Restaurant Etiquette: How Long is Too Long to Linger at a Table?

Pay attention to your waiters: they'll let you know when it's time to go.

Dinner Table Manners
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Most good restaurants in the United States—especially popular new places—expect to turn over a table two to three times each night—that means they anticipate a party of two will stay for about an hour and 45 minutes (four-tops are usually allotted two hours). So once you’ve paid your bill, try not to spend the next hour nursing your final sip of wine.

Internationally, diners enjoy a more leisurely pace. In Italy, for instance, experts say it’s virtually impossible to overstay your welcome. Whether you're in Milan or Sydney, meals typically run a full two to three hours. If you don’t know the protocol, look to the waitstaff for cues (think: turning off the music, stacking empty chairs). They’ll let you know when your time’s up.

Whether you're dining at home or abroad, experts recommend ordering all of your dishes at once. Service will run smoother, and the kitchen will help pace your meal accordingly. For help resolving all of your other travel etiquette questions, check out this useful guide.

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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