9 things that will surprise you at European restaurants

In the US and most countries on either of the American continents, ketchup (and sometimes mustard) is the standard offering with fries.

Mayo on the side

No matter what kind of warm caffeinated beverage you prefer, be prepared for the cup to be significantly smaller than its US equivalents. An American “small” is typically a European “large.”

Small coffees

North America has taken its anti-tobacco campaign very seriously my entire life. Many of us know more non-smokers than smokers.


Instead of taking your card away to swipe it at the cash register (and potentially steal info), the waiter almost always brings the hand-held machine to you

Card machines

In some places, like France, whose waiters are notoriously savage, you might even be chased away if you don’t use your manners.

Ask before you sit

Cookies or small chocolates are standard with your cup of coffee or tea. You’ll also usually be served sugar packets, should you want your drink sweetened as well.

Sugary treats with coffee

It varies from country to country, but portions are generally consistently smaller than in the US. This can be a good thing, allowing you more room to sample amazing treats.

Smaller portions

In outdoor bars and brasseries, you can sit (after politely asking) anywhere that doesn’t have a “reserved” sign. However, note that the better the seat (usually the best view) will often result in more expensive drinks.

Smaller Seat-based pricing