When Can You Start Eating When Dining with Others?

Do you always have to wait until everyone has their food before you can start eating?

Trent Armstrong
4-minute read
Episode #117

When is it OK to start eating your food in a restaurant? Today's article is in response to a recent email asking whether you need to wait until everyone has their food before you can start eating.

When Can You Start Eating During a Casual Meal with Friends?

This question has different answers depending on the situation. I'll start with the most casual dining situation and talk about eating out with friends first.

Let’s say you’re popping out for a bite with some of your friends and are making your way to a fast food restaurant or something just a rung or two up the ladder (a diner or buffet might also be in this category.) I'm talking about the kind of eatery where there is a good chance each person will get his or her food at a completely different time.

In this situation, it's OK for each person to begin eating when their food arrives, as it could be more than a few minutes from the time you get your food and everyone else gets theirs. If the food is served warm, it is certainly within the realm of manners to eat your food while your companions are waiting on their own. Of course you don’t have to start eating; it is also mannerly to wait until everyone has their food...

Should yours be the food that is holding everything up, go ahead and encourage everyone else to eat. They will make noises in protest. So calmly assure them that it would be a travesty to not consume that jr. double with cheese while it is still toasty.