I do a fair bit of eating out. Here are some weirdly annoying things and nice things about eating out at US restaurants. Here I refer to the sit-down restaurants with service.
First the annoying bits:
- One has to wait to be seated. I understand if there is a crowd, then somebody manages the seating, but even in empty restaurants one has to wait for someone to come and escort you to a table. The weird thing is that some random table is usually picked out and asking for a specific table usually gets a reaction as if one is asking for VIP treatment.
- The US is a large and spacious country and restaurants in turn tend to be large and spacious, but many of them cram tables right next to each other. You can usually overhear conversations from around you. It can get super loud and on your nerves. (The Diner style of restaurants usually have comfortably spaced out seating and don’t have this problem.)
- There seems to be no established convention to get the attention of your waiter. In India, “Boss” usually works, but here you have to awkwardly wait for the waiter to meet your eye. In busy restaurants, this is quite difficult and one usually end up playing a bizarre waiting game
There are some nice things too of course !
- Water and soft drinks are usually served with ice. They usually serve a straw as well for easy drinking !
- Portion sizes tend to be large. Plan to share 🙂
- It is completely normal to get the leftovers packed. Restaurants usually do a great job of nicely packing stuff
- Probably linked to the whole tipping culture, but in general waiters take the time to explain the menu and do a decent job of recommending items when you are lost