One of the nice things with the KMC is there are a lot of restaurants all around us. There are many different types of food available but you have to be aware of a few differences between U.S. and German restaurants. The first thing to know is how to get a seat.
What’s so hard about getting a seat?
Most German restaurants don’t seat you. You do it yourself. If it’s a busy restaurant and they have a waiting list, they will seat you when your table is ready. If the restaurant is not full, as a rule, walk to an empty table and sit down. Your server will appear shortly to give you menus and take a drink order. Will I be able to read a German menu?
The restaurants in the KMC usually have English on their menus
This is not the norm for the rest of Germany. You should have a German cheat sheet with common German words you’ll see on a menu. This is especially important outside of the KMC. It’s handy to know a few basic words but I’ll leave that for another article. You should know that it’s not standard for a German restaurant to serve everyone a glass of water.
Why don’t they serve you water?
I didn’t say that. They will serve you water if you ask for it. There are two kinds of water: plain or fizzy. Make sure you tell your server exactly which kind you want or you might be disappointed. Don’t ask for tap water as most Germans think tap water is for bathing or cooking, not for drinking. After you order your drinks and food, how long can you stay at your table?
A German restaurant will let you stay as long as you want to
My wife had an experience in the United States of a waitress taking her salad away while she was still eating it! The U.S. restaurants want to serve you and have you on your way so they can have another customer at the same table.
This doesn’t happen in Europe
You can stay as long as you want to. We’ve had many dinners that lasted several hours. After we were finished eating our meal, we typically have drinks or desert and continue the conversation. But how does the waiter know when to bring the bill?
You have to ask for the bill
Once the bill arrives, you can always pay in cash. As time goes on, more and more restaurants also let you pay with a credit card, but not all of them accept credit cards! Make sure you carry enough cash with you to pay with cash in case they don’t accept credit cards, or if their credit card system is down. Most Americans are used to tipping 15% of the order. You don’t do this in Europe
The price on the menu includes service and taxes (VAT)
Most Europeans leave a small tip of a few Euros. A typical tip will be 2 Euros up to 5 Euros. This goes directly to the server. I like to round up and tell them the rest is for them. For example, if the bill is 55 Euros, I might give them 60 Euros and say I don’t need anything back. I really like that whatever price you see, is the price you’ll see on the bill. You don’t have to do any mental mathematics to figure out what the taxes are going to be.
There are many great restaurants in the KMC. A few of the customs are different than in the United States but you quickly get used to them. Have a relaxing dinner, take your time and remember not to over-tip!
Let us know your dining experiences in the KMC in the comments below!