European Restaurant Rules
A small, handwritten menu in the local language is a good sign.
After graduating from high school, I took my first trip to
In fact, one of my biggest passions these days is to find great restaurants in
To find a good restaurant, ask your hotel receptionist, or head away from the tourist center and stroll around until you find a place with a happy crowd of locals. I look for menus (usually posted outside), handwritten in the native language and offering a small selection. This means they're cooking what was fresh in the market that morning for loyal, return customers. If no menu is posted, ask to see one. And be aware the word "menu" can mean a fixed-price meal, particularly in
Many small eateries offer an economical "menu of the day" (known as "menu del dia" in
Speaking of hours, restaurants and pubs in
To save money at restaurants, order smartly. Main dishes are often big enough to split. Add a bowl of soup or something small to supplement. Don't worry about coming off as cheap -- prices are high for Europeans, too. Waiters are generally understanding and accommodating. But be careful in
A carafe of wine or a glass of beer are generally affordable at restaurants, but are priced so high in Scandinavia that it's downright sobering.
To really save money, seek out alternatives to restaurants. Ethnic eateries are usually cheap and provide a welcome break from
One of the biggest surprises for Americans at
Tips are considered a small bonus to reward great service. Usually you can just round up the bill a bit. In many countries, a 5 percent tip is adequate and 10 verges on excessive. Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent in
Of course, each country has its own quirks when it comes to dining. Spaniards eat dinner very late (after
Specialties add spice to your travels. Try an Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table) in
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