• Cheryl Teo

76 Must-Know Restaurant Slangs



Are you an expert at these restaurant terms? It's a whole new language of its own!


2-top, 4-top: Refers to the number of guests you seat at a table.


5 Out: When a chef yells out "5 out!" it means that the dish they are working on will be ready for plating in 5 minutes.


86ed: Sometimes, the kitchen will run out of an ingredient in a menu item. This means it’s 86ed. Usually, the manager or the kitchen staff will alert servers so they don’t offer it or can inform guests.


Adam and Eve on a raft: This refers to two eggs—poached or scrambled—on toast.


All-day: The term "All Day" refers to the total number of items that need to be sent out from the kitchen. The term is usually used at the end of a long sentence.


Al Dente: The term is used when evaluating the correct degree of doneness, particularly pasta.


À la carte: Refers to when a customer orders an individual dish from the menu.


À La Minute - When something is made à la minute, it’s made fresh as opposed to being part of a large batch that was made earlier in the day. 


Back of the house (BOH): The back of the house staff are people who work in the “back” of the restaurant. These people are the chefs, kitchen prep, and storage area staff.


Bev nap: A small, square napkin for drinks.


Busser: Refers to the staff that cleans up the dishes, napkins, and other debris from a table, and clears it off for the next guests.


Bump it: Removing an order from the cook’s kitchen display system screen once it’s made.


BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle


Campers: Refers to guests who linger at their table after they’ve finished their meals and paid the check.


Charcuterie: Refers to a specific kind of cooking that is focused primarily on the preparation of meats such as sausage, ham, and bacon.


Comped: A dish is comped when it is given to a guest for free.


Cooked to Order: This is a type of dish that is cooked to a customers’ specific instructions. Not something that is pre-prepared.


Cut: When a server has been cut from serving more tables.


Dead plate: Refers to a plate that has been in the window and under the heat lamps for too long.


Drop: Begin cooking the accompanying item.


Drop the check: When the server presents the guest with their check at the end of the meal.


Double-sat: This is when a host seats a server’s section back-to-back.


Double shift: When a restaurant employee works two shifts in a row.


Deuce: This is a table in a restaurant that only has two seats.


Dupe: A dupe is information that gets passed to the kitchen from the front of the house staff so the chefs know what to prepare.


Expo: The person in charge of prepping the plates and making sure their presentation is on point before it leaves the kitchen.


FIFO: This refers to prepped food items: First in, First out.


Fire: The head chef in the kitchen uses this term to let everyone know it’s time to start cooking or prepping a dish.


Flash: When a particular meat is undercooked, a chef might "flash it" in an oven to raise the temperature slightly and cook it fully.


Food runner: this person’s job is to run the food to the table.


Front of the house (FOH): The front of the restaurant – the dining room, waiting area, and the bar. This is where the customer-facing employees are: the servers, hostesses, bartenders, etc.


FSR: Full-Service Restaurant.


Gueridon Service: This term usually refers to tableside food preparation. Requires a gueridon (trolley) to be used to transport ingredients to a guest table where a dish is prepared live for the customer.


Happy Hour: Happy hours are ways for restaurants to drive more traffic during their off-peak hours. Most of the time happy hour offers include free drinks, a free dish, discounts, or even a free meal.


Heard: When the FOH and BOH are in sync.


In the weeds: If a server is swamped with a lot of tables to serve at once or has a lot of people to serve.


In the window: When an order is ready to be taken out from the kitchen to a guest’s table, chefs will put it “in the window” – which is the warming area between the kitchen and the serving station.


KDS: This stands for Kitchen Display System; a system in kitchens that displays orders on a screen to chefs.


Last call: This is a warning that bartenders and servers use to notify customers when the kitchen or bar is about to close.


Mise en place: Refers to preparing all of your ingredients and cooking tools prior to actually cooking a dish and is typically done before service starts.


No-Show: A guest that makes a reservation at your restaurant and then doesn't show up.


Omakase: Refers to when customers let the chef choose the course of their meal as opposed to ordering each dish a la carte.


On Deck - What food is coming up next.


On the fly: A server may forget to put an order in or a guest may not like their meal. Under these circumstances, the kitchen may need tot to make a dish as soon as they possibly can – this is “on the fly.”


One star: A customer who makes it their mission to find negative things to say in a review.


OTS - On the side. 


Overhead: Overhead refers to any additional factors that go into calculating food costs at your restaurant.


Party: A group of restaurant guests.


Pick up: When a server or bartender starts working with a guest that was being served by a different employee.


POS: Point of sale; the system that wait staff uses to place orders and where each sale is recorded.


Push it: Sell the item that the person is referring to.


QSR: Quick-Service Restaurant.


Run: The act of bringing something to a table.


Runner: The person “running” food to the table.


Scripting: Informing diners of the special and successfully selling the special.


Shorting: When a supplier charges a restaurant a larger amount than the cost of the products they've received.


Side work: This is prep work performed by the FOH staff.


SOS: Sauce on the side.


Sub: to substitute one menu item for another.


Stretch it: This is when the kitchen makes the most of an ingredient.


Starter: The same thing as an appetizer or entrée.


Station: A set number of tables that a server is assigned.


Straight up: When a diner orders something exactly the way it is on your menu.


Table d’Hôte: A multi-course set menu that is offered at a fixed price.


Table turns: This is the amount of time a table has between seating and paying. Sometimes you will also hear it referred to as “turn time.”


Top: The number of people at a dining party.


Ticket: When an order is entered into the restaurant POS, it prints out a ticket that alerts the kitchen of the order.


Turn and Burn: To turn tables very quickly, usually a result of a busy restaurant with a long waiting list.


Upsell: A technique that servers use to get customers to purchase higher average ticket items.


Use first: The inventory that needs to get used first so that it doesn’t go to waste.


Walk-in: Most commonly refers to a walk-in refrigerator.


Walkout: A diner who leaves the restaurant without paying.


Waxing the table: A term used to infer giving VIP treatment to a table.


Well: Refers to inexpensive house liquors.


Wheelman: The kitchen expeditor.


Working: Food that is in the process of being prepared.


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