Home Advice How to Order at a French Restaurant (with Dietary Restrictions)

How to Order at a French Restaurant (with Dietary Restrictions)

by Calli Zarpas
Tips for ordering at French restaurants

French food has a reputation for being one of the best cuisines out there, which might be why you’ll find French restaurants all over the world, not just in France. You’ve probably even seen French words on non-French menus like à la carte or à la mode. So we’re going to dive into almost every French word you need to know at a restaurant, whether you’re sitting inside the Eiffel Tower or eating pie at your local diner à la mode.

I wish I could share a story where I enjoyed some home-cooked coq au vin at a French dinner party or eaten boeuf bourguignon at a 5-star restaurant, but unfortunately, I miss out on a lot of the most famous French meals because I’m a vegetarian. So I also want to help anyone with dietary restrictions of any sort order in a French restaurant . If you’ve ever stepped foot in a French restaurant, you probably know that to them, the more gluten, dairy, or meat a meal has, the better. So let’s start with some practical French phrases you’ll need when ordering at a French-speaking restaurant.

I also want to help anyone with dietary restrictions of any sort order in a French restaurant.

French Restaurant Phrases

When you first arrive at the restaurant, the host might ask you…

Avez-vous réservé ? = Do you have a reservation?

Combien êtes-vous ? = How many are you?

C’est pour X personnes? = It’s for X people?

Où désireriez-vous vous asseoir ? = Where would you like to sit?

Installez-vous. = Take a seat.

Prenez place. = Take your place.

Est-ce que vous préférez être en terrasse ou à l’intérieur ? = Would you like to sit outside or inside?

You might respond with…

Oui, on a réservé. = Yes, we have a reservation.

Non, nous n’avons pas réservé. = No, we don’t have a reservation.

Nous aimerions nous asseoir à côté de la fenêtre. = We would like to sit next to the window.

Nous préférerions être en terrasse. = We would like to sit outside.

Nous préférerions être à l’intérieur. = We would like to sit inside.

Common terms you could see on a menu:

L’entrée = Appetizer

Le plat = Entrée

Le dessert = Dessert

Plateau des fromages = Cheese plate

Un menu = Set menu

Une  formule = Combo

Un apéritif = Pre-dinner drink (aperitif)

Les vins = Wines

Les boissons chaudes = Hot drinks

Les boissons fraîches = Cold drinks

Les cocktails = Cocktails

Les bières pression  = Draft beers

Fait maison  = Homemade

Du jour = Of the day

L’eau plate = Still water

L’eau gazeuse = Sparkling water

Les viandes = Meats

Fruits de mer = Seafood

Then your waiter will arrive and might say some of the following…

Désiriez-vous quelque chose à boire ? = Would you like something to drink?

Voulez-vous une entrée ? = Would you like an appetizer?

Avez-vous fait votre choix ?  = Have you decided?

Je vous écoute. = I’m listening. (Go ahead.)

You could reply by saying…

Je voudrais… = I would like…

Je vais prendre… = I will have…

Je n’ai pas encore choisi. = I haven’t decided yet.

Est-ce que je peux avoir…? = Can I have…?

Pour moi ça sera… = For me, it’ll be…

Est-ce qu’il y a de la viande dans ce plat ? = Is their meat in this dish?

Je suis allergique à… = I’m allergic to…

les arachides  = peanut

le gluten = gluten

les crustacés = shellfish

oeufs  = eggs

Je suis diabétique . = I am diabetic.

Je suis végétarien(ne). = I’m vegetarian.

Je suis végan(e). = I’m vegan.

If you order meat the waiter could ask you…

Quelle type de cuisson ? = How would you like it cooked?

You could say…

bleu = rare

à point = medium

bien cuit  = well done

Before your meal your server could say…

Je vous souhaite un bon appétit. = I hope you enjoy your meal.

Je vous souhaite une bonne dégustation. = I hope you enjoy your meal.

Before your meal you and your dining partner could say the following to one another…

Bon appétit = Enjoy

Santé = Cheers

After the meal you or your server could say…

Avez-vous terminé ? = Have you finished?

Ça a été ? = Was everything okay?

C’était très bon. = It was very good.

Est-ce qu’on peut avoir l’addition ? = Can we have the check?

Oui, c’était délicieux. = Yes, it was delicious.

Oui, merci. = Yes, thank you.

French Food-related Terms in English (H2)

Finally, here are some terms you might see on American menus that have French roots:

À  la carte

This is another term used in both French and English that is used to describe food items that can be ordered individually or on the side.

À la mode

In French, à la mode means “in fashion,” but on a lot of American menus this French phrase means “with ice cream.” The reason for this English definition is unknown, but it was coined in 1903.

Au gratin

This is used to describe meals that are topped with breadcrumbs or cheese and cooked in the oven.

Crème brûlée

Literally meaning “burnt cream” this dessert’s name comes from the charred sugar on the surface of the creamy dessert.


This means kitchen in French, but can also be used to describe a type of food preparation.


Literally, hors-d’œuvre means “outside of the works” and is used in both English and French to talk about appetizers or starter foods.


In French, the word sauté means “to jump,” but in cooking, it is used to describe a way to cook in a pan over high heat with butter or oil.

With that, we wish you a bon appétit, and we hope that you enjoy your next French meal wherever you are in the world.

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