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Your Complete Guide to Must-Know Finnish Restaurant Phrases


Do you know how to order food in Finnish? There’s a good chance – though it’s not guaranteed – that the staff serving you in a Finnish restaurant will speak English. However, we strongly recommend learning at least the most important restaurant phrases in Finnish. You’ll get so much more out of your dining experience if you do – and can still communicate if it turns out there’s no one to serve you in English! 

In this article, we will cover essential restaurant phrases in Finnish language to help you book a table, order food, settle the bill, and more with confidence. Of course, there’s more to dining in a foreign country than using the correct vocabulary. What about local customs? Should you always book a table? Should you leave a tip in Finland? We will answer these questions so that you can be fully prepared and focus on enjoying the food and the atmosphere.

A Smiling Waiter Brings Food to a Couple

Hyvää ruokahalua! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Before Dining
  2. During Dining
  3. After Dining
  4. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

1. Before Dining

Before you can tuck into a delicious meal, you need to know where you’re going, think about making a reservation, and know how to make special requests. In this section, we’ll guide you through all these steps and teach you many useful Finnish conversational restaurant phrases.

A- Asking for restaurant recommendations

Locals are the best source of information when you’re looking for a good restaurant. Here you’ll find how to ask friends – or passers-by – for recommendations. Alternatively, try these phrases to find somewhere to eat using an online search engine.

  • Anteeksi, onko tässä lähellä hyvää / edullista ravintolaa? (”Is there a good / affordable restaurant nearby?”)
  • Tiedättekö missä on lähin ravintola / pikaruokala? (”Do you know where the nearest restaurant / fast food joint is?”)
  • Voitteko ehdottaa meille mukavaa lounaspaikkaa? (”Can you suggest a nice lunch spot for us?”)
  • Tiedättekö ravintolaa, josta saa kasvisruokaa / vegaanista ruokaa? (”Do you know a restaurant that serves vegetarian / vegan food?”)
  • Mikä olisi hyvä ravintola lapsiperheelle / romanttisille treffeille / bisneslounaalle? (”Which restaurant would be good for a family with kids / a romantic date / a business lunch?”)
  • Mikä on suosikkiravintolasi / kaupungin paras ravintola? (“What’s your favorite restaurant / the best restaurant in town?”)
  • Haluaisin syödä suomalaista ruokaa. Mitä ravintolaa suosittelisitte? (”I’d like to eat Finnish food. Which restaurant would you recommend?”)

An Empty Restaurant Ready for Customers

Where should you eat? Ask the locals!

B- Making a booking

Now you know where to go, but should you book a table? It depends. If you’re planning to dine with a large group, in a very popular restaurant, or during a particularly busy time for restaurants – such as äitienpäivä (“Mother’s Day”) – it’s a good idea to call or make an online booking. Otherwise, it should be fine to just turn up, though you may need to wait for a while for a table to become available. If you make a booking, be sure to turn up on time and always inform the restaurant if you need to cancel.

 Here are phrases to help you make a phone booking in Finnish:

  • Haluaisin varata pöydän kahdelle huomisillaksi. (”I’d like to book a table for two for tomorrow evening.”)
  • Haluaisin tehdä pöytävarauksen kolmelle henkilölle sunnuntaiksi kello kuusi. (”I’d like to make a table booking for three on Sunday at six o’clock.”)
  • Onko teillä lauantai-iltana tilaa kahdeksan hengen seurueelle? (”Do you have room for a group of eight on Saturday evening?”)
  • Haluan peruuttaa pöytävarauksemme. Emme pääsekään tulemaan. (”I want to cancel our table booking. We can’t make it after all.”)

Now is also a good time to ask anything you need to know about the restaurant:

  • Ovatko lapset tervetulleita? (”Are children welcome?”)
  • Onko teillä lasten syöttötuolia / leikkipaikkaa? (”Do you have a high chair / play area for children?”)
  • Onko ravintolanne esteetön pyörätuolin käyttäjille? (”Is your restaurant accessible for wheelchair users?”)

We will cover phrases about dietary requirements later on in the article!

C- Arrival

When you get to the restaurant, you may be asked if you have a reservation:

  • Onko teillä pöytävaraus? (”Do you have a table reservation?”)
  • Millä nimellä teillä on varaus? (”What name do you have a reservation under?”)
  • Meillä on pöytävaraus nimellä Pekkala. (”We have a table booking under the name Pekkala.”)
  • Olen varannut pöydän nimellä Karhu. (”I’ve booked a table under the name Karhu.”)

