Travel to the USA and you arrive in the land of slow-cooked, full on flavour, deliciously decadent food. From barbecues and smokeries to street food and silver service, the USA is home to a fantastic fusion of flavours, where southern, northern and international flavours meet.
Whatever your dining style, here is a everything you need to know about eating out in the US. Make sure that chowing down is an experience you relish.
Portion sizes matter
If you’re eating out in the USA, you’ll soon realise that there is no such thing as that elusive ‘normal-sized portion’. When the first meal I ordered arrived, I genuinely wondered whether I’d been given a sharing platter instead! Only the bravest of diners will manage to devour multiple courses – it would be like having a Thanksgiving Day meal every time you went out to a restaurant to eat!
Fast food rules
And I’m not just talking about all the burger joints and diners! Of course it varies wildly depending on where you choose to go when eating out, but don’t be surprised if you feel rushed. Remember that you’re not at a competitive eating contest, so don’t wolf down your food unless you really want to, whatever the servers’ faces might be saying! Turning tables over is important for their business, but so is your dining experience. If you wanted fast food, you’d be at the drive through or takeaway, not in a bistro or restaurant.
Etiquette for tips
When eating out in the USA, tips should not be whatever spare change you have leftover. Its customary here for diners to leave an additional 20% of their bill. It’s also pretty much expected that you’ll do so, which makes sense when you consider that many waiters and waitresses earn minimum wage in some states.
Drinks on tap
One of the brilliant things about eating out in America is that you’ll often buy one drink and get refills free. If your venue of choice has this on the menu, then kick back, chow down and drink up. You can have as many soft drinks as you like!
Don’t forget breakfast
When you’re hitting the road for the next leg of your road trip or simply spending the day exploring, a good breakfast is essential. You want to have enough energy to fuel an entire day of sightseeing or travelling.
Luckily, breakfast destinations proliferate in the USA. You could easily pass hundreds of restaurants serving pancakes with maple syrup or French toast. Sugary concoctions like chocolate chip pancakes, waffles with strawberries and ice cream and pastries abound. Ending breakfast on a sweet, sugary high is not an uncommon sensation in America!