Dutch Language Blog

Ordering Food in Dutch Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Culture

So last week, I discussed how to order drinks in Dutch. Let’s talk about ordering food today!

Dietary preferences

The first thing to consider is of course what your dietary preferences are. But what are those?

Biologisch – biological, or organic food.

Vegan / veganistisch – vegan food (you pronounce vegan the same as in English, by the way!).

Vegetarisch – vegetarian food.

One word that is also often used is vega. This term usually refers to vegan, but is sometimes also used for vegetarian dishes. So if it says vega and you want to be sure, do ask!

Allergenen – allergens. There are many different ones, with the top 8 being: soja (soy), tarwe (wheat), noten (tree nuts), pinda’s (peanuts), melk (milk), schelpdieren (shellfish), ei or eieren (egg or eggs), vis (fish).

Lactosevrij Fructosevrij / Glutenvrij – Lactose-free, fructose-free, gluten-free for the intolerant ones.

Kleurstoffen – food colourings.

Smaakstoffen – Flavourings.

Geurstoffen – Odorant.

Natuurlijk – Natural.

Kunstmatig – Artificial.

Some restaurants advertise with (the lack of) some of the properties above. And the menukaarten (menu’s) are full of them, indicating what you are consuming!

If it is still unclear what’s in it, though, you can ask something like this:

Wat zit er precies in dit gerecht? – What exactly is in this dish?

Wat is zuurvlees? – What is zuurvlees (“sour meat”)?

Wat is ossenhaas? – What is ossenhaas (beef tenderloin)?


How to do it – formal?

In Dutch restaurants, formalities are like in normal Dutch life: not that formal! An alstublieft is not required, and an alstjeblieft absolutely suffices. Often, you can also say something without even putting “please” in the sentence.

Example sentences:

Ik neem de biefstuk! – I take the steak!

Kunt u mij alstublieft zout en peper brengen? – Can you bring me salt and pepper, please?

Voor mij de soep van de dag, alstjeblieft! – The soup of the day for me, please!
Zit er melk of kaas in het gerecht? – Is there milk or cheese in the dish?

Ik ben allergisch tegen pinda’s. Kunt u het eten ook zonder pindasaus serveren? – I am allergic against peanuts. Could you also serve the food without peanut sauce?


A word you can easily add in any sentence is graag, which means “with pleasure”. It is a sort of way of saying please, or “I’d like”. Example:

Wilt u nog een mandje met brood? – Would you like to have another bread basket?

Graag! – Yes, please!

A question you might get from an ober (waiter) is whether the food is good. That will be something like this:

Smaakt het? (Does it taste well?)

Or more formal:

Is alles naar wens? (Is everything at wish? / Is everything alright?)

Good answers are:

Ja, hoor! Het is lekker! (Yes, yes! It is tasty!)

Heerlijk! (Delicious!)

Dankuwel. (Thank you.)


Of course, you can give the ober a fooi (tip). However, tipping occurs a bit less than in, for example, the United States. If you decide to give a fooi, 10% is a common. Some get it for themselves, but in many cases, the fooi is also collected generally and shared among the staff.


I hope this post was helpful for you. My question to you: What will be the next thing you’ll order at a Dutch restaurant? Let me know in the comments below!




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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.