The Do’s and Don’ts of Restaurant Etiquette

dos and don ts of restaurant etiquette

Below are a few dining etiquette rules you should keep in mind for proper dining etiquette, from ordering the correct food items to passing salt and pepper properly.

As soon as you’re seated, unfold and place your napkin on your lap. It should remain there until the end of your meal has concluded unless necessary to blow your nose or leave for any reason.


Some dining etiquette rules are straightforward, like not talking while your mouth is full or not clinking glasses of Champagne, while other guidelines can be more complex; for example if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions it’s appropriate to inform wait staff in a discreet way of them.

As the host, it is your duty to arrive at the restaurant before your guests and inform the maitre d’ of any specific seating preferences you would prefer (e.g. first seating to the left of the door or best seat with an excellent view).

Hold your fork or spoon with care in the right hand and avoid making gestures with it. Additionally, it is polite to always keep one hand free – for example by holding a napkin instead of resting your elbow on the table or stretching out over it – while simultaneously not placing your elbows or arms anywhere on it. If silverware gets dropped accidentally or broken accidentally signal to wait staff immediately so they can provide replacement pieces.


Restaurant etiquette has fallen in recent years for various reasons, and this could have something to do with our decreasing patience, feeling self-important when dining out or general lack of social skills. Unfortunately, this situation is regrettable since our behavior at the table can have lasting repercussions beyond simple dining faux pas.

When making changes, always show respect for both your hostess and any guests still waiting to be seated by asking politely and quickly for relocation. By being courteous to other diners who may still require seating arrangements.

TIP YOUR SERVER ON THE FULL AMOUNT OF YOUR BILL, even if they have given a discount for some part of your meal. This is the best way to show your appreciation and show that a job well done was accomplished.

Table Manners

No matter whether we are dining at an elegant formal dinner or the cozy comfort of family meals, table manners bring respect into our interactions. Here are a few rules all diners should abide by when dining.

Keep Your Elbows Off the Table — Sit Up Straight Avoid Hunching Over Your Plate or Slouching Back In Your Chair, as this can appear rude and disinterested to others.

Food and beverages should always be served from your left, with condiments passed around counterclockwise. Never reach across the table to grab an item if something is too far from you; ask that it be brought closer, or have the waiter deliver it elsewhere.

It is acceptable and discreetly signal the waiter if your meal does not meet with your expectations, tastes spoiled or contains pests. Furthermore, you should notify him if an utensil has fallen to the floor that requires replacing immediately.

Passing Food

As a rule of thumb, food should be passed around a table counterclockwise for optimal results and to prevent collisions. However, if someone sitting just 1-2 places away asks directly for something from you instead, it is okay to break with convention and pass it directly to them instead.

Make sure that you use both hands when holding plates or utensils, and avoid using your utensils to point at people or things. Once finished using an item, place it neatly in front of your plate or table once finished using it.

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Complaining publicly about food or service – particularly when speaking for yourself but not directly at your table – is another major dining faux pas, and could easily offend other guests as well as the host or chef of the establishment.