Solo Adventures: Taking yourself to dinner

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Solo Adventures: Taking yourself to dinner

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

I used to hate going places by myself. Moving to Germany added to those hesitations because upon arriving I didn’t know much German.  It also meant that I had no one to go places with as I left everyone I knew (besides my spouse) behind in the States.

With my near non-existent German speaking skills, I have learned techniques to navigate around alone. Google Maps lets me know what bus or train stop to get on and off of. The English language option on the ticket machines allows me to purchase and pay for my public transportation and parking garage tickets. Free language translation apps allow me to translate food menus and signs as well as let me figure out phrases to communicate with others.

Armed with these tools and my longing to get out of the house, the idea of solo adventures came to me. Every month, we will present a new way to get out and venture Germany all alone. This month we are talking about taking yourself to dinner.

One of the refreshing things about restaurants in Germany is that, unlike their retail counterparts, a lot of them are open on Sundays and can provide an escape if you want to relax outside of your home. While eating out in Germany is different than in America, there is just something fun about sitting outside of a restaurant or café in a downtown area and just people-watching. We’ve got some tips to take yourself out for dinner.


Eat like you’re getting a senior citizen discount

To ensure yourself a spot go in the late morning for an early lunch or in the late afternoon (around 5 p.m.- 6 p.m.) to avoid the crowds. If you want to go at peak European eating times, call ahead or go to the website and make a reservation.


Learn some basic food-related basic phrases

Trying different restaurants is one of my favorite things to do and I have been to many restaurants all over Germany and have yet to find myself unable to order. With translation apps and basic phrases, you will be fine.

German (Deutsch)


Ich möchte

I would like

Ich hätte gerne

I would like to have


To eat


To drink







Zum hier Essen

To eat here

Die Rechnung

The bill/the check


For more food-related words and phrases check out Helpful German words and phrases for ordering at a restaurant.


Download a translation app

While I have picked up a lot of food-related words and phrases on my adventures, when I am presented with a German-language menu, I always break out my translation app to ensure there are no surprise mushrooms or other unwanted items in my meal. There are several out there, but I use Google Translate because there is a camera option that allows me to take pictures of the menu page and have everything translated for me in real-time.  


Keep your order simple

Restaurants are mostly able to accommodate allergies and simple removals but do your best to stick to what is on the page. This will allow you to not lose too much in translating the order. Also, keep in mind that many German coffee shops do not do the complicated multi-ingredient drinks you may be used to from big American chains. Fear not, because even the simplest cafe au lait or latte macchiato is delicious without all the extra sugary syrups and sauces.


Be patient

Dining out is an experience in Germany. Servers are not trained in the American quick-to-the-table style, then checking on you 27 times. If you want a more expedient meal, preview the menu before you sit and be prepared to order your food when you order your drink. Also, keep in mind that water is not free, and neither are drink refills. For more on German table manners, check out Important German table manners.


Bring cash

Cash is king in Germany. Many restaurants operate under a cash-only policy and there may not be a nearby ATM. (And if there is one, you will most likely pay hefty fees to withdraw money). Also, a large tip is not common here; for services, it is typical to tip 5-10 percent of the bill.


Germany is filled with such interesting people and beautiful sites. Find yourself a table, order a delicious Käsespätzle and beer and just take in the world around you.


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