If you haven’t got a booking, you usually wait to be taken to a table, especially when you see a sign with this message:

  • Olkaa hyvä ja odottakaa pöytiinohjausta. (“Please wait to be seated.”)

You will soon find out if there’s room:

  • Tervetuloa! Seuratkaa minua. (“Welcome! Follow me.”)
  • Valitettavasti meillä on täyttä. Voitteko tulla takaisin puolen tunnin päästä / puoli kahdeksalta? (”Unfortunately we’re full. Can you come back in half an hour / at half past seven?
    • Kyllä, se sopii. (“Yes, that’s fine.”)
    • Koetamme onneamme muualla, kiitos. (“We’ll try our luck elsewhere, thank you.”)

D- Your table

If there’s plenty of space in the restaurant (or you’re making a booking ahead of time), you may be able to choose where to sit. Here you’ll find phrases to help you talk about table preferences.

  • Missä haluaisitte istua? (“Where would you like to sit?”)
  • Haluatteko istua sisällä vai ulkona? (”Do you want to sit inside or outside?”)
  • Haluamme istua ikkunapaikalla / terassilla / leikkipaikan vieressä / lähellä baaria. (”We want to sit by the window / on the terrace / next to the play area / near the bar.”)
  • Voisimmeko saada isomman pöydän? (”Could we have a larger table?”)
  • Voimmeko istua tuossa pöydässä? (”Can we sit at that table?”)
  • Onko teillä pöytää hiljaisemmassa paikassa? (”Do you have a table in a quieter spot?”)

Empty Glasses and a Reserved Sign on a Restaurant Table.

Pöytä on varattu. (”The table is reserved.”)

2. During Dining

Before we move on to ordering food, let’s cover some essential vocabulary. These phrases are super useful, so be sure to memorize them:

  • Anteeksi. (“Excuse me”, “Sorry”)
  • Kiitos. (”Thank you”, ”Please”)
  • Kyllä kiitos. (”Yes please.”)
  • Ei kiitos. (”No thank you.”)
  • Haluaisin… (“I would like…”)
  • En halua… (“I don’t want…”)

A- The Menu

Now onto the most delicious part – the food! Once you’re seated, it’s very likely that your waiter will hand you the menu, but we’ll teach you how to ask for one just in case. We’ll also cover various questions you may have about the food.

  • Saisimmeko nähdä ruokalistan? (”Could we see the menu?”)
  • Onko teillä ruokalistaa englanniksi? (”Do you have the menu in English?”)
  • Onko teillä lasten ruokalistaa? (“Do you have a children’s menu?”)
    • Kyllä, tuon sen teille heti. (”Yes, I’ll bring it to you right away.”)
    • Valitettavasti ei ole. (“Unfortunately we don’t.”)
  • Mikä on suosituin annoksenne? (”What’s your most popular dish?”)
  • Mikä on päivän erikoinen? (“What’s today’s special?”)
  • Mitä karjalanpaisti sisältää? (“What’s in the Karelian stew?”)
    • Naudanlihaa, porsaanlihaa, sipulia ja juureksia. (”Beef, pork, onion and root vegetables.”)

  • Do you want to quickly translate foods from English to Finnish? Find dishes, ingredients, and other food vocabulary in our handy online dictionary, and listen to how they are pronounced in Finnish!

 Be sure to mention any preferences, dislikes, allergies and dietary requirements when ordering.

  • Haluaisin syödä kevyen / täyttävän lounaan. Mitä suosittelette? (”I’d like to eat a light / filling lunch. What do you recommend?”)
  • En pidä mausteisesta ruoasta. Sopiiko tämä annos minulle? (”I don’t like spicy food. Is this a good dish for me?”)
  • Onko tässä annoksessa äyriäisiä? (”Does this dish contain shellfish?”)
  • Olen allerginen pähkinöille. Voiko pähkinät jättää pois salaatista? (“I’m allergic to nuts. Can the salad be served without nuts?”)
  • Vältän gluteiinia. Onko teillä gluteiinitonta pastaa / pitsaa? (”I avoid gluten. Do you have gluten free pasta / pizza?”)
  • Voitteko valmistaa tämän ilman maitoa / kermaa? Minulla on laktoosi-intoleranssi. (”Can you prepare this without milk / cream? I am lactose intolerant.”)
  • En syö eläintuotteita. Mitkä annokset ovat vegaanisia / voi valmistaa vegaanisena? (”I don’t eat animal products. Which dishes are vegan / can be made vegan?”)
  • Onko ruokalistallanne jotain diabeetikolle sopivaa? (”Do you have something suitable for a diabetic on your menu?”)

