So you’ve decided to discover the beautiful country of Lithuania and want to try out some of the delicious local cuisine? Good choice! Lithuanian cuisine is a perfect combination of hearty and comforting dishes that will leave you satisfied and happy.
Whether you’re exploring the vibrant capital city of Vilnius or the stunning sandy dunes of the Curonian Spit, the food is sure to impress as much as the scenery! But before you dive into your plate at any location, let’s learn how to order food in Lithuanian like a pro.
Etiquette At A Lithuanian Restaurant
First things first, let’s talk about Lithuanian etiquette at restaurants. In Lithuania, it’s customary to greet the waiter or waitress with a smile and a friendly “Labas” (pronounced “lah-bahs”), which means “hello” in Lithuanian.
Tip: If you’re feeling extra polite & fancy, you can add “geras vakaras” (pronounced “geh-rahs vah-kah-rahs”), which means “good evening.”
It is also customary to wait to be seated by the waiter or hostess. Instead of walking to an unoccupied table, you should scope the scene, search for a worker, and wait for them to seat you.
You may also be asked “Kiek jusu zmoniu?” (kyek yo-su zmo-nyu) which means “How many people in your party?” To answer, simply choose to state the number of people in your group, for example, “du” (doo) for two people.
Tip: learn numbers in Lithuanian to help you answer this question!
Unlike some other cultures, it’s not considered rude to call out for a waiter, but it’s always better to be patient and wait for them to come to you. Once you’re seated, the waiter will bring you a menu.
Take your time to browse through it and if you need any support or help, don’t hesitate to ask the server. In Lithuanian, you can say “ar galite man padėti pasirinkti?” (pronounced “ahr gah-lee-teh mahn pah-deh-tee pah-seer-eenk-tee”), which means “can you help me choose?”
How To Order Drinks In Lithuanian
In a Lithuanian restaurant, it’s common to order drinks first, before ordering food. The waiter will ask you what you would like to drink by saying, “Ką gersite?” (What will you drink?) or “Ką galėčiau jums atnešti gerti?” (What can I bring you to drink?). You can reply by saying, “Prašau atnešti vandenį” (Please bring me water) or “Atneškite alų” (Bring me beer).
Did you know that beer is the most common alcoholic beverage in Lithuania? Try a Genys craft beer or go to any number of local bars to be served delicious locally-made Lithuanian beer. Lithuanians pride themselves on their local beers rather than beer from large corporations. It’s a large part of their drinking culture!
Other beverages you may want to order in Lithuanian:
- Tea – Arbata
- Wine – Vynas
- Cocktails – Kokteiliai
How To Order Food At A Lithuanian Restaurant
When it comes to ordering food, there are a few polite phrases you should keep in mind. Firstly, you can ask the waiter, “Ką rekomenduojate?” (What do you recommend?) or “Ką čia yra geriausio?” (What’s the best thing here?). If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, this is a great way to get recommendations from the locals.
When you’re ready to order, make sure to say “prašau” (pronounced “prah-sow”), which means “please” in Lithuanian. It’s always polite to start with a greeting, so you can say “Labas, aš norėčiau užsisakyti…” (pronounced “lah-bahs, ahsh noh-reh-chow oohz-si-sah-kit-ee”), which means “hello, I would like to order…” followed by the name of the dish you want.
You can also use other variations of phrases like “Prašau vieną cepeliną” (One cepelinai, please) or “Duona su sviestu, prašau” (Bread with butter, please). Remember to say “prašau” (please) at the end of your request, to be polite (& show off to customers your epic Lithuanian language skills!)
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try to pronounce some of the famous Lithuanian dishes. One of the most popular ones is “cepelinai” (pronounced “tseh-peh-lin-eye”), which are potato dumplings filled with minced meat, mushrooms or curd. Another must-try dish is “šaltibarščiai” (pronounced “shahl-tee-bar-sh-chay”), a cold soup made with beets, kefir, cucumbers, and dill.
Famous Lithuanian Foods To Try At A Restaurant
Now, let’s talk about some famous Lithuanian foods that you should definitely try. First up, we have cepelinai, which are potato dumplings stuffed with meat or cheese. They’re named after the famous Zeppelin airships, because of their shape. This is a symbol of Lithuanian cuisine.
Legend has it that the dish was invented by a Lithuanian cook who worked on one of the Zeppelins. And just like the Zeppelins airships, the cepelinai are also out of this world!
Another story is that cepelinai, also known as “didžkukuliai,” were invented by Lithuanian chef Juozapas Naujalis in the early 20th century. He was inspired by the traditional dumplings made by the Karaite minority in Lithuania and decided to create a larger version filled with meat. The dish instantly became a hit, influencing modern Lithuanian cuisine and becoming famous all over the country.
Try the famous soup called šaltibarščiai that has been a part of Lithuanian cuisine for centuries. The soup was originally made with just beets and water, but over time, other ingredients like kefir, cucumbers, and dill were added. It’s a refreshing dish that’s perfect for hot summer days and is often served with boiled potatoes or rye bread.
Another dish you should try is kibinai, which are pastries filled with meat or vegetables. They originated from the Karaim people (yes, the same people who created the first version of the dish cepeliani), who migrated from Turkey to Lithuania in the 14th century.
Tip: Though these dishes don’t seem super vegetarian friendly, you can actually make all of these dishes without meat!
For dessert, make sure to try šakotis, which is a traditional Lithuanian cake. It’s made by layering batter and rotating it over an open flame, resulting in a tree-like shape. The name šakotis comes from the Lithuanian word for “branch”. It’s said that the cake was originally made by shepherds over a campfire, so the Lihtuanian people keep its baking traditions alive today!
Finishing Your Meal
Now that you know how to order food and some of the history behind Lithuanian cuisine, let’s go over some more phrases that will come in handy during your meal. If you want to ask for the bill, you can say “galiu gauti sąskaitą?” (pronounced “gah-lyoo gah-oo-tee sahn-skahy-tah”), which means “can I get the bill?”
If you want to compliment the place on food or service, you can say “viskas buvo skanu” which means “everything was delicious!”
Now that you know how to order food and what to order, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your meal. But before you go, here’s one last tip on tipping. In Lithuania, it’s common to leave a small tip of around 10% of the total bill. It’s also important to note that if you’re in a hurry and need to pay your bill quickly, you can ask the waiter for the bill by saying “Galiu sumokėti?” (Can I pay?).
Don’t be afraid to practice your Lithuanian skills on your visit to a Lithuanian restaurant. The locals are friendly and will appreciate your effort! I hope this guide on ‘how to order food in Lithuanian’ was useful to you. A little practice a day will make a huge difference!
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