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Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Other Countries

There’s a world of food out there waiting to be explored. However, there are some things you should know before you start dishing up some international eats. We’ve put together this handy insight into what you should know about eating out in other countries.

eating out in other countries

Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Other Countries

Avoid restaurants with hosts outside

We’ve all seen them in the main tourist drags, charming hosts holding menus and promising the best food inside. However, if these restaurants really did make the best local food, they wouldn’t need someone outside to bring you in. Be wary, it may be an easy way to decide to dine, but there are often hidden costs, and you may not be getting quality food or value for money.

Ask your waiter

One good restaurant can lead to another. If you enjoy a particular place, ask the waiter or a staff member for a nearby place for breakfast, a good cafe, bar or even another good place to try for dinner.

Plan your travel dates ahead

If you have your heart set on eating at a well-known restaurant, it would be advisable to book ahead. It’s also key to remember that in France, Italy, and Spain, locals tend to go on holiday for the month of August, so you might discover the restaurant you want to try is closed.

Also, research for any key dates, such as religious holidays or festivals, public holidays, or any events. Keep up to date with weather information, as outdoor food markets and dining terraces may not have the same appeal during monsoon season.

Learn the Lingo

Learn a few phrases

A few vital phrases will go a long way. It will make it easier with your waiting staff and shows added respect for the country you are traveling in.

How to say, ‘Check; please!’ in the following languages:

  • French – L’addition, s’il vous plait
  • Italy – Il conto, per favore
  • Spain – La cuenta, por favor
  • Portugese – A conta, por favor

Know where and how to tip

There is no need to tip in Japan and China; however, tipping is the norm in the USA, and staff generally expect 15 to 25% of the total bill to help subsidize their incredibly low wages. In Europe, the tip is often already included in the cheque, but you can leave an added tip for the wait staff.

Plan ahead

If you want to experience an upmarket dining experience, you need to remember that you’ll need to book in advance. Think ahead and allow yourself plenty of time, as some venues can sell out months in advance. Some real foodies book their restaurant reservations ahead of their flights!

Know local cultures and customs when it comes to food

Remember that in some countries, how you eat your food is important to remember. When in Morocco, the Middle East, or India, it is polite to only eat with your right hand, do not eat with your left as it is considered rude and very unclean. In China, use the serving chopsticks to pile food on your plate, not your own. In Italy don’t eat pizza with a knife and fork; eat it with your hands, and in America, double dipping your foods into sauce bowls after you’ve taken a bite will outrage your American counterparts.

When is dinner?

Depending on the country you visit, dinner can be served at a different time than in your home country. In Spain and South America, people sit down to dinner around 10 or 11 pm. Wandering the streets of Madrid at 1 am, you will see families with their children having an after-dinner walk before heading home. In Arab countries, dinner is also usually taken after 10 pm. In Paris and Rome, it’s around 9 pm, whereas in New York, restaurants generally have two dinner sittings, with the earliest starting from 5:30 pm.

Street food markets

Street food markets are the best place to enjoy fresh and authentic food. Tuck into freshly baked bread, aromatic teas, and strong coffees. It’s important to practice standard food hygiene rules, look at how the food is being prepared, ensure it’s not being washed in tap water, and be wary of anything that doesn’t look fresh.

Avoid tourist restaurants

Visit a tourist attraction, and you’ll surely find a restaurant. To gain a more authentic experience, go off the beaten track, even just a street over, and you’ve no idea what little eateries you will discover. They will often have better food and will be a lot more affordable than the overpriced restaurants in the popular main square.

Benefits of being a solo traveler

There are many benefits to being a solo traveler, and dining out is one of them. Even the most exclusive restaurants in the world can accommodate room for one more. If you want to experience a particular dining experience but don’t want the hassle of booking prior, this can save you trouble.

Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at, a luggage delivery service helping travelers worldwide.

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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