Dining Etiquette 2.0

It's amazing that in this day and age many adults still lack the essential tools for proper dining etiquette. That's why Modern Manners Guy has put together a dining etiquette refresher - so you actually get invited back for another meal.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #292


When I tell people I’m a manners writer, the first thing I’m always asked is my views on dining etiquette.  When people hear “etiquette” they immediately think of an elaborate dinner setting with white-gloved snotty elitists snickering at other patrons who don’t know which fork to use for the salad. Let me be clear - this is NOT how I view my work.

Yes, I do understand the ins and outs of dining etiquette, but first and foremost I’m a realist.  I base my approach solely on real world situations that everyone can relate to; relationships, dining and travel, work, etc. The fact of the matter is that 99.999% of all people do not dine on 5-course meals with 15 pieces of silverware. Nor do they care to debate European vs. American dining styles. As well, I may be the first manners guru to openly admit that I’ll dive into a plate full of buffalo wings or steamed crabs without a second thought about my posture.


However, I don’t take dining etiquette lightly – it’s in fact a very big deal.  Thankfully, it’s my job to make it relatable to our daily lives and experiences. With that, get ready folks, because today we're doing a dining etiquette tune-up with my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for 21st century eating:

Tip #1: When Can I Eat My Meal?

By far, the numero uno question I get when asked about dining etiquette is, “How soon can I eat my meal once it’s served?” Picture a party of 6 out for a nice dinner at a restaurant. All ordered at the same time, but it turns out only one or two people’s meals have arrived, while the remaining dishes are stuck in the weeds of the backed-up kitchen.  We’ve all been on both sides of the table in this situation (see what did there?) and when you’re the lucky one who gets your meal before everyone else, should you dive in or wait for the other dishes to arrive? The answer to this comes down one question: Is the food hot or cold?

Regardless of how many people are dining, if you order hot food (burger, steak, chicken, pasta, etc.), it’s acceptable to eat it as soon as it arrives.  Hot food will lose its flavor if not eaten right after it’s served and because others do not have their food does not mean your meal should be sub par. After all, you can return a dish that was supposed to be hot but was served cold, but you cannot return a dish that is cold now because you waited too long to eat it. So the next time you're in this situation, the thing to do is take a pause, relax, and then eat a bit slower than you would normally, allowing yourself to continue engaging in conversation. The thing not to do is ignore everyone around you while you stuff your face like you're racing to the finish line. 

For cold food, like sandwiches, salads, or sushi, there is ample time to wait until your dining companions get their meals. Again, you don’t want your food to go to waste, even if it’s a cold dish. Cold dishes lose their taste too, if not eaten at the proper temperature. So wait for a few minutes, check with the waitstaff as to how much longer it will be, and then begin your meal, but only if you know it’s going to be much longer. Your sandwhich can wait 5 minutes.

Tip #2: Pace Yourself

As I said in Tip #1, you never want to stuff your face while dining with others. I don’t care if it’s the best tasting meal you’ve ever had, dining is not a race. Well, unless it’s the Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest, which if this is the case, then throw out all manners and go for the gold…and the Pepto.