What’s the point of good manners — of etiquette? To show consideration for others, to make those you come into contact with feel comfortable or at least avoid offending them, and in general to establish common standards of behavior.
What constitutes good or bad manners may seem arbitrary, and the specifics constantly evolve to match societal, cultural, and other changes. However imperfect or inconsistent etiquette might seem, though, it isn’t a matter of raised pinkies and thank-you notes — it’s a framework for smooth and pleasant social intercourse.
There are many kinds of etiquette, of course: golf or tennis etiquette, high society etiquette, workplace etiquette, table etiquette. A longtime specialist in etiquette, The Emily Post Institute, publishes a list of the top ten table manners.
While it’s important to have good manners while eating at home — no burping, no blowing your nose in your napkin, no running off to play before everyone is finished — it’s even more important out in public. Behaving well while we’re out to eat can mean anything from showing up on time to keeping elbows off the table to treating servers well — which is especially easy at the restaurants with the best customer service in America.
The way we behave in restaurants affects not only those at our table but anyone who can see or hear us. That applies whether we’re sharing a communal table at the local Chipotle or enjoying multi-course meals at the best restaurants in America.
People go to restaurants for fun, for nourishment, for pleasure, and one person’s or party’s blatant disregard of basic good manners can ruin the experience for a whole roomful of diners.
Some rules of restaurant etiquette that were once widely known and observed have been largely forgotten today, as we embrace informality and tend to focus on ourselves more than others. Bringing them back — or practicing them more often — will improve the dining-out experience for us all.
Here are 18 worth remembering and, if they’ve been forgotten, reviving.