The Smartest Question To Ask Servers While Ordering, According To Critics

When you go to a newly opened restaurant you want an experience — something memorable, something to tell your friends about at work the next day. You don't want to order something you could have easily made at home, which is why you probably shouldn't order the house salad. Or the chicken. Or a burger. The New York Times critic-at-large Tejal Rao avoids braised short ribs for that reason alone. Remember — you went out to dinner for a reason, and you want to spend your hard-earned money on something delicious; if you wanted spaghetti you could have stayed in.

This is where your server comes in. Asking your server for recommendations could lead to some surprisingly delicious meals and ensure that you don't miss out on something amazing. According to critics like Rao and her colleague Pete Wells, the question is worth it, especially if the server is knowledgeable about the menu. Rao asks, "Is there anything really amazing that I've missed?" after putting her order in, a smart question to ask your server. 

When to ask your server if you've missed anything

Wells and Rao consult servers in situations where it's tough to decide or they want to ensure a great experience. Consulting your server works at both established restaurants and new ones. At an established restaurant, the server will know the menu and have opinions and know what diners enjoy — also a sign you're in a good restaurant. "Clear favorites start to emerge," Wells said, and servers can make recommendations based on that knowledge. However, at newer places or those with seasonal menus, it's best to narrow it down before asking.

Of course, some advise against asking your server for recommendations. Perhaps your server's tastes are vastly different from yours, or they're a picky eater. Servers also keep the size of the dinner check — and therefore the tip — in mind, so don't be surprised if they recommend a pricy entrée, according to Washingtonian. And, let's be honest; asking your server at your local Applebee's or Chili's what they recommend isn't going to get you anything mind-blowing on your plate. 

So, the next time you're out at the new Thai place that just opened or the Mom-and-Pop Italian joint that's been around for years, ask the server what they recommend. If what they say vibes with you, take it into consideration when putting your order in.