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How to Order Food in French

9 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of French Words and Phrases for Traveling

Knowing how to order food in French is essential, whether you're on a short visit to a French-speaking country or planning to live there. Eating out at French restaurants and cafes can be a lot of fun, especially if you know some basic restaurant (rehs-toh-rahn) (restaurant) vocabulary.

The following phrases might help you when you're dining at a restaurant.

  • Je voudrais de l’eau. (zhuh-voo-dreh- dehl-oh) (I would like some water.)

  • Servez-vous du jus d’orange? (Sehr-veh-voo dew zhew doh-rahnzh) (Do you serve orange juice?)

  • Quelle sorte de légumes avez-vous? (kehl-sohrt deh leh-gewm aveh-voo) (What kind of vegetables you have?)

  • Quelle sorte de poissons avez-vous au menu? (kehl sohrt deh pwa-sohn aveh-voo oh meh-nee) (What kind of fish is on the menu?)

  • Quel est le plat du jour? (kehl eh leh plah dew zhoor) (What is today’s special?)

  • Je voudrais du pain, s'il vous plait. (zhu-voo-dreh dew pan, seel-voo-pleh) (I’d like some bread, please.)

Hungry? Which meal?

To tell someone you're hungry in French, say J'ai faim. (zheh fehm) (I’m hungry) or Je veux manger (zhuh veh mahn-zhehr) (I want to eat). If you want to ask somebody if he or she is hungry, you say Êtes vous affamé (eh-teh-voo ah-fah-meh) (Are you hungry?).

In French-speaking countries, as in most of the rest of the world, there are three main repas (ruh-pah) (meals) of the day:

petit déjeuner (puh-tee day-zhuh-nay) (breakfast)
déjeuner (day-zhuh-nay) (lunch)
diner (dee-nay) (dinner)

Menu items

Here are some food (nourriture) items you can order.

banane (ba-naN) [f] (banana)
crudités (krew-dee-tay) [f] (raw vegetables)
fraise (frehz) [f] (strawberry)
fromage (fro-mazh) [m] (cheese)
fruits (lay frwee) [m] (fruit)
glace (glahs) [f] (ice cream)
légumes (lay-gewm) [m] (vegetables)
pain (pan) [m] (bread)
petits pois (puh-tee pwa) [m] (peas)
poisson (pwa-sohn) [m] (fish)
poivre (pwavr) [m] (pepper)
pomme (pohm) [f] (apple)
pommes de terre (pohm duh tehr) [f] (potatoes)
porc (pohr) [m] (pork)
poulet (poo-leh) [m] (chicken)
sel (sehl) [m] (salt)
sucre (sewkr) [m] (sugar)
tomate (to-maht) [f] (tomato)
veau (vo) [m] (veal)
viande (vyahnd) [f] (meat)

You might want to use the following adjectives to describe to your garçon (gahr-sohN)/ serveur (sehr-vuhr) (waiter/waitress) how you want the food prepared.

chaud (sho) (warm; hot)
petit (puh-teet) (small; short)
grand (grahNd) (big; tall; large)
froid (frwah) (cold)

Thirst quenchers

To tell someone you're thirsty in French, say J'ai soif. When you want to ask somebody whether he or she is thirsty, you say avez-vous (Are you thirsty?). To order your drink, say je voudrais . . . (I would like . . .). Then add the name of the drink you want.

café (kah-fay) (coffee [m])
thé (tay) (tea [m])
bière (byehr) (beer [f])
eau (lo) (water [f])
vin (van) (wine [m])

Time to pay up

After you're done eating, you'll need to know these words:

addition (ah-dee-syohn) [f] (check)
pourboire (poor-bwar) [m] (tip)
billet (bee-yeh) [m] (ticket)
carte de crédit (kahr-tuh duh cray-dee) [f] (credit card)
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