Let’s see..what were our expectations for dining out? Huge portions and Burgers and value for money. Well, if you stick to the many fast food chains here, your expectations would be met. It is very easy to buy fast food in the Bay Area. Here are so many places and it is super cheap. No wonder the percentage of obese people is so high, it is just so convenient.
We sort of grew sick of fast food and luckily we had some nice American friends who took us to great places. From our experience now we can say that in the Bay Area you find an incredible variety of foods. So many variations and tastes, it is never boring. It is possible to find something for every palate.
Initially, the dining out experience here was very different to…well I have to compare it to South Africa. In the beginning we were surprised about many little things. We started going to some restaurants and we were asked to order at the counter. You were asked to sit down, study the menu, and then go to the counter to place the order. Then you mostly receive a visible number and when your meal is ready, the waiter/waitress brings it to you.
The second surprise was that you only get proper cutlery once you eat at a place with a white tablecloth. The tablecloth in general seem to be an indication of the price of the restaurant. When you have a white tablecloth you get proper cutlery and real ceramic plates. Other restaurants serve your food on this funny plastic plates with weak metal cutlery. It sort of feels cheap.
But my point is that we often, although we choose a nice restaurant, felt it was like a fast food place. We seldom experienced the “relaxed dinner outing feeling” experience, unless you are prepared to pay loads of money for a casual meal.
In case you have an actual waiter, he/she will bring the bill/check immediately after the main course. In the beginning we thought that people wanted us out of the restaurant and we hurried to finish our wine. But no…it’s just how it is done here. Take your time and even order a desert, you will just get a new bill.
The portions are still huge. In the beginning my husband and I used to share a plate of food. One would order a main and the other one desert. After that we were satisfied, it was enough. This has changed these days and now we order our own portions. The portion size seems to have a rather complex relation with the dollar amount …the more expensive the dish, the smaller the portions…
What is very different here is the tipping system. Waiters/waitresses expect at least a 15-20% tip. That is normal here. That is one reason why Americans overseas are seen as good tippers and Germans are regarded as bad tippers. It’s just a complete different culture. Our American friends taught us well about the tipping system. When everyone does it it works.
Any Asian food is just great in the Bay Area, I particularly enjoy the fresh Sushi and Dim Sum (little Chinese dough bites). And there is nothing better than a fresh big California Burger with Avocado and Bacon.
The food is not bad here, just talk to people and find the great places which will meet all your expectations. The longer you are here the more you will find out. Talk to friends and exchange tips and ideas.
Do you have any tips for restaurants? Please share your experiences on Facebook.
Tips & Insights:
- Food is good you just need to find the right places
- The Bay Area has an incredible variety of foods, dig in
- Try tip between 15-20%