In Europe the portion sizes are generally much smaller than you would find in the USA, for example. Feel free to order a small appetizer or starter, followed by a main dish and dessert. The smaller sized dishes are a blessing and not a curse, so don’t be disappointed. The slight restraint on serving size means you have room to everything, so there’s no need for restraint when ordering!
I can’t speak for the entirety of Europe here, but in the southern region of the continent no one is in a rush. You will order your drink, then a starter, and then you’ll be able to relax, chat and drink wine with family and friends for as much as an hour or two if you’d like, before the server asks if you’re ready for your main meal. Eating out in Europe is a sociable affair. It’s as much about enjoying the atmosphere and chance to reconnect as it is about the food.
Top tips for tipping
In Europe, you don’t have to tip, but you can and it will be happily received. There’s no hard and fast rule and each place will have different expectations when it comes to how much you give. Servers in Europe tend to be paid a bit above minimum wage, but be aware that not all of the tips go straight to them.
Drinks are expensive
When you’re eating out in Europe and order a drink at a restaurant like Coca Cola or Sprite, you’ll receive a small bottle that seems to carry an extortionate price tag for the size. And if you’re looking for a venue that offers free refills, much like you’ll find in the USA, you’d be better off spending your time searching for a unicorn, unless you head into a chain you could eat at anywhere in the world. Ordering water often involves buying a pricey bottle, too. If you don’t drink soda with ice usually, remember to mention it when ordering.
Breakfasts are charming
When eating out in Europe for the first meal of the day, don’t expect to find lots of breakfast chains or diners plucked from a 1950’s movie set (you’ll want to visit the USA for that).
Instead, expect to wander the characterful streets of your chosen town or city, looking out for small cafes serving the likes of salmon or avocado toast. Freshly baked pastries – think croissants, brioche and pain-au-chocolat, will also tempt many a traveller. Most restaurants won’t open until 11am – the time many places stop serving breakfast – so cafes, bakeries and even food-serving pubs and bars are your best bets for breakfast.
Do you have any questions about eating out in Europe?