1. My husband cringes anytime a server asks “how’s everything tasting?” Once a server asked, “how are we tasting over here?” It almost sent him over the edge!

  2. This would also be great from the servers side.

    1. Seeing a large party sat in your section
    2. Someone is wearing a sash.
    3. someone says they are ready to only keep looking at the menu when you have 8 other tables to go to
    4. asking for no oil
    5. asking if the kitchen will make you a chicken salad because you see a roast chicken is offered and a side salad
    6. someone not liking the cocktail you described as bitter because they think its bitter
    7. watching the pen come out when the check comes to divide the amount onto 10 credit cards in odd amounts
    8. asking for a well done steak and complaining about how long it takes even though you came to the restaurant 30 minutes before the lake game and thought you could get a well done steak in that time.
    9. walking up in that awkward moment and sensing the annoyance on the customers face. Hey! you came here to eat, and i have to serve you! Which means I must talk to you.

    There is a long positives list too!

  3. Ellen says...

    “Waiter comes at an intense emotional moment” would be #1 on the list of range of server emotions too.

    • judith says...

      Touche’.

  4. Andrea says...

    Once a year or so (or while in vacation), my husband and I will go to a top restaurant for dinner. We know we’re out of our league, but try and enjoy the experience and the food. It could be intimidating, but we try and do our best and remember that those people who are serving us are people just like us and not judgment machines.

  5. Elspeth says...

    Requirement to share!!

  6. Julia says...

    1. My kids being run over by a busy waiter.
    2. My kids knocking over their food and drinks (several times!)
    3. My kids starting to spoil the meal by either being jealous of their sipplings food or by starting a fight for no reason.
    4. Me oblivious to enjoy my food because so absorbed by anxiety 1 and 2.
    5. Me and my husband leaving the restaurant frustrated
    PS: I LOVE my family – but at the moment we rather eat at home (LOL).

    • Julia says...

      What a bad misspelling: “siblings” of course!

  7. E says...

    Figuring out how to eat lobster or crab. I order it infrequently and never remember how to get into the packaging! It’s like trying to open a package of batteries.

    All fine dining: am I dressed well enough? Is a squid ink reduction actually good? Do I tip more because this place is so fancy? Am I supposed to talk very quietly like I’m in a library?

  8. Amber says...

    Menus with no prices. My husband and I were at a fancy little brunch spot in Tulum, and walked in looking all cool and confident, sat down at our table, and our waiter brought us water, so were were COMITTED. But then the menu had no prices, and the restaurant only took cash. We were so stressed out that we would end up having to wash dishes to “pay” for our meal that we couldn’t afford, we’d be found out as totally NOT chic and cool. It all worked out in the end, and the food was good!

  9. patricia blaettler says...

    Weird restaurant thing: We dine at a local restaurant every Friday at 6:00.
    We are very conscious of getting there right on schedule because it fills up.
    For two weeks in a row now, we were told we’d have to wait for a table even though there was a table open. It was ‘reserved’. I said, “I thought you didn’t take reservations.” “Well we don’t between 6 and 8. (?) But if you call ahead…” I stewed as that table sat open for over half an hour–twice now.
    We’ve been dining at this place same time every week for years!
    Shaking my head… And I promise we are low maintenance customers!

    • Erica says...

      Server (and occasional diner) here! I totally commiserate about the unclear reservation policy at the restaurant. The bit about a table being open for over half hour is pretty typical, though. Dinner service usually takes at least an hour, and lots of people tend to linger even longer on the weekends or if they order wine. So, hosts/servers/restaurant managers will hesitate to seat someone at a table that has an upcoming reservation unless they are sure that the table can be cleared, bussed, cleaned, and set in time for the incoming party. This is the dark side of reservations – they can be incredibly frustrating for diners and restaurant workers alike because they have the potential to make the whole evening inefficient. I’m curious – since you go to this restaurant every week on the earlier side, maybe they would be open to creating a standing reservation for you?

  10. Marcie says...

    Looks like no one has mentioned my big anxiety at restaurants….when you sit down and then no one pays any attention to you and you’re all “hmmm…no one sees us or remembers we sat down, do I say something?” And you know those other people who are ordering sat down after you did. Usually, you just need to be patient, but yikes!
    And then on the other end….”So they remember we’re still here? Don’t they want us to pay and move along?”

  11. Emily says...

    When you can see the people waiting to be seated and they are resentfully watching you take every bite.

  12. Tara says...

    Good to know it’s not just me! I am the one that thinks about where I sit in a restaurant. I hate sitting in the middle of a room it feels like EVERYONE is watching you.

