take it back for you Madam.
Thank you.

Conversation 4 – Dealing with a problem

Excuse me, but this isn’t what I ordered.
Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll change it for you straightaway.
Thank you.

Conversation 5 – Changing your order

I’m sorry, but can I change my order?
Of course. What would you like instead?
The chicken salad.

Conversation 6 – Getting the bill

Can I help you?
Yes, could we have the bill?
Of course.

Now go on to the next page to get phrases to say what you like or hate, and how to give your opinion: How to Talk about your Likes, Opinions and Preferences