Polish Restaurants and dinning out
The truth is most Poles do not eat out that much. I am married and my wife cooks gourmet meals everyday. I guess it is also a matter of economics.
How is dining out in Poland different from in the USA?
When you walk in the restaurant, you probably expect a hostess who will lead you to the table. This is quite rare in Poland and mostly used at very busy places. Normally you can just choose the table you like. The waiter will not come right away to ask you about the drinks before you even look in the menu, either. If you want something before your main course you can call the waiter and order it, of course, but if you don’t, the drinks generally come with the meal or just a minute before it.
When you are done reading the menu and know what you want, close the booklet so that they know you are ready to order. The prices are in Polish Złoty and the tax is already included in the quoted price. This applies to anything that you buy in Poland and all over Europe, I believe. There might be some exceptions but none that I know of , and I’ve seen quite a lot of the continent.
In Europe it is not obvious that you want ice in your drink like it is in the USA, so make sure you tell the waiter about the ice if you want it. Otherwise you can get just a chilly or even room temperature beverage, especially in the winter. (However, this rarely happens during warmer seasons and will never ever happen with alcoholic drinks.) It’s because a lot of people here don’t like their drinks freezing or believe they will give them a sore throat. When I worked in a restaurant it was quite common that someone would ask for a room temperature Coke. It’s unacceptable in America, but not here.
Service is not included in your total. The tip should be about 10% of what you spend, as it is around the world. Try to leave them in cash as some restaurants do not allow the waiters to take tips off of a credit card. It makes things easier.
Smoking is not allowed in most places nowadays, only if the restaurant has a separate room for the smokers, but few of them do, thank goodness.