  13. Julia says...

    “How are those first few bites tasting?”

    UGH.

    • Michelle says...

      “fine, but my full mouth is preventing me from talking to you.”

      I also HATE this.

    • Ellen says...

      I’ve worked as a server at a fancy restaurant for years, and I just wanted to say that while that can be very annoying to hear (and it’s even annoying sometimes to have to ask!), it’s an important part of making sure that guests are satisfied. We’re required to ask in the first few minutes how the food is (in a polite, noncreepy way, hopefully) because if there is a problem with the food it’s so much easier to fix it then! It’s really a genuine concern to make sure the restaurant has done their part right, and fix it if not.

    • Erica says...

      Believe me, most servers hate asking this question as well, but it does serve a purpose! Lots of diners are afraid to speak up when there is an issue with their meal, or if they need some kind of sauce, salt, etc. They are also sort of “stuck” in their seats. So, servers try to be proactive and open the door to that conversation. Maybe there are better ways to open up this server-diner dialogue, though!

  14. Sarah says...

    I’m not that anxious in restaurants because there’s a general formula to follow and people mind their business usually. It’s BARS that I absolutely dread. I don’t even go to bars anymore because I can’t handle the anxiety!

  15. Annie says...

    As someone who loves to eat out, I think the most important thing to remember is that restaurant staff are people too. I’ve found if I have done something embarrassing and laugh it off with the staff member with me at the time, it actually creates a wonderful and warm feeling of being in it together.

    • Claire says...

      Agreed. I spent a good number of years in the restaurant business, and given the resentment and anxiety expressed in some of the comments, it seems worth pointing out that servers have a job to do, and that is primarily to make sure that diners have an enjoyable meal. In addition to whatever their management is asking them to prioritize, that includes informing you of any off-menu specials or menu changes, presenting a bottle of wine before opening it to make sure it is what you ordered, checking in periodically to see if you need something or to ask how your food is, and responding to concerns, questions, or complaints. Civility, courtesy, respect and a certain amount of professional friendliness go along with these transactions. If the interactions make you anxious for some reason, remember that we share responsibility for what we contribute to the communication and experience, and falling back on courtesy and respect is always a win. The customer has relatively greater leverage and influence, and a server is often in a position of relative powerlessness, and is at the mercy of the customer’s whims. Whatever your discomfort with being asked how your food is, I can promise you that a server has had to be on the receiving end of all manner of rudeness and weirdness, some of which would make your hair stand on end. Restaurant work environments are notoriously difficult, especially for women. So being able to communicate well and ask for what you need to enjoy your meal will go a long way to ensuring you have a pleasant experience. Often a simple “no, thank you” or “yes, please”, or other feedback courteously offered will do the trick. Because whatever frustrations or anxieties we have, those likely are not going to be eased by treating someone with unkindness or contempt. As Dave Barry says, “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.”

    • judith says...

      VERY well-stated, Claire. Amen, sister, I say, AMEN! Wish I’d said it myself. And I too, was a waitress once upon a time.

  16. Heather says...

    My biggest restaurant anxiety is trying to eat sushi when the pieces are clearly intended to be eaten in one bite but are slightly too large to do so comfortably. My nightmare scenario actually happened recently when I took a bite of sweet potato roll and then realized, too late, that I wasn’t going to be able to swallow it. It lodged in the back of my throat and I started to choke, then panicked as I realized it was stuck. Should i flag down the waitress? Should I run out of the restaurant so that the other patrons wouldn’t have to witness my struggle? Would I be carried out of this restaurant on a stretcher??
    Finally, I managed to cough the roll up into my lap, eyes watering and face bright red. The friend I was eating with was super understanding (of course) and the waitress hurried over to make sure I was okay, but ugh ugh ugh.

    • Zoe says...

      This happened to me on a date! I tried to bite a piece of kingfish nigiri in half and it wouldn’t break off so I shoved the whole thing in my mouth and promptly choked, and had to spit it back onto my plate. My date was a total gentleman about it and pretended nothing had happened (after checking I was ok) but I was mortified, and we didn’t last much longer after that!

  17. Jenna Brown says...

    Getting asked “how is everything?”, when you were just complaining to your dinner companion about mediocre. I always say good! even when its not that great because what are they going to do about it! Ha.

    • Lauren says...

      As a sever, this is one of my biggest pet peeves! I’m good at reading a table and can usually see through the fake “good”. We’re required to ask this, and a good restaurant will make you something different if you aren’t 100% enjoying your “mediocre” meal.

