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cultural difference 22: restaurants

May 14, 2010

Going out for dinner is a bit different in German restaurants.

In Germany, you just walk in and pick out a free table. In some of the more expensive restaurants, you wait to be seated, though.

I read that apparently, it’s common to share a table with strangers when the restaurant is crowded, but I’ve never done that. Unless, of course, it was in a “Straussi,” one of the small, seasonal vintner’s taverns in Southern Germany. They’re also called Besenwirtschaft (“broom restaurant”). If the broom is hanging outside, it means the tavern is open.

In the summer, most restaurants offer tables outside. Remember that in Germany, most restaurants aren’t air-conditioned, so it’s nicer to sit outside.

In most German restaurants, the waiter/waitress doesn’t introduce herself by name.

You don’t get a glass of water unless you ask for it. If you order mineral water, you’ll have to pay for it. You also don’t get free refills.

When you are finished with your meal, you can sit and talk for as long as you want and then ask for the check when you want to leave. Germans usually linger a little longer and don’t just get up and leave after eating the last bite.

There are no set rules for tipping. Waiters and waitresses are a bit better paid than in the US, so they don’t rely on tips. Some people just round up to the next Euro.

“Doggy bags” aren’t common. My grandmother used to always have a Tupperware container in her purse so that she could take leftovers with her.

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