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EXPLAINED: The German phrases you need as bars and restaurants reopen

EXPLAINED: The German phrases you need as bars and restaurants reopen
Two restaurant employees in Dresden set up chairs and tables on Wednesday to prepare for the opening of outdoor dining. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert
Nervous about your German skills now that restrictions are easing? Here are some handy phrases for once it's possible to grab dinner or a drink with friends again.

In many areas of Germany, bars and restaurants are once again opening their doors – or at least their terraces – to customers. Months of lockdowns, curfews and pub closures mean it feels like an eternity since we have been able to catch up with friends in a pub or cafe.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining

To help you avoid any embarrassment over the next few weeks, we have compiled a list of useful phrases to try out at your local restaurant or bar:

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See also on The Local:

Small talk

If you are seeing your pals after a long time, before you even get to ordering, you may need to brush up on the small talk you’ve managed to avoid over the past few months.

Wie geht es dir? Lange nicht gesehen! – ‘How are you? Long time no see!’ Easing restrictions mean that many people will be able to socialise with friends they may not have seen since last autumn – or longer. It’s likely that ‘lange nicht gesehen’ will become a very useful addition to your phrase book.

Wie läuft’s bei dir so? – ‘What have you been up to?’ Given the heavy restrictions in place up until now in Germany, the answer to this may be pretty short. Try it out if you want to hear about how your friends have passed the time during lockdown. 

Ich freue mich auf meine Covid-Impfung – ‘I’m excited for my Covid vaccine’ As it is all anyone can really think about at the moment, it is likely the pandemic will come up at some point during your conversation. Especially if you want to make plans for the future, it will be good to know when your friends are getting their vaccine doses. 

READ ALSO: Here’s the German vocabulary you need to get the Covid-19 vaccine

Kann ich einen Tisch reservieren, bitte? – ‘Can I book a table, please?’ With bars and restaurants able to open for outdoor dining for the first time in months, there is likely to be fierce competition for tables. It is definitely worth booking in advance to ensure you aren’t disappointed. 

Ist dieser Tisch frei? – ‘Is this table free?’ If you do try your luck and approach a restaurant without booking, use this phrase to ask staff if they can squeeze you in. 

Ordering 

Ich hätte gern ein… – ‘I would like a…’ Hopefully you haven’t forgotten this basic phrase while the bars have been closed, but in any case, this is your time to use it. You could also try the more colloquial ‘ich nehme ein…’ or ‘I’ll take a…’ if you want to sound a bit more casual when ordering your drinks. 

Ich besorge das Bier – ‘I’ll get this beer’ This one’s for those of you who are feeling generous. Maybe you’ve saved a few cents while the bars have been closed and you want to cover the cost of your friend’s drink for them. Use this phrase to let them know this one’s on you. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday

         A Berlin bartender pours a drink in November. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

Eating/Drinking

Guten Appetit! – ‘Bon appetit!’ No matter if you’re in a restaurant or not, this is a good phrase to have in your pocket. In Germany, it is common to say this before you begin any meal and is a friendly way to kick off your dinner. 

Nicht lange schnacken, Kopf in Nacken – ‘Stop talking, start drinking.’ Particularly if you have been waiting months to have a drink in your favourite bar, you may want to cut the small talk and get straight to business. 

Hat es dir geschmeckt? ‘Did you enjoy your meal?’ If you have been out to a restaurant for the first time in what feels like an eternity, you are likely to savour every mouthful. Use this question to check everyone else at your table has enjoyed the experience too.

Wir brauchen ein Katerfrühstück – ‘We need a hangover cure.’ Hopefully you won’t need to use this phrase, but if you’ve overdone it on your first night socialising with friends, you might be on the search for something to ease your headache the next morning. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Kater

Lass uns bald wieder treffen – ‘Let’s do this again soon.’ Hopefully your night has gone well, and you have been able to wow your friends with your grasp of the German language. This phrase will let them know you don’t want this to just be a one time thing. 


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