 These are some of the common allergens to look out for:

  • maito (”milk”)
  • muna (”egg”)
  • pähkinä (”nut”)
  • maapähkinä (”peanut”)
  • soija (”soy”)
  • vehnä (”wheat”)
  • kala (”fish”)
  • äyriäinen (”shellfish”)
  • seesami (”sesame”)

B- Ordering Food and Drinks

Let’s order, starting with the food: 

  • Oletteko valmiit tilaamaan? (”Are you ready to order?”)
    • Olemme valmiit tilaamaan. (”We’re ready to order.”)
    • Tarvitsemme lisää aikaa. (”We need more time.”) 
  • Haluatteko tilata alkupaloja / lisukkeita? (“Do you want to order appetizers / side dishes?”)
    • Ei tällä kertaa, kiitos. (”Not this time, thank you.”)
    • Kyllä, otan leipää / salaattia / ranskalaisia perunoita / enemmän riisiä. (”Yes, I’ll have bread / salad / French fries / more rice.”)
  • Mitä saisi olla? (”What would you like?”) 
  • Mitä haluaisitte alkuruoaksi / pääruoaksi? (“What would you like as the starter / the main course?”)
    • Alkupalaksi otan päivän keiton ja pääruoaksi risoton. (”I’ll have the soup of the day as a starter and the risotto as the main course.”)
    • Tilaan vain pääruoan. Haluaisin pihvin lohkoperunoilla. (”I’ll order just a main course. I’d like the steak with potato wedges.”)
  • Entä teille? (”And for you?”)
    • Otan tämän, kiitos. (”I’ll have this, please.”)

 Next, let’s find out how to order drinks:

  • Haluatteko tilata jotakin juotavaa? / Saisiko olla jotakin juotavaa? (”Would you like to order something to drink?”)
    • Ehkä myöhemmin. (“Maybe later.”)
  • Entä juotavaksi? (”And to drink?”)
  • Haluaisimme nähdä viinilistan. (”We’d like to see the wine list.”)
  • Mitä viiniä suosittelette? (”Which wine would you recommend?”)
  • Lasi / pullo talon punaviiniä / valkoviiniä, kiitos. (”A glass / bottle of the house red wine / white wine, please.”)
  • Otan appelsiinimehua / kivennäisvettä / olutta. (”I’ll have orange juice / mineral water / beer.”)
  • Saisimmeko kannun/kannullisen vettä? (“Can we have a jug of water?”)
  • Haluamme tilata lisää juomia. (“We want to order more drinks.”)

Let’s hope you left some space for the dessert! Here’s how to order a sweet treat to finish the meal – or do as many Finns do and go for a cup of coffee:

  • Haluatteko nähdä jälkiruokalistan? (“Would you like to see the dessert menu?”)
    • Ei kiitos, otan vain kahvia. (”No thank you, I’ll just have a coffee.”)
    • Ei kiitos, olen täynnä. (”No thank you, I’m full.”)
    • Kyllä kiitos. (“Yes please.”)
  • Haluaisimme tilata jälkiruokaa. (”We’d like to order dessert.”)
  • Otan vaniljajäätelön suklaakastikkeella. (”I’ll have the vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.”)
  • Haluaisin palan juustokakkua. (”I’d like a slice of cheesecake.”)

A Couple with Two Young Children Looks at a Menu

Lasten kanssa syömässä (”Dining with children”)

C- Other requests

Often, a waiter will check in during your meal and ask if everything is going well:

  • Onko kaikki hyvin? (”Is everything alright?”)

If you need to get the attention of your waiter, you can simply say Anteeksi (“Excuse me”) followed by your request.

  • Saisimmeko lisää vettä / leipää / lautasliinoja / jäitä? (“Could we have more water / bread / napkins / ice?”)
  • Haluaisin toisen lasillisen viiniä / olutta, kiitos. (”I’d like another glass of wine / beer, please.”)
  • Meiltä puuttuu suola ja pippuri. (”We haven’t got salt and pepper.”)
  • Saisinko uuden lautasen / lasin / lusikan / haarukan / veitsen? Tämä on likainen. (”Could I have a new plate / glass / spoon / fork / knife? This one is dirty.”)
  • Missä vessat ovat? (”Where are the toilets?”)
  • Missä on naisten / miesten / esteetön vessa? (”Where is the women’s / men’s / accessible toilet?”)
  • Missä voin vaihtaa vauvan vaipan? (”Where can I change the baby’s diaper?”)