    • Erica says...

      If a server comes over to ask you how things are going right after you were complaining about it to your dining companion, chances are they already heard you! The server’s job is to make sure your experience is a pleasant one – if there is something the restaurant could do better (within reason), they want to hear it. I think honesty is the best route here – it is absolutely possible to express dissatisfaction while still being polite. A good server will offer you some options, which may include a discount, free dessert, or even a new meal! What’s to lose?

  18. Marie says...

    One particular friend gives me dining anxiety. She always wants to share each others orders and split the cost. We are the vegetarians of the group. I once paid half of her dinner and didn’t eat any of it. While she proceeded to eat half of mine. We both didn’t like what she ordered. I get it, people want to have more options. But I’ve never wanted to eat another person’s dinner just because mine turned out bad. How can I tell her I want to pay for my own food and eat my own food and don’t need to have a “bite” of hers.

    • bisbee says...

      Tell her exactly what you just said! You can say it in a way that paints you as the “strange” one if that makes it easier. Don’t go along with anything that makes you uncomfortable!

    • Sara says...

      I understand where you’re coming from, that would really bother me. I’m a big sharer when eating out with my husband and certain friends (although I’m always checking to make sure everyone’s ok with sharing because sometimes you just want your own darn food!), but I have one friend that I’m not crazy about sharing with all the time because we have some different tastes and she ALWAYS wants to share.

      You could try something like, “Oh I’m really excited about *insert dish name here* and not really in the mood for anything else. I think I’m just going to get my own meal, but thanks for offering to share!”

      Good luck!

  19. Reem says...

    Ordering something you love but make all the time at home is such an anxiety! lol. I barely eat out anymore because I can’t help but feel like I should/could just make it at home and save the money…I miss the days when I was more carefree with my money : )

  20. Louisa says...

    The whole pepper presentation is so uncomfortable.
    (1) Why?? Is pepper so expensive I can’t be trusted with it?
    (2) I don’t pepper my salad at home, so I guess I don’t need pepper, but since you’re offering maybe I do?
    (3) I don’t think it’s enough pepper but the waiter is looking at me like, “Isn’t this enough?” So I say “oh, that’s fine. Yes.”

    • Kristyn says...

      You are hilarious!

    • Rue says...

      Haha this reminds me of SATC scene with waiter presenting huge pepper shaker :D

    • Lina says...

      Love this! hahahaha

  21. Meg says...

    As a former waitress, I’m hyper-aware of the number of tables our waitress has, how quickly they are being sat, etc. So I get anxious about not being ready to order when they come. Or when my husband wants to give them our drink, appetizer, meal order right off the bat when I know that messes with their flow…

  22. judith says...

    I admit to being fascinated that people actually have anxiety over any of this. Go out to dinner and RELAX! You are the customer! You are paying! Who cares if someone is looking at you or you don’t know what to order? Just ask the waiter to come back in a few minutes. Or say, “What looks good tonight?” If after delivering your dinner, they say, “How is the food?” and you are not ready to answer, simply say, “I’ll let you know in a few minutes.” Ask how to pronounce something if you are unsure. If one of your party suggests you split the check evenly, say, “Oh, I wouldn’t hear of it; it may be unfair to the rest of you. I’ll just pay for what I ordered.” OR, sneakily ask the waiter for separate checks! Just go out and enjoy yourselves and quit overthinking it.

    • Sabrina Izaguirre says...

      Great ADVISE!!!

    • Claire says...

      Yup. Exactly.

  23. polyana says...

    When the menu has way too many options, and you get FOMO if you order the wrong thing!

    I always appreciate when the server says his or her name right at the beginning, which puts me at ease. I used to be a waitress, and it was the worst when clients would say “hey you” or wave frantically to call mem and sometimes it was my fault, because on busy nights, I’d forget to introduce myself. So today, if the person who’s taking care of our table doesn’t say his or her name, or it’s not on a name tag, I’ll ask, and then if we need anything, I get less anxious to try to hail them down by saying “Hey So-and-So, would you mind coming over when you get a minute”, instead of “HEY! WAITER!”

  24. Anon says...

    Its fascinating to read all these comments and how seemingly small things can get someone so anxious.
    With no intention of offending any highly sensitive or anxious people,I would like to how can I raise a more confident child ? or how to help him to face his anxieties ?

    • judith says...

