Published in Essentials
Dos and Don’ts of Eating In Europe
Everyone gets ripped off at one time or another while travelling and it seems to be more common when there can be a language barrier. So we are going to do our best to arm you with a little bit of knowledge to avoid being ripped off in Europe’s restaurants and cafes so you can get back to the serious business of eating some of Europe’s most delicious food.
The farther away from a tourist site you eat, the less likely you are to be ripped off
It’s a sad truth that in some less-than-honest establishments, tourists can be seen as easy prey. Restaurants and cafes right near the big tourist sites are the most likely candidates. It’s not always the case of course, but well-located eateries that don’t cater to a local (and therefore repeat) market are more likely to charge inflated prices.
Avoid restaurants and cafes with a host outside forcing you in.
Another tip-off that you’re in a touristy establishment: There’s a “host” outside the door asking you to come in (any restaurant catering to locals, won’t have this since they’ll rely on word-of-mouth)
Where you sit can really affect the price
It is quite common in cities like Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam that you will have to charge differently depending on where you sit. In Rome for example, you will find it cheaper to have a coffee or drink at the bar and may notice different prices for “banco” (standing) and one for “tavolo” (sitting).
Also in places like Paris and many other European cities restaurants may charge extra to sit outside ‘al fresco’, so be aware of any charges.
Understanding charges on your bill
You may find in some European cities that there can be extra fees or charges on your bill. In Rome, for example, you may see ‘“pane e coperto’ on your bill which is a charge for your bread that is generally not per basket but per head. You may also find almost all restaurants in Europe will charge you for water.
Understanding when to tip
Restaurant tips are more modest in Europe than in America. At restaurants, check the menu to see if service is included; if it isn’t, a tip of 5–10 percent is normal. In most places, 10 percent is a big tip. As a matter of principle, if not economy, the local price should prevail. Please believe me — tipping 15 or 20 percent in Europe is unnecessary, if not culturally ignorant.
Tipping is an issue only at restaurants that have waiters and waitresses. If you order your food at a counter (in a pub, for example), don’t tip. The “service charge” (Servizio in Italian, service in French, servicio in Spanish) can be handled in different ways. Sometimes the menu will note that the service is included (“servizio incluso”), meaning that the prices listed on the menu already have this charge built in. When the service is not included (“servizio non incluso”), the service charge might show up as a separate line item at the end of your bill.
If you can, check for reviews
The best way to know what you're getting before you get it is to look at genuine non-biased reviews. By using Tripadvisor or Mytable, which both offer an honest rating of the restaurant, bar or cafe. You can also search restaurants near you and can also specify if you want cheap eats or fancy 5-star cuisine.
Find A Park, Pack a picnic
To keep the cost down and live like a local,grab a take-away sandwich from a bakery or Supermarket and have a picnic. Picnics can be an adventurous money saving option. Also be aware In stores, unrefrigerated soft drinks, bottled water, and beer are one-third the price of cold drinks. Avoid buying drinks to go at streetside stands; you'll find them far cheaper in a shop.
Be aware of cultural differences
Keep in mind that by Uk/American standards, many Europeans such as the French undercook meats: rare or saignantis close to raw; medium or à point is rare; and well-done or bien cuit is medium. Also keep in mind that in an around certain cities of Europe you may find raw eggs put on top of items such as Pizza.
Have fun and enjoy some of the best Cuisines in the world.