Top 37 Slang For Restaurant – Meaning & Usage

Whether you’re a foodie or just someone who enjoys dining out, the restaurant industry has its own vibrant language that can sometimes leave you feeling like you’re in a foreign land. But fear not! We’ve got you covered. Get ready to impress your friends and navigate the culinary world like a pro as we unveil the top slang phrases for restaurants. From insider terms to trendy expressions, this list will have you speaking the language of chefs and waitstaff in no time. So grab a seat, relax, and let’s dive into this delicious world of restaurant jargon!

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1. 86

The term “86” originated in the restaurant industry and is commonly used to indicate that an item is no longer available or that a customer is not being served. It can also be used to refer to someone who is kicked out or banned from a restaurant.

  • For example, a server might say, “We’re 86ing the salmon dish tonight.”
  • A bartender might tell a colleague, “We had to 86 that customer for causing a scene.”
  • In a busy restaurant, a host might say, “We’re 86 on reservations for the next hour.”

2. FOH

This term refers to the area of a restaurant that is visible to customers, including the dining room, bar, and host stand. It encompasses all the employees who interact directly with guests, such as servers, bartenders, and hosts.

  • For instance, a manager might say, “We need more staff in the FOH to handle the dinner rush.”
  • A server might ask a colleague, “Can you cover my tables in the FOH while I take a break?”
  • A host might tell a customer, “Please wait in the FOH area, and we’ll call your name when your table is ready.”

3. BOH

This term refers to the area of a restaurant that is not visible to customers, such as the kitchen, dishwashing area, and storage rooms. It includes all the employees who work behind the scenes to prepare and maintain the food and supplies.

  • For example, a chef might say, “We need to restock some ingredients in the BOH.”
  • A dishwasher might ask a colleague, “Can you help me with the dishes in the BOH?”
  • A manager might remind the staff, “Remember to keep the BOH clean and organized at all times.”

4. Mise en place

This French term is used to describe the process of organizing and preparing all the ingredients and tools needed for cooking before starting the actual cooking process. It emphasizes the importance of being well-prepared and having everything ready to ensure a smooth and efficient operation in the kitchen.

  • For instance, a chef might say, “Make sure you have your mise en place ready before we start cooking.”
  • A line cook might ask a colleague, “Do you have your mise en place for the dinner service?”
  • A culinary instructor might explain to students, “Mise en place is the foundation of a successful kitchen operation.”

5. In the weeds

This phrase is used to describe a situation where a restaurant or kitchen is extremely busy and the staff is struggling to keep up with the demand. It implies being overwhelmed or falling behind schedule.

  • For example, a server might say, “I’m in the weeds with all these orders.”
  • A line cook might express frustration, “We’re really in the weeds tonight. Can someone help me on the grill?”
  • A manager might offer support, “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this rush. We’re all in the weeds together.”

6. 86’d

When an item on the menu is no longer available or has run out, it is said to be “86’d.” This term originated in the restaurant industry and is used to inform staff that a particular item is no longer available.

  • For example, a server might say, “I’m sorry, but we’re 86’d on the salmon tonight.”
  • A chef might inform the waitstaff, “The special is 86’d, so let the customers know.”
  • In a busy kitchen, a cook might yell, “We’re 86’d on fries, someone needs to restock!”

7. All day

In a restaurant kitchen, “all day” is used to indicate the total quantity of a particular dish that needs to be prepared or cooked. It helps the kitchen staff keep track of orders and manage their workflow.

  • For instance, a chef might say, “We have three steaks ordered, so that’s three steaks all day.”
  • A line cook might call out, “Two burgers all day, coming up!”
  • In a bustling kitchen, a sous chef might ask, “How many chicken sandwiches do we need all day?”

8. Fire

When a dish is cooked or prepared quickly and efficiently, it is referred to as “fire.” This term is commonly used in restaurant kitchens to communicate the need for speed and promptness.