      Always, always reinforce good/appropriate behavior. Say you are proud of the way your child handled a particular situation, as soon as you can after you see it happen. Reinforce to them that they are doing the right thing. Give them scenarios (make a game of it) and ask them how they would handle it. Then, assuming they gave a good answer, tell them they are right! Take baby steps along with them in facing their difficult situations. Let them know you are by their side, always. If a teacher or other adult reports something good they did in this area, be sure and bring it up to them later. Let them know it is normal to sometimes feel anxious. Tell them about a similar situation with yourself and how you handled it. All of this must be age-appropriate, of course, but if you pay attention, you will find many opportunities to do this. If you let the child know that you believe in him/her, it will be easier for them to adopt that characteristic. Never stop believing in the child and encourage them to do the same for themselves. Both of you can do it!

    • L says...

      I have really bad social anxiety and I’m not offended but my initial thought was “just do that opposite of whatever my mom did”… she is not a socially anxious person but does have a lot of regular anxiety so that probably didn’t help.

    • Claire says...

      Model good etiquette, and coach them on social interactions and common courtesy. My husband taught my son from a young age how to meet and introduce himself to someone (look them in the eye, offer his hand to shake, and say “Hi, I’m (name). It’s nice to meet you.”). Interpersonal and social situations can be complex and having a script to fall back on can help put everyone at ease.

    • Kat O says...

      Teach your kids a growth mindset! We get anxious when we think we’re going to make a mistake or do something awkward, and when we see that mistake as a sign of failure rather than growth. Let them know it’s okay to make mistakes and everything takes practice and failure is normal. (I know it seems like I’m getting WAY larger than the topic of restaurant anxieties, but I promise it’s all related. I’m both a therapist AND a highly anxious person haha!) Also a lot of these anxieties stem from the misperception that everyone else notices or cares about us and what we’re doing – and they’re not! Don’t send this message to your kids; don’t be self-critical or overly judgmental of others. My mother was always so preoccupied with her appearance (and mine) and it led me to believe EVERY little thing I did was important and up for judgment, and it’s just not. Raise them to be confident in who they are and their ability to solve problems (see growth mindset), and that takes away a lot of anxieties about being caught with your mouth full or not knowing where the bathroom is.

      When I was 20 I went to Paris by myself for the first time, and one of my hostel roommates was this Brazilian woman who, every time she did something silly or embarrassing, just laughed and said “ah, f*** it!” It totally changed my perspective, and while I don’t necessarily advocate for shouting curse words around your kids, that attitude is truly amazing and very liberating :)

  25. Colleen S says...

    The fear of walking into the kitchen instead of the bathroom is a thing of mine. There is a chain of restaurants called Coco’s that the kitchen and bathrooms are in extremely close proximity. And the signs aren’t exactly clear, so I’ve come close to walking into the diner-style area where the kitchen is rather than the restrooms, which are a few feet back.

  26. Andrea says...

    My anxiety is when my water glass keeps getting refilled every time I take a sip! I honestly will keep drinking if there is a glass in front of me, which means a lot of bathroom breaks. I’ve had to stop waiters from refilling my glass anymore.

    I also hate when casual places bring straws with all drinks. I’m a grown up, I can use a big glass! It’s so wasteful to create more plastic litter. I see this so much in the Midwest when we visit. I try and remember to speak up before straws appear unbidden–I’ve had a lot of conversations with waitstaff and owners about the fact that all the plastic ever created is still in existence.

  27. Erin says...

    When dining with friends or a larger group and the waiter/waitress asks “how are we doing the checks?”

    OR

    When dining with “just a friend”, and the waiter gives you just one check and you have to ask them to split.

    • K says...

      Servers can’t read your mind. Just be polite about asking for what you need in each situation. It’s better to be upfront about it as soon as you can, rather than wasting your server’s time at the end of your dining time, making them go back to the computer, separate the items, reprint the bills and return to your table.

  28. Chantelle says...

    Arriving to dinner for a bachelorette where it’s an intimate gathering and you know NO ONE at the table. Sooooo awkward!! Then wiping out flat on your *ss on the way to the restroom because you chose to wear those cheap heels and they are no match for their slick floors. Sometimes I just want to stay home and order pizza….

  29. Jesse says...

    I have this idea to start a restaurant review blog for HSP’s (highly sensitive people).

    It wouldn’t be about the food, it would tell you things like if there is parking and if yes, how to enter, what the entrance feels like (for example, “You’ll walk through a mine of closely situated two-tops, occupied usually by hipster types, who may look at you. Head straight for the potted fig tree in the corner which is easily visible upon entering, and this is where the hostess stand is.”) The bathroom location would, of course, be of utmost importance.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha YES!

