Food in the USA

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Food in the USA

In the USA you can find excellent food from nearly every country in the world. Opening and closing times vary, and in some places it's possible to find places open 24 hours a day. Keep in mind that portions served in most restaurants are on the larger side and so it's completely normal to take food to-go.

Types of restaurants

Fast Food

Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Jack in the Box can be found all over, often with a drive thru so you don’t even have to get out of your car. Many of them even have late hours and some are even open 24 hours.

Jack in the Box

Take-out

Take-out restaurants are found in most cities. You can either order by phone or online, or stop into the restaurant to order. Typically you order to take home your food. They offer a variety of different foods, but generally take a bit longer than fast food restaurants. You can order items like pizza, Chinese food, Mexican food, and much more.

Fast-casual

These restaurants are more in line with take-out restaurants, but they became more popular during the 2000s. Examples include Chipotle and Panera Bread. Food is generally prepared fresh, and they are considered to be a bit healthier than fast food restaurants.

Chain sit-down

These restaurants are pricier than fast food, and you have to be seated and served your food. They offer different menus, but generally are safe options for those who are familiar with the chain and their food, and do not want to worry about new menus. Examples include TGI Friday’s, Olive Garden, and Applebee’s. These restaurants can be found easily as well.

TGI Fridays

Full-service restaurants

These restaurants range from more casual to upscale, with vastly different price ranges. They come in all types of cuisines and menus. Information about each restaurant, including their rating, can usually be easily found online.

Types of service

Continental breakfast is usually served at hotels and motels, and it is a cold breakfast including items such as cereal, breads, muffins, and fruit. Drinks include milk, juices, hot coffee, and tea.

Buffets can also be found in many cities. Typically, buffets serve either American or Chinese food, and allow you to pay for your meal and eat as much as you want from the various options they have out.

All you can eat

Brunch is usually served on the weekend in various restaurants. They have both breakfast and lunch items.

Types of food

The diversity of the food in each city is usually determined by the ethnic diversity of the population. Regionally specific food is not as common, except in the South, where traditional food includes grits (ground maize porridge), collard greens (a boiled vegetable, often flavored with ham and a dash of vinegar), sweet iced tea, barbeque, catfish (served deep-fried with a breadcrumb coating), cornbread, okra, and gumbo (a stew of seafood or sausage, rice, okra, and sometimes tomatoes).

Barbeque (BBQ) is an American specialty and can be found all over the country, but is most famous in places like Kansas City, and the states of Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. You can get beef brisket or pork shoulder that is often slowly wood smoked for hours. Depending on the place, you can also get chicken, sausages, and lots of different options for sides.

Hamburgers and fries are considered to be a common American meal - keep an eye out for the restaurants that specialise in gourmet burgers with all kinds of different and unusual toppings.

mmm Hamburger

In many American cities, you can easily find Chinese food, Indian food, and Mexican food. In specific areas with large populations of different ethnicities, you can often find excellent Middle Eastern food, Greek food, Vietnamese food, Korean food, Thai food, and Japanese food to give a few examples.

Etiquette

When you go into a sit-down restaurant, you will indicate to the employee how many people are in your party and they will tell you about how long the wait is. Once you’ve been seated, you’ll be given a menu and several minutes to place your order. If the restaurant has cloth napkins, it is customary to lay it on your lap. Usually after you have been served your food, servers will come to your table every now and then to check if there is anything else you need. When you are done with your meal, you can ask for the bill or the check. You can either pay with cash or credit card by leaving it on the receipt for them to come by and pick it up. They will return your change or your card as necessary.

At sit-down restaurants, tips are necessary as many servers don’t earn a living wage and rely on tips to supplement their wage. This ranges from 15-20% depending on your preference.

For more information about drinks, check out Drink in the USA.