  • For example, a chef might say, “Fire the steak, we have an order waiting.”
  • A line cook might call out, “Fire two burgers, one medium and one well-done!”
  • In a busy kitchen, a sous chef might instruct, “Fire the appetizers and get them out to the dining room.”

9. Expo

In a restaurant, the term “expo” refers to the expediter or food runner who is responsible for organizing and coordinating the flow of food from the kitchen to the dining area. The expo ensures that each dish is properly plated and garnished before being delivered to the table.

  • For instance, a server might say, “The expo needs the salmon with a side of mashed potatoes.”
  • A chef might communicate with the expo, “We’re ready to send out the appetizers, let me know when you’re ready.”
  • In a busy restaurant, the expo might call out, “I need the steak and the chicken, ASAP!”

10. Topper

In the restaurant industry, a “topper” refers to an extra ingredient or garnish that is added to a dish to enhance its flavor or presentation. Toppers are often used to make a dish more visually appealing or to add an additional layer of taste.

  • For example, a chef might say, “Add a slice of avocado as a topper to the salad.”
  • A line cook might ask, “What topper should I put on the pasta dish?”
  • In a fine dining establishment, a server might describe a dish as, “Grilled fish with a lemon zest topper.”

11. VIP

In the restaurant industry, VIP refers to a customer who is considered important or high-profile. This term is often used to describe customers who receive special treatment or perks.

  • For example, a server might say, “We have a VIP coming in tonight, so make sure everything is perfect.”
  • A hostess might inform the staff, “We need to prioritize seating VIPs first.”
  • A manager might say, “Let’s comp the dessert for our VIP table as a gesture of appreciation.”


This acronym refers to the two main areas of a restaurant: the front of house (where customers are served) and the back of house (where food is prepared). It is often used to differentiate between staff members who work in these different areas.

  • For instance, a server might say, “I’m in the FOH, so I handle customer interactions.”
  • A cook might say, “I work in the BOH, so I focus on food preparation.”
  • A manager might discuss scheduling, saying, “We need more staff in the FOH during peak hours.”

13. Turn and burn

This phrase describes the practice of quickly serving and clearing tables to maximize the number of customers served in a given time period. It is often used in busy restaurants or during peak hours.

  • For example, a server might say, “We need to turn and burn these tables to accommodate the waiting customers.”
  • A manager might instruct the staff, “Focus on efficiency and speed to turn and burn tables without sacrificing quality.”
  • A hostess might inform a group, “We can seat you now, but we’ll need the table back in 30 minutes. It’s a turn and burn situation.”

14. 86’d out

When an item is “86’d out” in a restaurant, it means that it is no longer available or has been removed from the menu. This term is often used when an ingredient or dish is temporarily unavailable or when a menu item is permanently discontinued.

  • For instance, a server might inform a customer, “I’m sorry, but the salmon is 86’d out for tonight.”
  • A chef might say, “We had to 86 the dessert because we ran out of ingredients.”
  • A manager might discuss menu changes, saying, “We’re 86’ing the pasta dish to make room for new seasonal options.”

15. Deuce

In the restaurant industry, a “deuce” refers to a table or reservation for two people. This term is often used by hosts or servers to indicate a table that can accommodate a party of two.

  • For example, a host might say, “We have a deuce available by the window if you prefer.”
  • A server might ask, “Are you expecting any additional guests, or is it just a deuce tonight?”
  • A manager might assign a server to a section, saying, “You’ll be responsible for the deuces in the back corner.”

16. BOGO

This term refers to a promotion where customers can buy one item and get another item of equal or lesser value for free. It is often used in the restaurant industry to attract customers and increase sales.

  • For example, a restaurant might advertise, “BOGO burgers every Monday!”
  • A customer might ask the server, “Does the BOGO deal apply to the lunch menu as well?”
  • A person might say, “I love going to that restaurant because they always have great BOGO offers.”

