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How to Order Top-Notch German Food

by Rosetta Stone

To experience a country’s culture, you have to get to know their food! In Germany, you’ll find a wealth of opportunities to eat well. From Currywurst to Schnitzel, German food capitalizes on old standbys and new favorites that locals and hungry travelers alike will enjoy. 

It would be tragic to visit Germany and miss out on a beloved dish. To ensure you make the most of every menu, here’s a comprehensive list of German dining vocabulary to help you eat through everything Germany has to offer, including: 

  • Must-try German food 
  • How to order food in German 
  • How to order at a fine dining restaurant in German 
  • Common menu words and items in German 
  • Understanding German fast food culture 
  • German biergarten basics

Let’s dive into the good stuff. 

The best German foods to try 

With so many unique dishes, it’s hard to condense German cuisine into a single list. If you have to pack your dining tour into the span of several days or weeks, this top 10 list of German foods is the perfect place to start. 

BratwurstGrilled or pan fried sausage.
SchnitzelA thin, breaded, fried cutlet typically made from pork. 
SpaetzleSimilar to pasta, spaetzle is often served as an accompaniment to schnitzel. 
ReibekuchenA fried potato pancake, similar to a latke and often served with applesauce. It’s a popular staple at seasonal Christmas markets. 
KartoffelknödelPotato dumplings, reminiscent of Matzo balls or the satisfying, doughy spheres adorning the classic American dish of chicken and dumplings. 
MaultaschenThe German equivalent to Italy’s ravioli, though Maultaschen is even more versatile, varying from sweet to savory. 
RinderrouladenSliced beef stuffed with bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles. 
BretzelThe iconic German pretzel. 
BauernbrotA fruit-studded loaf of Stollen might catch the eye of visiting tourists, but Bauernbrot is the tastier, everyday staple loaf that can’t be missed.  
ApfelstrudelStrudel describes the swirl in this buttery, flaky, apple-studded desert. 

How to order food in German

Whether you’re at a Cafe or a Biergarten, you’ll need to know basic sentences to help you request what food (das Essen) you want, ask for recommendations, and pay the bill. Plus, when the food is good, it’s always nice to let the staff know that your meal exceeded expectations. Below, you’ll find phrases you can use in any dining situation. 

Haben Sie…?Do you have…? 
Was können Sie empfehlen?What can you recommend? 
Was sind vegetarische Optionen?What are the vegetarian options? 
Gibt es vegane Optionen?What are the vegan options? 
I’m allergic to…Ich bin allergisch gegen…
Ich hätte gerne…I would like to have…
die Speisekartethe menu
Das ist alles, danke.That’s all, thank you
Das Essen schmeckt lecker!The food tastes very good! 
Das war vorzüglich!That was delicious! 
Zum Wohl! / Prost!Cheers! 
Ich bin voll./Ich bin satt.I’m so full
Ich möchte bitte bezahlen.I would like to pay
Die Rechnung, bitteThe bill, please
Kann ich mit EC-Karte zahlen?Do you take debit cards? 
Kann ich mit Kreditkarte zahlen? Do you take credit cards? 
Stimmt so!Keep the change! 

How to order at a fine dining restaurant in German

Fine dining is by no means the norm in Germany; there’s good food to be had in every setting. But if you’re looking to treat yourself to something a little more upscale—and if you actually remember to make that reservation—you’ll want to expand your vocabulary to make the most of it.  

Ich würde gerne einen Tisch reservieren…I’d like to reserve a table…
Ich hätte gerne einen Tisch für zwei Personen, bitte.I’d like a table for two, please. 
Ich habe einen Tisch auf den Namen ……. reserviert.I made a reservation under the name…
Ich würde gerne einen Tisch für zwei Personen, für heute um neunzehn Uhr auf den Namen ….. reservieren.I’d like to reserve a table for two at seven o’clock today under the name…
Haben Sie Platz für eine Gruppe von vier Personen?Do you have any tables available for a group of four?
Wie lang ist die Wartezeit?How long is the wait? 
Ich hätte gerne ein Glas Wein, bitte.I would like to have a glass of wine, please. 
Kann ich bitte einen Cocktail bekommen?May I please order a cocktail?
Haben Sie…? Do you have…? 
eine Speisekarte auf EnglischA menu in English
eine KinderkarteA children’s menu
eine DessertkarteA dessert menu
eine WeinkarteA wine menu
eine GetränkekarteA beverage menu
Bieten Sie Spezialitäten der Region an?Do you offer regional specialties? 
Guten Appetit! Enjoy your meal!

Common menu words and items in German

Schnitzel is umwerfend (“amazing”)—so crispy and perfectly savory, you might actually want to eat it for every Mahlzeit (“meal”) you have in Germany. Whether you should is a whole different question. When you need a break from the German classics, these words and phrases will help you identify the basics on every menu. 

AufschnittCold cuts
Früchte; ObstFruit
Sandwich/belegtes BrotSandwich

Understanding German fast food culture 

Fast food has earned a permanent place in Germany’s food scene, where outlets are called Imbissbude. Fortunately, your options are much wider and more unique than the Golden Arches. Currywurst—a fried Bratwurst in a rich curry sauce—is a staple for street-side, late-night eats, as is the Döner kebab from Turkey. When you’re in the mood for something fast and filling, here are the phrases you can lean on to get exactly what you’re craving. 

Ich habe Hunger auf eine Bratwurst.I am hungry for a bratwurst. 
Ich habe Appetit auf eine Currywurst mit Pommes.I’m in the mood for a bratwurst with curry sauce and french fries. 
Ich hätte gerne…I’d like…
Pommes rot-weißA serving of fries, red and white (ketchup and mayonnaise) 
ein Döner mit AllemA döner with everything
ein belegtes BrötchenA sandwich roll
ein halbes HähnchenHalf of a grilled chicken
Bitte mit extra …Please double up on…
Könnte ich eine halbe Portion bekommen?Could I get half a serving? 
Zum mitnehmen, bitte.To go, please. 
Zum hier essen, bitte.For here, please. 
Können Sie das bitte einpacken?Could you box it up please? 
Haben Sie eine Tüte?Do you have a bag? 

German Biergärten basics 

Biergärten are a staple throughout Germany, but you’ll also find them in Switzerland and Austria, where many locals speak German! They’re known for their open, communal atmosphere. Since they’re primarily outdoors, they’re best enjoyed in the warmer months, between April and October. Biergärten typically serve food, but beer is the main attraction. The list of phrases below can help you enjoy every pint: 

Ein Bier, bitte. One beer, please. 
Können wir hier sitzen?Can we sit here? 
Könnte ich die Getränkekarte sehen?Could I please see the drinks menu? 
Was mögen Sie hier am liebsten?What’s your favorite here? 
Vielen Dank!Many thanks! 
Noch ein Bier bitte! Another, please! 
Pils / Pilsner / PilsenerA crisp and hoppy beer. 
WeißbierA malty, bready, fruity wheat beer. 
KölschSimilar to a Pilsner, this beer is slightly less bitter and served in a much smaller glass.
DunklesA dark beer.
Radler/AlsterA light beer mixed with lemon soda. 

Boost your German vocabulary with Rosetta Stone

With so much amazing food to be had across Germany, you’ll have ample opportunity to put these phrases to good use! 

If you want to take your German to the next level, Rosetta Stone has everything you need. From bite-sized lessons to immediate pronunciation feedback, you’ll learn every word naturally and immersively. No vocabulary lists or flashcards required. 

Ready to jump in? Start your first lesson today at www.rosettastone.com

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