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How to Order from a Menu Quickly

Are you an indecisive diner?

One of those people who can’t decide what to eat at a restaurant? You know, the type that prevents the entire table from ordering while you debate each menu item over in your head.

Well, it’s time to fix that. Here’s a quick three-step process you can follow to order your meal quickly:

  1. Focus on Preferred Options
    Start by looking for special items that you strongly prefer. It might be special foods you like or dishes that you wouldn’t cook at home. It helps to understand your preferences before sitting down at the table. I personally love lamb, but never make it at home. So if it’s on the menu, I only focus on the lamb options. If you have no preferred options, skip to eliminating bad options.
  2. Eliminate Options
    Next, eliminate dishes you don’t like for one reason or another. If the dish is too spicy, too bland, too expensive or contains ingredients you hate, eliminate it. I hate mushrooms, so if a dish contains mushrooms that can’t easily be omitted, I eliminate that item from my choices. If you don’t like eating what others order, confer with your table mates and eliminate their selections from your options too.
  3. Pick an Option
    At this point, your remaining options should all be good options. In fact, if you started with preferred options, they are all great options. So pick any of your remaining options. Use your gut, pick the cheapest, flip a coin or select the one with the longest name. It doesn’t matter how you choose, you’ve greatly reduced your chances of making a bad choice.

Sounds obvious, but if you keep these steps in mind, and try to make your decision in step 3 as fast as possible, you’ll have greatly optimized your decision process. You won’t always pick the absolute best dish for that night, but you’ll be eating well most of the time. And your fellow diners will appreciate the speed of your decision.

Have you tried this method? Does it work for you? What steps might be missing?


  1. Ha! This is funny. A quick algorithm for menu choosing. The “gut” usually knows, though not impulsively. For me, step 1 is survey entire menu. step 2 is say I don’t know about 7 times. step 3 is make the waiter wait while I listen to my gut under pressure. and voila! i usually pick right. 🙂

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