D- Feedback and problems

Your waiter may also ask you if you’re enjoying the food:

  • Miltä ruoka maistuu? (”How is the meal?”)
    • Ruoka on herkullista. (”The food is delicious.”)
    • Tämä on todella hyvää. (“This is really good.”)

If there are any issues, let the staff know as soon as possible to give them a chance to put things right:

  • Olen pahoillani, mutta… (”I’m sorry, but…”)
  • En tilannut tätä. (“I didn’t order this.”)
  • Keitto on kylmää. (“The soup is cold.”)
  • Tämä on liian suolaista. (”This is too salty.”)
  • Tämä maistuu raa’alta / palaneelta. (”This tastes raw / burned.”)
  • Pyysin jättämään kerman pois. (“I asked to leave the cream out.”)

A Smiling Waiter

Hymyilevä tarjoilija (”A smiling waiter”)

3. After Dining

 The only thing left to do after a satisfying meal is to settle the bill. This section will help you successfully navigate the payment process in Finnish.

A- The Bill

When you’re ready to pay, you can ask for the bill using one of these phrases:

  • Lasku, kiitos. (”The bill, please.”)
  • Saisimmeko laskun? (“Could we have the bill?”)
  • Olemme valmiita maksamaan. (“We’re ready to pay.”)

 If you notice a mistake, mention it right away:

  •  Anteeksi, laskussa on virhe. (”Sorry, there’s a mistake in the bill.”)
  • Anteeksi, laskussa taitaa olla virhe. (“Excuse me, I think there’s a mistake in the bill.”)

Who’s paying? Here’s how to communicate whether you’re paying together or separately: 

  • Haluatteko maksaa erikseen vai yhdessä? (”Do you want to pay separately or together?”)
  • Haluaisimme maksaa erikseen. (”We would like to pay separately.”)
  • Maksamme yhdessä. (“We’ll pay together.”)
  • Minä tarjoan. (“It’s on me.”)

B- Payment methods

Cash, card, or something else? Let’s talk about payment methods: 

  • Miten haluaisitte maksaa? (”How would you like to pay?”)
  • Maksamme käteisellä. (”We’ll pay with cash.”)
  • Haluan maksaa pankkikortilla / luottokortilla. (”I want to pay with a debit card / credit card.”)
  • Mitkä luottokortit hyväksytte? (”Which credit cards do you accept?”)
  • Voinko tehdä mobiilimaksun / lähimaksun? (”Can I make a mobile payment / a contactless payment?”)
  • Note that contactless payment works only for transactions up to 50 euros. 
  • Find out which mobile payments are popular in Finland.

C- Tipping

Should you leave a tip in Finland? In short: it’s not compulsory or expected, but it is appreciated. There are Finns who tip habitually and Finns who never do. Many Finns will leave a tip when the service and food have been exceptional. Note that tips are often divided equally among all restaurant staff and are taxed like regular income in Finland.

 There are no strict rules when it comes to the size of the tip, but anything between 5% and 15% of the bill is acceptable. Some people simply ask the waiter to ‘round up’ their bill or keep the change when they’re paying. If you have cash on hand, you can leave the tip on the table before you leave. If you’re paying by card, you may have the option to add a tip using the payment terminal – or simply ask your waiter to add a tip to the bill.

  • Voitte pitää vaihtorahan. (“You can keep the change.”)
  • Voitte lisätä viisi euroa tippiä. (”You can add five euros as a tip.”)
  • Voitte pyöristää kuuteenkymmeneen euroon. (”You can round up to sixty euros.”)
  • Haluaisin jättää tipin. Miten se onnistuu? (”I’d like to leave a tip. How do I do it?”)

A Restaurant Bill

Lasku, kiitos. (“The bill, please.”)

  • If you’d like to see more examples of restaurant phrases and listen to recordings to help you with your pronunciation, our Finnish restaurant vocabulary and phrases list is for you.
  • Do you have time for another quick Finnish language lesson? To learn food phrases in Finnish, try our vocab builder, Food.

4. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

In this guide, we have covered the entire dining experience, from asking for restaurant recommendations and booking a table to ordering food and making a payment. Do you know any other Finnish restaurant words and phrases that we should have included? Feel free to drop a comment to give us feedback, or let us know what other guides you’d like to see on the FinnishPod101 blog!

Be sure to stop by FinnishPod101 and explore everything we have to offer. We provide plenty of free resources, including a large collection of vocabulary lists. We also have an extensive lesson library and a premium service, MyTeacher, for learners who want to supercharge their studies with 1-on-1 coaching and a personalized study plan.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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