    • Michele says...

      Knowing about the entrance reminds me of a time in Charlottesville when two friends and I accidentally rode the utility elevator which, after a loud ride, opened to the surprised looks and snickers of the dining public. We were right in the middle of the dining room. Ugh….we slink out….we order wine.

    • Abbey Leroux says...

      I would be that blog’s biggest fan.

    • Courtney says...

      I love that you referenced HSP’s! I’ve been reading The Highly Sensitive Person and finally feel understood :)

    • Oh goodness, and LIGHTING. I’m so sensitive to light — it’s all about the hygge atmosphere! :)

    • Julie says...

      Yes, please! This would be a dream.

    • Neen says...

      Yes to HSPs! Courtney, I just started that book last week and am like “my people! Nowwwww it all makes sense.”

    • bisbee says...

      Really? That is a thing (HSP)?

      Honestly, if eating out raised so many issues for me, I think I would avoid it.

    • Elena Echenique says...

      I would love to be a contributor! Signed, HSP

  30. Nadine Hughey says...

    I’m so glad you asked! Mine is if I go back to a place where I REALLY liked something, will I like it again?

  31. Mara says...

    I had to laugh because, as an introvert, an early spike of anxiety comes with “have you dined with us before?” Other moments:
    — When I know I’ve ordered the wrong meal and should have gotten the other option I was weighing.
    — Knowing that the waiter will pop up out of nowhere with a question when I’ve just over-stuffed my mouth.
    — Seeing kitchen staff in the bathroom and waiting to see if, and how well, they wash their hands.
    — Wondering if I should keep nodding like a bobble head doll, stare down at the menu, or lock eyes with the waiter, when he/she recites all the specials.
    — Triple-checking to make sure no one forgot their doggy bag.

    • Karen says...

      Kitchen staff in bathroom!! OMG yes, so awkward.

  32. Flagging down your waiter, or any waiter, for the check when you’re past ready to go and they’ve suddenly gone AWOL.

  33. Liberty says...

    I’d add all of the feelings this New Yorker cartoon evokes in me. As someone who brings my toddler with me most places, where he’s usually fawned over, the tames when he’s lost it being me so low on so many levels…

    https://instagram.com/p/BiE7cwhjmOY/

  34. Jessica says...

    Order envy. My brother has this superpower of always ordering the best thing on the menu. How does he know?

    • Oak says...

      So true! My husband has this superpower too– good thing he is always willing to switch plates to make me happy :)

    • KC says...

      My mother has this superpower!! Forever orders the best item on the menu. How do they do it?!

    • Alex says...

      I always ask my husband what he’s ordering before I decide so o can order the same. He usually changes so we can try two things – hehe

  35. Claire says...

    The person before you orders the exact thing you were planning to order!

    • Sara says...

      Yes!! lol

  36. Anna says...

    Will my kids _______ full in the blank with literally anything that could disturb others. Will I get to eat any of my meal? How much food will be inedible after my toddler gets to it? How much food to order for my kids. Why am I paying money for food that’s not healthy? Can we just go through the drive through instead? …..we don’t go out much to restaurants any more

  37. Carolyn M says...

    I like to drink white wine, but don’t know a thing about wine and frankly don’t care to learn. But I am so embarrassed anytime I have to try to pronounce the name of the wine. My fear is so bad that if there are 2 Sauvignon Blancs and only one Pinot Grigio, I will pick the Pinot (even if I’d really prefer the alternative) because then I can simply say “i’ll take a glass of Pinot Grigio” and won’t need to fumble my way through “I’ll take the umm…the….Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc….how the F do you say that? Can you just come over here so I can point?” UGH.

    • M. says...

      THIS.

  38. Wanting to go along with the idea of “trying a new restaurant ” versus really really just wanting to go to that wonderful Italian Place that has the most yummy menu and we probably won’t get back here again for awhile.

    • Sabrina Izaguirre says...

      I agree 100%…what’s wrong with going to that charming Italian Place that we’ve been 2 a million times…

  39. TIPPING. Everything about how much to tip is awkward for me. I dread the end of the meal because there is the paying and tipping part. It’s even more awkward here in Europe because some people tip, some don’t… there are no rules. I don’t deal well with “no rules”.

    • Fatima says...

      Yesssss!

    • Haha I find this so funny coming from Sweden because traveling in the US is so stressful for me for this reason. Here, tips aren’t counted as wages, they’re extra if you LIKE the food and/or the service. I found it so awkward tipping even when we weren’t happy with a dining experience in the US, because I obviously wanted the waitress/waiters to be paid for their work.

