10 Restaurant TABOOS: Behaviors You Should Always Avoid

By Krystal Brown

In order to ensure a pleasant dining experience for everyone involved, it is crucial to be aware of and avoid certain negative behaviors that should never be exhibited at a restaurant.

Don’t Snap Your Fingers or Wave Your Arms to Get the Server’s Attention

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This is very impolite and can make the server feel like you are treating them like a servant. Instead, make eye contact and smile politely, or raise your hand slightly if they are busy. Wait patiently until they come to your table, and thank them for their service.

Don’t Ask for Too Many Substitutions or Modifications to Your Order

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While most restaurants are happy to accommodate reasonable requests, such as leaving out an ingredient you are allergic to or swapping fries for salad, asking for too many changes can be frustrating for the kitchen staff and slow down the service for everyone. If you have a lot of dietary restrictions or preferences, it might be better to choose a different restaurant that suits your needs better or cook at home.

Don’t Complain About the Food or Service Without a Good Reason 

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If there is something genuinely wrong with your meal, such as it being undercooked, overcooked, spoiled, or not what you ordered, you have the right to politely inform the server and ask for a replacement or a refund. However, if you are just being picky, rude, or unrealistic, you are being unfair to the restaurant and wasting their time and resources. For example, don’t send back your steak because it is too rare when you ordered it medium-rare, or complain that your soup is too salty when you added extra salt yourself.

Don’t Use Your Phone at the Table

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Nothing is more annoying than having a conversation with someone who is constantly checking their phone, texting, or taking calls. It’s rude and disrespectful to the people you’re with and the people around you. Put your phone away and enjoy the company of your friends and family. If you need to use your phone, excuse yourself and go outside or to the restroom.

Don’t Leave a Mess on the Table

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When you’re done eating, don’t leave your napkins, utensils, plates, or glasses scattered all over the table. Stack them neatly and wipe any spills or crumbs with your napkin. Don’t leave any food on your plate that you didn’t eat unless you want to take it home. And don’t leave any trash on the floor or under the table.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

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When you’re finished eating and paying your bill, don’t linger at the table for too long, especially if the restaurant is busy or has a waiting list. Be considerate of other customers who want to enjoy their meal as well. If you want to chat with your friends or family, move to the bar or lounge area, or go somewhere else.

Never Send Food Back Without a Reason

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While it’s perfectly acceptable to send a dish back if it is not prepared according to your order or if there is a genuine issue with the food, it is important not to abuse this privilege. Sending back a dish simply because you didn’t like it or changing your mind after ordering can be seen as wasteful and unfair to the kitchen staff. Exercise discretion and communicate your concerns politely and reasonably.

Never Ignore Reservations

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If you’ve made a reservation at a restaurant, it’s crucial to honor it. Restaurants carefully plan their seating arrangements to accommodate the reservations they receive. By arriving late or not showing up at all, you disrupt their scheduling and inconvenience both the staff and other customers. If your plans change, make sure to cancel the reservation well in advance as a courtesy.

Never Talk Loudly or Use the Speakerphone

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Restaurants are places where people go to enjoy a meal and engage in conversations. Speaking loudly or using speakerphone conversations disturbs the ambiance and can be disruptive to other diners. Be mindful of your volume and keep personal conversations private by using headphones or stepping outside if necessary.

Never Split Bills Unequally

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Splitting the bill with your dining companions is a common practice, especially when dining in groups. However, it’s important to split the bill equally or in a fair manner agreed upon by all parties. Complicating the process with intricate calculations or insisting on separate checks for small items can inconvenience the staff and slow down the payment process.

Never Assume Unlimited Refills

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While many restaurants offer free refills on certain beverages like soda or iced tea, it’s important not to abuse this policy. Continuously requesting refills without ordering additional items can be seen as taking advantage of the establishment’s hospitality. Be mindful of your consumption and order refills in moderation.

Never Haggle Over Prices

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Restaurants have set prices for their menu items, and it’s important to respect and accept them. Attempting to negotiate or haggle over prices is inappropriate and puts the staff in an uncomfortable position. If you have a strict budget, it’s best to choose a restaurant that aligns with your financial expectations beforehand.

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