What you need to know next time you order a beer and a bratwurst in Deutschland

It’s no secret that locals love it when tourists talk to them in their native language. The best thing is you don’t need to be perfect to be understood. Using these simple, easy to say German phrases for restaurants will help you be understood and order what you want next time you are in  a German restaurant.

You’ll also feel pretty damn cool doing it too.

To get you ordering like a local the next time you find yourself eating or drinking out in Germany, here are my 11 easy German phrases for restaurants.

  1. Haben Sie ein Tisch {Tish} für Zwei/Drei/Vier? – Do you have a table for 2/3/4?

    More often than not, this will be your first question when arriving at a German restaurant. If you’re struggling with your German numbers, I recommended holding up the required number of fingers. It hasn’t failed me yet 🙂

  2. Haben Sie eine Speisekarte {Sp-i-se-kar-ta} – Do you have a menu/english menu?

    Not a phrase you’ll need often, but it’s still handy to know in case a menu isn’t there to meet you at the table. Or if you want to check the desserts later. These days it’s quite common that they will have an English menu too, which can save you a bit googling.

  3. Ich möchte {mer-k-ta} Zwei Bier bitte. – I would like 2 beers please.

    The 1st question you’ll likely be asked once seated is, ‘Möchten Sie etwas zu Trinken?’ If it’s too early in the morning or a cold German beer is not your drink of choice, then simply use any of these other drinks:

    • Coffee/Esspresso – Kaffee/Espresso
    • Tea – Tee
    • A bottle/ glass of water* – eine flasche/ein Glas wasser
    • Cola – eine Cola
    • Orange Juice – einen Orangensaft
    • A bottle/Glass of Red/white wine – eine flasche/ein Glas rot/weis Wein.

    *Just a short note on water. Standard practice in German restaurants is to bring out water which you will need to pay for unless you specifically ask for tap water (Wasser aus dem Hahn bitte). Sometimes they don’t like doing this, but if you ask for tap water by law they have to give it to you for free.

  4. Wo ist die Toilette? – Where is the Toilette?

    A very important question. Sometimes the toilet can be a rather tricky to find, especially if they’ve hidden it downstairs!

  5. Haben Sie vegetarische Gerichte? – Do you have vegetarian dishes?

    Simply swap ‘vegetarische’ for one of other words below if you want to ask about other special dishes:

    • Vegan – Vegan
    • Lactose free – Laktosefrei {Lak-toe-sa-fry}
    • Low fat – Fettarm
    • Diabetic- Diabetiker
    • Seafood – Meeresfrüchte {Mer-es-fr-oo-k-ta}
  6. Ich bin allergisch gegen Nusse. – I’m allergic to nuts.

    Just like for speacility dishes, simply swap ‘Nusse’ for any of these words below if you have other allerges.

    • Shellfish – Schaltier {shal-tear}
    • Fish – Fisch
    • Lactose – Laktose
    • Gluten – Gluten
    • Eggs – Eier {Eye-er}
  7. Ich nemhe … bitte. – I’ll have … please.

    When you are ready to order, just insert the dish your’re after in the space. Some popular traditional German favorites are:

    • Roasted Pork knuckle – Schweinshaxe
    • Egg noodles with cheese – Spätzle {Sp-et-z-ler}
    • Slow roasted pork (often stuffed) with beer sauce – Spießbraten {Sp-ee-ss-bra-ten}
  8. Ich möchte noch ein Bier bitte. – I would like another beer please.

    Or simply ‘Noch ein Bier bitte‘ – Another beer please 😉

  9. Ich möchte bezahlen bitte. Zusammen/Getrennt bitte – I would like to pay Please. Together/separate please.

    Germans normally like to split bill – this means paying for exactly what you ordered. The servers usually prefer this as it normally means a higher tip. If you want to split the bill equally, the easiest way is to say ‘zusammen’ and sort it out between yourselves.

  10. Stimt so. – That is ok. (used for tipping)

    This is used to indicate that the extra money you have given them is a tip. Tipping is normal in Germany, however usually only to the next whole Euro or so. The only time you would tip more is if you were paying all together. In that case 5-6 Euros is generally ok.

    An easy way to handle a tip if you give them a lot more money than the bill, simply wait for you change and then given them back a Euro or Two. You can also say, ‘Das is für Sie’ – that is for you, if you like.

  11. Es tut mir leid, sprechen {shp-re-ken} Sie Englisch? – I’m sorry, do you speak English?

    If there are some real communication barriers, it doesn’t hurt to give this a try. It’s more polite to ask first if they speak English in German rather than just start speaking it. More often you’ll get a better response too – even if they don’t speak English.

    Nothing is more irritating than having someone speak at you in another language expecting that you understand then…even if they do.

Now that you are ready to get out there and start ordering like  a local, go and enjoy a nice German meal and your drink of choice.

One last tip before I go, don’t forget your Bitte and Danke – your please and thank you’s. Just keep in mind you can’t say the popular English phrase, Ich möchte zwei Bier Danke – Can I have 2 beers thanks. You will get some very confused looks 😉