  40. Rachel says...

    I think the presentation of the wine bottle is one of the most overwhelmingly uncomfortable restaurant experiences. How am I supposed to respond? “Yes, this wine tastes…like wine…and the way I assume the vintners intended.” It’s always so awkward.

    • as a waitress, opening the wine is even more awkward. do they want me to small talk with them while i open this? do they want to pretend i’m not here? do they care that i pulled the foil off at the bar because it’s SO MUCH EASIER than cutting the foil with that tiny knife and it’s all cheap wine that you can just pull the foil straight off the top anyway!
      also the restroom in the restaurant i work at is only accessible through the kitchen. it makes people panic.

    • Scarlett says...

      Yes! This! What is the proper etiquette for this anyway?? Anyone?

    • Andrea says...

      You’re supposed to be tasting to see if the bottle went bad (small chance). Otherwise, just take a sip and say it’s fine if it is. That’s all they are looking for.

    • Alice says...

      So!! They show you the label so you can be sure they’ve given you the wine you actually ordered. When you sip, it’s to make sure it’s not corked (so I always giggle when they do this and it’s a screw top…) but also, so you’re sure you like it!! I asked once in a very fancy restuarant if people ever send back wine they just don’t like, and they said “yep, all the time, we don’t mind, it’s all about personal taste”!
      Signed,
      A girl who’s bottle of wine was corked this evening :)

    • Abby says...

      Adding to the comment about making sure the wine isn’t corked – you still need to do this for screw top bottles as ‘corked’ is a bit of a misnomer. The wine can be tainted from the barrels or from incorrect storage, so it’s best to check. Although I definitely haven’t mastered the art of doing it un-awkwardly!

    • Claire says...

      They present the bottle to show you they’ve brought what you ordered. So all you need to say is “Yes, thank you.” or, if it isn’t correct, then “I believe I ordered a different one, (fill in the blank with choice).” They let you taste it to make sure it is agreeable. Sometimes wine goes bad without anyone realizing, or perhaps it just isn’t to your liking. Again, “Yes thank you, it’s good”. Or “this doesn’t taste like I thought it would, I’d like to try something else.”

  41. Sarah says...

    Worrying someone will suggest splitting the bill evenly when you’ve made a point of ordering a salad (no chicken) and a water for dinner.

    When someone significantly better off (brother in tech, parents, etc) who suggested eating out in the first place offers to pay for the meal, and you insist on splitting, but they insist on paying, and secretly everyone knows you’re resisting to be nice, and then eventually give up so everyone can relax.

    • Carolyn says...

      YES!! I was once at the end of a long table where no drinks, appetizers (oysters!), or desserts were ordered. The message that we were splitting evenly was delivered telephone style and I almost died of rage. My husband and I spent the drive home fuming and vowed we would never eat with a group bigger than six again.

  42. Cynthia says...

    Menus with too many choices.

  43. Eloise says...

    “Just one, today?” I’m [insert number older than the typical CoJ reader] and I STILL get anxious eating alone, so I usually don’t do it unless its at my neighborhood sushi bar, and even there, “we” are so well known that the chefs always ask where my husband is. Sigh. I.Need.To.Get.Over.This.

    • celeste says...

      Own it. Read a novel while eating and then go to a movie alone. You deserve it. (Signed, mother of two who wishes she could.)

    • Mary Barnett says...

      I’ve had that happen a couple times and I always come right back at them laughing with “What, isn’t one enough?” and they’re like “Um, no, I um …” but I hope maybe they’ll think about it. My DIL used to work in a very nice restaurant with excellent training and they were taught to say “Table for tonight?” Because if there are three and the person says “Just three?” then somebody feels like a loser because they don’t have a date!

  44. JL says...

    Dining with a large group of people and seemingly being the only person at the table paying attention to the server.

  45. Having to ask the price of the specials. And this is a bar one, not restaurant, but I hate trying to evaluate where to lean in on a crowded bar to order a drink!

    • Eloise says...

      Yes x two!

  46. Lauren says...

    We were once asked when when walking into a restaurant, “Can I help you?”
    We had no idea what to say, “I hungry!” “Food please.” “No, just looking.” ?!?!

  47. Suzanne says...

    I’ll add an overwhemling menu where the waiter comes back a bazillion times before you’ve had a chance to decide.

    OR

    A menu in-person that is different from the one online and it doesn’t have ________ that you were dying to order.