17. Comp

In the restaurant industry, “comp” is short for complimentary, meaning something that is given for free. It is often used to describe items or services that are provided to customers at no charge.

  • For instance, a server might say, “The manager comped your dessert as an apology for the long wait.”
  • A customer might ask, “Can I get a comped drink for my birthday?”
  • A person might say, “The restaurant comped our entire meal after the mix-up with our order.”

18. Tip out

“Tip out” refers to the practice of sharing tips among employees in a restaurant. It usually involves servers giving a portion of their tips to other staff members, such as bussers or bartenders.

  • For example, a server might say, “I have to tip out 10% of my tips to the kitchen staff.”
  • A manager might explain, “We have a tip out policy to ensure all staff members are fairly compensated.”
  • A new employee might ask, “How often do we have to tip out?”

19. On the fly

In the restaurant industry, “on the fly” means to prepare something quickly and without prior planning. It is often used to describe orders or requests that need to be fulfilled immediately.

  • For instance, a chef might say, “I need a burger on the fly, the customer wants it ASAP.”
  • A server might ask the kitchen, “Can you make a salad on the fly? The customer has a food allergy.”
  • A person might say, “The restaurant is known for its ability to handle on-the-fly orders during busy hours.”

20. Top shelf

In the restaurant industry, “top shelf” refers to high-quality or premium items, usually alcoholic beverages. It can also be used to describe the highest-priced items on a menu.

  • For example, a bartender might say, “We have a top-shelf whiskey that’s perfect for sipping.”
  • A customer might ask, “What are your top-shelf wines?”
  • A person might say, “I always order the top-shelf margarita because it’s worth the extra cost.”

21. Table-hopping

This term refers to the act of going from one table to another in a restaurant, usually to socialize or interact with different groups of people.

  • For example, “He’s always table-hopping at parties, trying to talk to everyone.”
  • In a restaurant setting, a server might say, “Please refrain from table-hopping as it disrupts the flow of service.”
  • A customer might complain, “The restaurant was so crowded that table-hopping was impossible.”

22. Turnover

In the restaurant industry, turnover refers to the process of clearing and resetting a table after a customer has finished their meal, making it available for the next customer.

  • For instance, a manager might say, “We need to increase our turnover rate to accommodate more guests.”
  • A server might inform a host, “Table 5 is ready for turnover.”
  • A customer might comment, “The turnover at this restaurant is so quick, you never have to wait long for a table.”

23. Joint

This term is often used to refer to a casual or informal restaurant, typically one that serves simple and inexpensive food.

  • For example, “Let’s grab a burger at the local joint.”
  • A group of friends might say, “We’re meeting up at the pizza joint for dinner.”
  • A customer might ask, “Is there a good joint around here for breakfast?”

24. Eatery

This is a general term for any place where you can eat, whether it’s a restaurant, café, or diner.

  • For instance, “I’m looking for a new eatery to try for lunch.”
  • A food critic might write, “This new eatery offers a unique fusion of flavors.”
  • A customer might say, “The eatery down the street has the best seafood in town.”

25. Diner

A diner is a type of small, casual restaurant that often serves American comfort food, such as burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

  • For example, “Let’s go to the diner for some late-night pancakes.”
  • A customer might say, “I love the retro vibe of this diner.”
  • A server might ask, “Would you like a booth or a counter seat in the diner?”

26. Dive

– For instance, “Let’s grab a burger at that dive down the street.”

  • In a conversation about local food, someone might say, “There’s a great dive near here that serves amazing tacos.”
  • A food critic might describe a restaurant as, “A hidden dive with incredible comfort food.”

27. Eats

– For example, “Let’s go grab some eats at that new place.”

  • In a discussion about dining options, someone might ask, “Any recommendations for good eats in this area?”
  • A person might say, “I’m in the mood for some Mexican eats tonight.”

28. Chow spot

– For instance, “I know a great chow spot that serves the best breakfast burritos.”

