Eating, drinking and ordering like a local
June 11th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

You know the drill. You’re on line at Starbucks, you order a mocha cookie crumble frappuccino from the barista, give him or her your name and wait impatiently for it to be called out so you can grab the last available armchair.
Or not - at least if you’re a Brit lining up in a London Starbucks. There, locals resent giving up such classified info, according to a BBC News story titled "Will You Tell Starbucks Your Name?" "I am not looking to make friends when I go into a coffee shop. I just want a drink," the English actor Arthur Smith told the BBC. "I don't want to go clubbing with them."
If you’re vacationing in London, there are plenty of ways to deal with this scenario, whether or not you want to go clubbing with your barista. You can give a fake name; you can say your name really is Skinny Cinnamon Latte; or you can behave like you do every day of your life at your local coffee shop and use your given name. The following are some strategies to employ if you want to be an insider, whether you’re in Philadelphia or Toyko. 

Cheesesteak Ordering in Philadelphia
Watch a cheesesteak expert in action; you’ll see that ordering is a super-efficient process. First comes the cheese: "Prov" (provolone), "Wiz" (Cheez Whiz) or American. Then, the big decision, "Wit" or "Wit-out" (with or without fried onions). "Wiz wit" = cheez whiz + onions. "Prov wit-out" = You’ve got this one. 

You can either practice your orders on your family or take advantage of one of the countless helpful detailed websites on the subject. Rick's Steaks (owner Rick Olivieri is a "third generation steak master") even has an Order Like a Local feature on where you plug in the details of what you want and it tells you exactly how to say it.

In-N-Out Ordering Around the US
As the amazing In-N-Out burger chain expands from its L.A. home base across the country (there are now locations in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Texas), their secret menu is no longer so secret. Especially because it’s listed right on their website as Not-So-Secret Menu. That secret menu has six variations on the burger, including 3×3 and 4×4 (the number of beef patties and American cheese slices) and the now-classic Animal Style (instead of a raw onion slice, you get caramelized onions; you also get your burger fried in mustard and a bunch of extra pickles).

In fact, there are several more actually secret menu items (Animal Style fries!). Kenji Lopez-Alt ate his way through a bunch of those options for Serious Eats, including the Flying Dutchman, which is a 2×2 with nothing else.

Pizza Ordering in Italy
You’re probably a pizza expert in your hometown. But if your hometown is not in Italy, and you’re looking for a snack, know this: Pizza should be eaten at al taglio places (translation: pizza by the slice). Point at the pizza you want, and order by size, or more specifically by grams. Note, unless you’re trying to overindulge in Italy, 100 grams is about enough for one serving.

Avoid pizza in caffes, especially when you see a microwave in the corner. Here’s more useful information for pepperoni aficionados from blogger Sara Rosso, author of the ebook "How To Order An Italian Coffee In Italy": "Peperoni in Italian are bell peppers, not pepperoni in the U.S. which is hot salami. So if you want hot salami on your pizza, don’t order a pizza with peperoni (note the spelling – just one p), order a pizza diavola or look for a pizza that has salame piccante as one of the ingredients."
Sushi Ordering in Japan
Trevor Corson wrote the book on sushi, literally (it’s called The Story of Sushi). He has lots of amazing pointers for ordering and eating sushi in Japan; here are just a few of them.

1. If you want to be in charge of your sushi selection, know this word, okonomi, which means, “as I like it.”  Then know the Japanese names of the fish you like, which you order one by one, as you’re eating. Insiders start with lighter fish, then go to stronger-tasting fish. And don’t eat more than two pieces of the same nigiri. The point of sushi is variety; do not go overboard on the toro.

2. If you want the sushi chef to be in charge, know the word, omakase, which means “I leave it up to you.” And then know that that sends a signal to the sushi chef that you’re not overly concerned about the price of the meal. If that’s not the case, you should inform the sushi chef that you have a budget for the evening. That recommendation from Corson applies to U.S. sushi spots; I encourage people to have a good amount of money if they say omakase to a Tokyo sushi chef.

3. Many sushi connoisseurs are not afraid to pick up sushi with their fingers. Good sushi should fall apart in your mouth; the rice shouldn’t be packed too tightly which can spell disaster for chopstick users. Some people use chopsticks so they won’t mix up the flavors on their hands, but most good sushi places provide a damp cloth and most neat people will wipe their hands between pieces of nigiri.

4. You’ve probably heard this before, but Corson will tell you again: Fish from a good sushi chef does not need to be submerged in wasabi-filled soy sauce. Those good sushi chefs add all the flavorings the fish needs before they hand it to the customer. And here’s something you might not have heard before: wasabi stirred into soy sauce rapidly loses both its spiciness and its flavor.

More from Food & Wine

Best Burgers the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

How to Make Sushi

Best Steak in the U.S.

Summer Grilling Ideas

Previously - How to eat sushi and Three steps to cheesesteak supremacy

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Cheesesteak • Content Partner • Fast Food • Food and Wine • In-N-Out • Pizza • Regional Sandwiches • Sushi

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. emergency plumber Shillington

    It's really a great and helpful piece of information. I'm glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

    June 14, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  2. Ashley

    I grew up in philly and I have never heard anyone order like that except stupid tourists. Where did this come from?

    June 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

    Had pizza last night in Kearney Mo . Ordered 2 appetizers to have before the pizza & she told us that they had to cook it before she could bring it out ;-) yeah he Loves Missouri !!!! LOL

    June 12, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. RJ

    "You’re on line at Starbucks..."
    Last I checked, you could be "online"/"on-line" or "in line" at Starbucks...or anywhere else. I'm pretty the author's trying to say "in line"....

    June 12, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Cam519

      Its both. The phrases "in line and on line" were around before the internet. "Waiting on line" may not be used much in the U.S. any more but it's frequent in the UK, Australia, and other English speaking populations outside North America.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  5. MarkGlicker

    All this seems confusing.

    June 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  6. This or that

    How do I order food that came from a gestation crate?

    June 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Dr. B

      By the litter

      June 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  7. Sam Meyer

    Just to add a bit to the discussion of ordering pizza by weight at Italian pizza stands and carts (also called Pizza Rustica) - it's generally ordered by 100g, but the slang for this is an "etto." Uno etto is a little less than a quarter of a pound, and is typically a slice of pizza about 3 inches by 6 inches. "Due etti" is 200g, and "due e mezzo" is 250g.

    June 11, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  8. JellyBean

    Dude in that photo is scary looking.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
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