  48. Jill says...

    The specials!
    Sometimes I wish they would just say “grilled salmon” instead of “grilled wild Alaskan Peninsula salmon covered with a lemon garlic basil reduction sauce served with garlic and chive organic potatoes along with early spring lettuce salad mix tossed with baby heirloom tomatoes toasted California walnuts and organic goat cheese with an aged champagne vinegar dressing combined with shallots lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. “ (No commas.) Gack! It’s stressful for me!

    • yes! also, when they do that, I’ll latch onto one or two words and then order “uhhh… the thing with the walnuts?”

    • oh, my that sounds delicious. I would order that :)

    • Chantelle says...

      Lindsey, this totally cracked me up, lol! So true!

  49. Rose says...

    I am so intrigued by this post- I have been a restaurant manager for the past 10 years so this provides some insight from a guest perspective that has never occurred to me!
    I can understand the potential anxiety of each point except being asked ‘have you dined with us before?’. I have a habit of asking this question (and encourage our host team to do the same). It is an opportunity for me to introduce myself to guests who have been in before that I haven’t personally met- or give a little introduction to the restaurant for first timers (and often find out about how they discovered the restaurant).
    ps I never turned off by a table just wanting water- but my biggest pet peeve is when I dine out as a guest and am asked “are you okay with water”- of course I’m okay with it- but I’d love to be offered something in addition!

    • Amber says...

      Interesting! That is a great point about why to ask the question, “Have you dined with us before?” I’ve never thought about it from the owner/manager perspective — I always thought it was just something to say.

      I can’t speak for everyone, but as a person who dreads ANY small talk at all and makes very deliberative choices, I’m scared of what will happen after I answer. If I say NO — are they going to be over-eager to share with me exactly what experience THEY want ME to have in this restaurant, when part of the fun is figuring that out for myself?! Are they going to spend ten minutes telling me what they are known for, when I already know because I googled it before deciding to come here? Are they going to make me stand here for another fifteen minutes when all I really want is to put my jacket on my chair and haul ass to the bathroom??

      And if I say YES — what then?! Is that the only way to get them to take me to my seat?!?!?!

      Thanks for sharing your perspective with us!

    • Jo says...

      I loath being asked if I’ve dined before. I brace myself for complicated instructions, but usually it’s just a long winded and redundant explanation of the menu. If you want to do some marketing research, save it for the end of the meal and choose diners who seem relaxed and who you’ve already built a raport with.

    • Erin says...

      This question is my total nightmare! The awkwardness in answering…unsure what type of response my answer will elicit. Just makes me super uncomfortable. Hate hate hate small talk with strangers. I also hate when sales associates (well meaning, I know!) try to ask me questions in stores. Just, pretend I’m not here! I will totally reach out if I need something, trust.

    • Lcb says...

      I always say I haven’t been there, even if I have. I have this weird fear that if I say yes, the server will quiz me on something about the restaurant and I won’t know the answer. Haha

    • I loved reading the responses to this portion in particular. While I have experienced some of the other anxieties of eating out that this post mentions, the question ‘have you dined with us before?’ has never made me feel anxious. It’s interesting to read others perspectives on what thoughts this question triggers. For me, I think the question puts me at ease. If I answer yes, then we all immediately relax, the server knows we know the ropes and they don’t need to provide guidance/explanation. If we haven’t been before, knowing our server has this knowledge is comforting because then I know they’ve ‘got our back’ and will help point out differences in their menu/ordering process, note where the restrooms are etc. all information that helps me relax and enjoy the experience.

  50. Ellie says...

    Server: “Enjoy your entree!”
    Me: reflexive “You too!”
    Guess I’ll go die now….

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha EVERY SINGLE TIME

    • Heather says...

      I once said a cheerful “Thanks, bye!” to the server after she took our order. As though I was about to hang up the phone.

  51. Just deciding what to order in general is anxiety-inducing haha.

  52. Betsy says...

    Calculating the tip

    • Carrie says...

      Especially when in the company of anyone other than my husband. High pressure math situation, I can’t think under those circumstances!

    • bisbee says...

      20% of the total before tax. Easy. Really.

    • Lisa says...

      I’m an admitted math lover, but here is a quick tip calculation trick for anyone who isn’t – when you get the total, just take the first digit of the total and double it for the tip. A $40 total would get an $8 tip.

      If the order is $100 or more double the first two digits. $100 gets a $20 tip.

      If the second digit in the total is higher than 5, add an extra dollar (basically rounding up). So $46 would get $9.
      That will always get you close to 20%!

