10 Must-Know Dining Etiquette Tips for Every Situation

No matter what kind of dining environment you’re in, table manners are a must. One such rule is never to talk with your mouth full, as this can be extremely off-putting for others at the table.

It’s also best to avoid complaining about the food or service if you can, as this can come across as negative and insulting. Follow these simple tips to have a respectful and pleasant dining experience!

1. Arrive on Time

When arriving at a restaurant, it’s important to be on time. It can create a negative impression on your host if you arrive late, especially if the meal is a business dinner or other formal dining event.

If you’re going to be late, make sure you let your host know ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to ask your host about the menu in advance so you can avoid any surprises.

It’s also important to follow basic table etiquette, such as holding stemmed glassware by the stem and tasting food before adding salt or pepper. It’s considered rude to add seasonings without asking your host first. Also, always use utensils correctly, and don’t blow on your food to cool it off. This is considered an insult to the chef. To learn more dining tips to help you, check out

2. Be Polite

With so many people in restaurants during the pandemic, it’s easy to forget some simple etiquette rules. For instance, don’t reach over the server to take your own pint of beer from the tray. That’s not just impolite, but it also throws off their timing.

Slurping soup is another restaurant faux pas. If you order a dish that contains peanuts or other nuts, make sure to ask the waiter if it includes any nut products before you eat it.

Also, don’t discuss controversial topics like politics or religion in a business setting. These conversations can quickly turn awkward and may even jeopardize a potential business opportunity. Instead, focus on your conversation with your coworkers or other guests. Also, avoid pulling out a chair for someone when it’s not necessary, as that can seem chauvinistic. Instead, simply offer to fill their glass or engage in conversation.

3. Keep Your Phone Off the Table

It may seem obvious, but many people use their smartphones at the table, which can be very distracting for everyone else. It’s fine to use your phone when dining alone, but if you’re with others it’s a good idea to put the device away. Texting discretely or using the phone to glance at the time is acceptable, but mindlessly thumbing through TikTok is not.

Taking calls or having your phone on the table shows disrespect for your friends and family, as well as the restaurant staff. If you have to take a call at the table, make sure the phone is on silent or vibrate. This will also allow you to concentrate on the conversation and enjoy your meal without distraction.

4. Don’t Chew With Your Mouth Open

Chewing with your mouth open is unappetizing and shows a lack of respect for the place you are eating. It also allows germs to spread easily.

A restaurant is a formal setting and it is important to follow proper dining etiquette. If you forget this simple rule, it could leave a bad impression on the people you are with.

When you arrive at the table, immediately take your napkin and fold it over your lap. Keep it on your lap for the duration of your meal unless you are finished with it. If you need help with your food or drink, ask someone to pass it to you. Never reach over your chair to get something or touch the plates of those around you. This is very rude and it is not classy. Also, try to avoid talking with your mouth full.

5. Don’t Leave Your Elbows on the Table

When you are at a restaurant, it is best to avoid controversial topics like politics and religion. In addition, it is generally considered bad manners to discuss personal business at the table.

Keeping these dining etiquette rules in mind will make your meal more enjoyable for everyone at the table. To show that you are finished eating, place your napkin on the seat of your chair or put it in one of the two designated spaces on the table.

Remember to eat slowly and carefully, and do not reach across the table for items from other people’s plates. It is also important to compliment the food when it is served and let your host know if you are allergic to anything. This shows respect for the food and the hospitality industry. The host went to great lengths to prepare a delicious meal for you, so enjoy it!

6. Don’t Talk With Food in Your Mouth

Talking with your mouth full is one of the biggest dining faux pas that can give you a bad impression. This can be hard to avoid at times, but you should try your best not to talk while you have food in your mouth. If someone asks you a question and you’re still chewing or swallowing, politely excuse yourself and wait until you’re finished eating before responding.

Whether you’re attending an elevated business dinner or a birthday cocktail party, table manners are a must. Brushing up on these basics will help you leave a positive impression on others, and make the meal more enjoyable for everyone. Get more table etiquette tips from hospitality education leaders at EHL. Click below to learn more.

7. Take Small Sips

You might already know about the most obvious dining etiquette rules, but some of the less obvious ones can be more complicated. From not lifting your menu or eating with your elbows on the table to avoiding slurping your soup, these unexpected fine-dining tips are sure to make you stand out in a crowd.

When presented with a bottle of wine, you should always taste a small amount before buying the entire glass. Not only will this help you determine if you enjoy the wine, but it will also allow you to see if it is corked—tainted with fungus—before you purchase the whole bottle.

If you’re attending a business lunch or dinner, it is important to keep your conversations professional. To do so, you should avoid asking personal questions and bringing up politics or sensitive topics.

8. Say “Please” and “Thank You”

When you say “please” and “thank you” at a restaurant, it shows the server that you’re courteous. This makes your dining experience more pleasant for everyone.

Say “please” and “thank you” whenever the server brings you food, drinks, cutlery, or anything else that’s part of the table setting. This is especially important if the server is helping you out, such as by clearing your plate or replacing dropped silverware.

It’s also polite to thank the server if the host offers a prayer before you eat. You don’t have to say the prayer if it goes against your beliefs, but you should acknowledge it. In addition, when you receive a compliment at the dinner table, remember to say “thank you.” This goes for everything from your outfit to the host’s home. Then, if it’s appropriate, join in with the toast.

9. Don’t Leave Your Food on the Table

Most of the rules of dining etiquette are no-brainers: sit up straight, don’t talk with food in your mouth, and use utensils correctly. But there are also some more subtle dining dos and don’ts that may surprise you.

For example, never stretch across the table to reach condiments like butter or salt. Instead, ask your server to pass them to you. And always taste your food before seasoning it. Otherwise, you might accidentally make it too salty or peppery for your host’s liking!

In addition, your napkin only belongs in one place during a meal: your lap. If it falls off, don’t dive under the table to get it – that’s just rude! Instead, place it on the seat next to you and push in your chair. You can then proceed with your meal without worrying about making a mess.

10. Be Open to Conversation

Eating with people you don’t know in a professional setting can feel awkward. However, by following the proper etiquette, you can show your professionalism and be an asset to the group.

When it comes to conversation, remember to keep the topics light-hearted and respectful. Avoid bringing up sensitive subjects like politics or religion. Likewise, don’t reach across the table to get food or drink. Instead, politely ask for it.

When it comes to the table manners, it’s best to follow the lead of your host or hostess. Some dinner parties may have place cards telling guests where to sit, but if not, wait for the hosts to sit before you do. In addition, if your host says grace, remain silent and respect their beliefs. It’s also okay to join in the toasts if you choose.