Freie Universität Berlin

Service Navigation

Table Talk

Drinking / Eating / Going to Restaurants

In Germany, you can normally choose your seat in a restaurant yourself, unless you see a host or hostess seating people.


Germans hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand and do not switch around. They tend to keep their hands on the table at all times and not let one of their hands rest in their laps.

Crossing the knife and fork on your plate indicates that you are not yet finished with your meal. Placing knife and fork on the right side of the plate in parallel is a signal to the waiter that you have finished and that the plate can be cleared away.

Beer and Wine

Beer and wine are part of a normal dinner and alcoholic drinks are usually offered to guests. Do not force alcoholic drinks on someone if that person has refused your offer, and do not order drinks for him/her. A German who refuses a drink is not being shy or impolite but really does not want to have a drink. The legal drinking age in Germany is 16 for beer and wine, and 18 for spirits.

Coffee and Cake

Coffee and cake sessions are typical for Germany, especially on Sundays. They generally take place between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.


Separate bills for each person even in smaller groups dining together are common practice in Germany. The waiter will come to your table and calculate your individual bill, and you pay him right at your table.


The service is usually included in the price of a meal or beverage. In restaurants, however, it is customary to give a tip of 5-10% of the total amount. In bars, you can easily round up to the next whole amount.


You may see dogs accompanying their owners into German restaurants, pubs, and cafés. Many restaurants allow dogs inside and at their outside seating and will often provide a bowl of water for the pet.