  53. I always want to do this, and my husband never does. One of these days, I’m just going to order the French toast and the Eggs Benedict and eat them both!

  54. Lauren says...

    Seeing someone you know and not knowing whether to (1) go out of your way to say hi, (2) keep it to a casual smile across the room, or (3) try to ignore in a friendly way…

  55. McKenzie Cunningham says...

    When your table starts ordering and you still haven’t decided what to get #indecisivediner

  56. Shade says...

    Love all of these!

  57. Julie says...

    When the waiter doesn’t write down the order. Not impressing me, just making me nervous!

    • Amber says...

      Y E S

  58. Laura says...

    I really love this. Mari really hits the nail on the head with this one. I’ve felt all of these things.

  59. Lauren E. says...

    I’m giggling to myself. The bathroom thing is the worst!!

    I was at dinner with my new bosses and I wore heels that I couldn’t walk very well in, so not only did I walk into the kitchen, but as the waiter directed me to the actual bathroom and I turned to go the other way, I slipped on the slick tile floor and almost fell flat on my butt. So. Smooth.

  60. Nora says...

    I hate the nowadays inevitable question: “Would you like an apéritif?”
    This seems to be in fashion (at least) all over Europe in the last years. I don’t enjoy alcohol in general and if I do, I need quite some advice on what I will like, but feel embarassed to ask about it :-(
    And I suspect they offer it so happily because it is a way to hike the bill up….

  61. Karen says...

    Anxiety Peak – being the center of attention any time you are standing: walking to table, restroom, getting up to leave. **I can feel the staring eyes!**

    • Amber says...

      Yes! This!!

  62. Noelle says...

    Harkening back to another COJ post: “Why don’t we just order a bunch of stuff to share?”

    • I always want to do this, and my husband never does. One of these days, I’m just going to order the French toast and the Eggs Benedict and eat them both!

  63. DC says...

    We always get the bottle since we can take the rest home with us. ?

    • Sabrina Izaguirre says...

      I didnt know you could take the bottle…I always freak thinking, I can’t drink the whole thing…thanks for letting me know.

    • Claire says...

      It depends where you live. Some states allow you to do this, others do not. The server will know one way or another.

  64. Worrying that the server is going to hate you the second you tell them the only drinks you’ll be ordering are waters.

    • shannon says...

      We typically order only water, but to soften the blow my husband usually says, “just water for now.” Sometimes we really do end up getting coffee or tea later though, so it’s an honest answer.

    • lauren says...

      As a former server, can I ask why? I’ve had friends say similar things and am always surprised. I (and my coworkers) didn’t write things down unless it was a large group or one with lots of substitutions because it was simply the most efficient way. Even if I would have to go back to confirm something (which happened from time to time) it was still way quicker overall, and time is always short in a restaurant when you’re juggling multiple tables, running drinks, and fighting with the ktichen! That said, I grew up near a place that was famous for having only male waiters who were forbidden from writing anything down no matter how big the party, and I always thought that was so weird.

      And to those nervous about dining alone, I promise that no server or bartender I ever worked with ever thought it was odd to see someone alone! In fact, I found that people in the restaurant industry pretty often go out by themselves, either because of weird schedules or just liking the experience. I still love taking myself to dinner.

    • lauren says...

      woops, my reply was supposed to be to the person who said writers not writing things down made them nervous!

  65. Amanda G says...

    I’d add something along the lines of having to order first but not knowing what my fiancee is ordering because god forbid a) we get the same thing or b) he orders something I don’t want to try ;)

  66. this is soooo on point. Had me laughing on this stressful Friday

  67. Denise says...

    Fear of the aftermath of unfamiliar foods.

  68. celeste says...

    Holding your breath that your children won’t go crazy, even though you went to a fast service restaurant. (Mine are 8 and 10. We should be past this)

    Realizing that you could’ve made the same thing for less at home on your date night.

    Final bill amount anxiety ($75 for 2 plus babysitter? We’re celebrating. We also won’t do this again for a year. Let’s go get $2 guac and chips next time, though.)

  69. Lauren says...

    1. Being asked, “How is everything?” when you’ve just taken a huge bite… and giving an uncharacteristic thumbs-up in lieu of verbal response.

    • Sadie says...

      or being asked that question when you don’t like the food!

    • Lauren E. says...

      YES! Or being asked “how is everything” before you’ve taken a bite.

    • Carrie says...

      It’s like they’re trained to ask that question only WHEN you’ve just taken a bite!

  70. Lisa says...

    Hahahaha. I relate to this so much.