Dining Out Etiquette – The ELV Way


Ever since the Millennials became the inmates running the asylum, we at ELV have noticed a decided drop in manners, dress, etiquette and general good behavior in the restaurants of Las Vegas. (To be fair: things have been improving lately, with youngsters and boomers alike showing a certain respect for looking and acting their best. Witness the crowds at Carson Kitchen or Bardot Brasserie any night of the week.)

Nevertheless, it seemed a good time to go through some of our essential, restaurant rules of the road, if you will, and remind our loyal readers why good behavior generally insures a great time.

At Eating Las Vegas, we never:

– Shout or wave money to get a bartender’s attention.

– Wear shorts anywhere but the beach or beside a pool (such as at our palatial manse).

– Show up drunk for dinner.

– Show up drunk anywhere. (It is perfectly okay to get drunk at dinner – or the watering hole of your choice – but arriving in that state is bad form.)

– Try to impress the sommelier with our wine knowledge.

– Take more than 5 minutes to decide what to eat. (If you’re a dude and you dither about a menu, uncertain of what to get, you look like a blithering idiot (or even worse, a girl). If you’re a girl, you look like a pain in the ass.)

– Make the waitron recite all of the day’s specials and then order the spaghetti and meatballs.

– Ask for separate checks. (The only way to split the check is to throw down your credit/debit cards and ask the staff to split the bill evenly among them.)

– Tip less than 20%.

– In a good, handcrafted cocktail bar, tip no less than $5 for a round of drinks.

– Fail to follow the waitron’s recommendations or order the special(s) of the day. (Note: those are the dishes the kitchen is lavishing extra care on that day, and you’re a fool if you stick with the boring regular menu….unless you’re ELV – and have eaten everything, everywhere – and just want something boring and by-the-numbers.)

– Fail to show up for a reservation.

– Fail to call and cancel a reservation when it becomes clear we won’t be making it.

– Try to get a hand job under the table from our date.

– Try to give a hand job under the table to our date.

– Paw, accost, or otherwise harass the hot hostesses.

–  Leave without acknowledging, thanking and/or shaking the hands of every staff member who have made our experience an enjoyable one.

– Ask to see the chef – unless it’s to compliment him/her.

– Take up more than a few minutes of the chef’s time if he/she appears at your table.

– Use our date’s water glass as a finger bowl.

– Go to a fish restaurant and order meat.

– Go to a steakhouse and get the fish.

– Take our food allergies out of the house. (If you’re allergic to some food – which you probably are not – eat at home. There, we said it.)

– Ask for anything “on the side.”

– Quiz a hapless waitron on the origin of the food. (If you don’t trust the restaurant, go elsewhere, or better yet, stay home.)

– Eat at a place called Mom’s, play cards with a man named Doc, or sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.

At Eating Las Vegas, we always:

– Let them know how pleased we are to be in their establishment, the moment we walk in. (Whether in a sandwich shop or Michelin-starred palace, you’d be surprised how this small gesture goes a long way to ensuring great service.)

– Order an expensive bottle of bubbly the moment we sit down (if our circumstances allow). (You’d be surprised how this up-front investment pays dividends throughout the meal, when you’re dining in a temple of gastronomy. When you’re dining in Downtown Summerlin – which is neither a town or downtown of anything – stick with Two Buck Chuck or PBR.)

– Follow the sommelier’s suggestions….if we point to a certain bottle on the list and he/she points to a different one at a similar price point. (If this occurs, you’re a fool if you don’t defer to their judgment in these matters, as they and only they know the condition of their list and the bottles on in. If you get the distinct impression you’re being pressured or upsold – a real problem in Vegas – ignore this advice.)

– Try to be ready to order when the waitron is ready to take it. (Doing otherwise severely upsets their timing, and sometimes, the kitchen’s.)

– Wash up before we sit down to dine.

– Blow our nose in the rest room.

– Rise whenever a lady rises from or returns to her seat.

– Offer to pay the bar tab at the bar, before we take our seats.

– Relegate our cell phone to its picture-taking duties and nothing else. (Again, ELV honors this rule more in its breach…only because he’s known as a major, multi-social-media star.)

– Work out the division of the check, and who’s choosing the wine, before we are seated. (A good friend – who is something of a wine high-roller himself – tells many a tale of being at a restaurant with some well-heeled friends who think nothing of topping his $500 bottle of white Burgundy with a $2,000 California cult. If you travel in this sort of company, there’s little advice we can give, but if your means are more modest, by all means, figure out who is controlling the list (and paying for it) before the genitalia measuring begins.)

– Tell them to turn off the music. (Music in restaurants ruins both the music and the food.)

– Demand removal of all filigree (flowers and candles) on the table. (If you’re a testosterone-challenged Blanche DuBois, or a 92 year old grandma who demands pretty (useless) things with her victuals, then we suggest you dine in Downtown Summerlin with the soccer moms.)

– Disdain:

Thick lipped wine glasses

Pre-grated cheese

Polyester napkins

Waitrons who pronounce salmon “SAL-mon”

Managers who walk around the room looking busy doing nothing

Chefs who think the size of their paycheck indicates the size of their talent.

– Request the check by quietly making eye contact and miming the signing of something on the palm of our hand. (Amazingly, this works even in China.)

– Write a thank you note to the management and staff whenever we’ve received exceptional food or service. (Again, ELV doesn’t practice what he preaches (anymore) in this regard. But that’s only because he’s a major media star.* When we want to thank a restaurant for something, we put them on TV, this Web site or the Internet.

– Always eat at the same place several times in a row if we want to be treated like a big shot there. (Great service in a restaurant is easy: just become a regular (or what they think of as a regular). After your third meal within a couple of months, they’ll treat you like you own the joint.)


* In his dreams.



6 thoughts on “Dining Out Etiquette – The ELV Way

  1. When k find a cash tip on a table from a previous diner, I give it to my server and say that I expect good service, and there’s more where that came from.

  2. I have no problem with the shorts part, at least not in my more casual restaurant, and especially not when worn by hot babes. But I’ll add this: Don’t ask for anything you’ll end up not using. You want mayonnaise or a glass of water, we’ll give it to you, but then you won’t touch them, and we just wasted our time and resources (and in the case of the water, Lake Mead).

  3. A great set of DOs and DON’Ts, ELV! Some typos in there (differ vs. defer) but I’ll defer further comment. Las Vegas is and remains the #1 Foodie destination in the world, in my humble opinion. Bon Appetit!

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