  • In a conversation about dining out, someone might say, “I’m looking for a new chow spot to try in the city.”
  • A food enthusiast might recommend a chow spot by saying, “You have to try this hidden gem of a chow spot. Their burgers are incredible.”

29. Noshery

– For example, “Let’s go check out that new noshery in town.”

  • In a discussion about dining options, someone might say, “I’m in the mood for some comfort food. Any good noshery recommendations?”
  • A person might describe a restaurant as, “A cozy little noshery with a great selection of desserts.”

30. Chow joint

– For instance, “I heard there’s a new chow joint that serves amazing barbecue.”

  • In a conversation about dining out, someone might say, “Let’s try that chow joint we saw on the way here.”
  • A food lover might recommend a chow joint by saying, “You have to try this hidden gem of a chow joint. Their sandwiches are fantastic.”

31. Chow shack

A “chow shack” is a small, often informal, eatery or food stand where people can grab a quick bite to eat. It is usually characterized by its casual atmosphere and simple menu options.

  • For example, “Let’s go to that chow shack by the beach for some fish tacos.”
  • A local might recommend, “You have to try the burgers at the chow shack downtown.”
  • Someone might say, “I love the chow shack near my office for a quick lunch.”

32. Chow wagon

A “chow wagon” refers to a mobile food truck or trailer that serves food to customers. It is often associated with outdoor events or locations where people can grab a meal on the go.

  • For instance, “There’s a chow wagon parked outside the concert venue selling delicious tacos.”
  • A foodie might say, “I always look for the chow wagon at the local farmer’s market for some tasty treats.”
  • Someone might suggest, “Let’s skip the restaurant and grab dinner from the chow wagon tonight.”

33. Hole-in-the-wall

A “hole-in-the-wall” is a term used to describe a small, often unassuming, restaurant that may not have a flashy exterior or prominent location. However, it is known for serving delicious food and is often considered a hidden gem.

  • For example, “You have to try the hole-in-the-wall restaurant downtown. Their pasta is amazing.”
  • A local might say, “I found this great hole-in-the-wall sushi place that’s not too crowded.”
  • Someone might recommend, “If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, there’s a hole-in-the-wall joint in the neighborhood.”

34. Food joint

A “food joint” is a casual eatery or restaurant that serves a variety of food options. It is often characterized by its laid-back atmosphere and affordable prices.

  • For instance, “Let’s grab a burger at that food joint on the corner.”
  • A group of friends might say, “We’re in the mood for pizza. Let’s find a food joint that delivers.”
  • Someone might suggest, “There’s a great food joint near the office where we can have a quick lunch.”

35. Chow hall

A “chow hall” is a term used to refer to a cafeteria or dining facility, particularly in a military or institutional setting. It is where people gather to eat meals, often in a communal or group setting.

  • For example, “Meet me in the chow hall for breakfast before our training.”
  • A soldier might say, “The chow hall on base serves surprisingly good food.”
  • Someone might mention, “I remember the chow hall from my college days. It was always packed during lunchtime.”

36. Chow stand

A small food establishment that sells a variety of dishes or snacks. A chow stand is typically set up in a public area, such as a street corner or market, and offers quick and affordable options for customers.

  • For example, “Let’s grab a quick bite at the chow stand on the corner.”
  • A food critic might write, “The chow stand near my office serves the best tacos in town.”
  • A local resident might recommend, “If you’re looking for authentic street food, check out the chow stand in the park.”

37. Chow truck

A mobile kitchen that sells and serves food from a vehicle. Chow trucks often travel to different locations, providing a convenient and unique dining experience for customers.

  • For instance, “I had the most delicious burger from a chow truck yesterday.”
  • A food blogger might post, “The chow truck festival in the city is a must-visit for foodies.”
  • A customer might leave a review, “The chow truck parked near my office offers a great selection of vegetarian options.”
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