Someone asked me this recently when I was sitting in a cafe in Turkey, so I decided to do a quick post about “what to say in English as a waiter serving food.” In many countries there are formal expressions people use when they serve you a meal or beverage. Probably the most famous is:
Bon appétit is one of the most recognized expressions in the world, in any language. This French language expression is so common it is used everywhere you go. But if you are a food server and want to give something to a customer in English, what should you say if you don’t want to use bon appétit?
Well, that’s a tough question, because English actually doesn’t have any formal expression to use when serving food at a restaurant!
As I said, I am currently in Turkey and here the standard expression is “Enjoy your meal.” This is commonly used at most places I’ve been to around here, but again, it is not something we would say in America, or England for that matter.
I have no idea why, but in America, there just was never an agreed-upon expression, so instead, servers make it up as they go. They might say, “Enjoy,” or they might say, “Let me know if you need anything else.”
But I honestly have never thought about what they’ve said to me in the past; it isn’t an important part of English-speaking culture, I guess…
Here’s a quick list of options, but again the main thing to remember is that there’s no right or wrong answer because English doesn’t have an expression to use when serving food in a restaurant. So don’t worry; you cannot mess it up!
You could say:
Enjoy your meal.
Hope you like it.
Here you are (or here you go).
Other short expressions I have heard food servers and waiters use include:
Let me know if you need anything else.
My name’s ______, if you need anything.
Please let me know if I can get you something else.
I’ll come back in a few minutes to check on you.
I’ll check on you again soon.
I’m right over here if you need me.
Just yell if you need something!
These expressions obviously do not have anything to do with the food itself; instead, they are about the server and the customer and making sure the customer knows that the server is nearby if needed. So the focus is less on the food, more on the customer and their needs.
So, to conclude, in English we don’t really have a formal expression that waiters or waitresses use when they bring your food.
So feel free to create your own ideas, use one of the above, or if you do not feel comfortable speaking, then just give them their food or drink, smile, and give a little wave!