What kinds of restaurants will I find?

You will find many kinds of restaurants offering a wide selection of foods at a variety of prices with a variety of services. Basically, however, restaurants can be divided into two types-fast food and full service.

Fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and so forth, serve hamburgers, tacos, chicken, sandwiches, and other foods that usually cost less than $3 per item. They are called fast-food restaurants because they serve your food within a few minutes. At fast-food restaurants you order food at a counter and the server gives it to you at the counter on a tray, or in a paper bag if you ordered the food "to go." Some fast-food restaurants offer a "drive-through window" which allows you to order and pick up your food without leaving your car.

If you want to eat in the restaurant, you then seat yourself. You are also expected to clean off your table when you are done with the meal. Since the food is usually served in disposable wrapping or boxes, you simply throw the wrappings in a waste basket and leave the tray on top of the waste basket before you leave.

Full-service, or "sit-down," restaurants offer even a wider variety, usually at higher prices. Unlike fast-food restaurants, they usually seat you, have a waiter or waitress take your order and serve your food, and clean your tables after you complete your meal. (Some restaurants have a "host" or "hostess" who will seat you; others have signs that say "seat yourself." In the United States, you normally do not join a stranger at a table.)

Some restaurants have a specialized menu (steaks, seafood, Chinese, Mexican, pizza, and so forth), while others offer a wide variety of items. Prices can range anywhere from less than $5 per meal to more than $50 a meal, depending on what restaurant you go to. So, if you are not familiar with a restaurant, ask to see a menu. The menu will show you what foods the restaurant serves and at what prices.

Will I be required to make reservations?

Most restaurants do not require you to make reservations. However, if you are not sure whether reservations are required, call the restaurant and ask.

Do I need to "tip"?

Generally, a tip (a cash gratuity left on the table for the server) is expected at any restaurant where a waiter or waitress serves you. The acceptable standard is 15 percent of the total bill. Some restaurants will automatically add this 15 percent, called a "gratuity charge," to your bill if you have a certain number of people (for example, seven or more) in your party.

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