In Europe I'm a big fan of Vapiano restaurants. If you haven't heard of them, their concept is to combine the high(er) quality food of a regular restaurant with the self-service model of a buffet. This gets you your food faster and you don't have to tip anyone, which is especially important for North America where tips are around 15-20%.

But how do I search for such upper scale self-service places? A search for "fast food" usually returns McDonalds and Burger King, while a search for "self service restaurant" usually returns buffets which are a different concept. Or perhaps there's a website listing down chains like Vapiano, so that you could at least search for those chains while traveling?


You may be looking for 'fast casual' restaurants whose Wikipedia entry even includes Vapiano. An alternative term is casual dining but that would usually refer to a place with table service.

If there's any table service in a fast casual place, it'll be limited to bringing the food you ordered to the table or removing dishes. I (US native) might tip 10% or a few dollars in that case but it's not standard. The restaurant may have a tip jar at the counter so you can tip (or not) when you order.

Here's Wikipedia's list of fast casual restaurants.

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    Don't leave money at the table, unless you intend to leave it for me. They may not come round ot bus the tables for an hour. There is indeed a tip jar at the cashier. Also unfortunately "fast casual" is not that useful a google word, because the search result list is being vandalized by McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendys, Arbys and other "cheap food in a sack" tier restaurants, who want to believe they too are part of the "fast casual" market, often with a few upscale items grafted onto their menu. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 13 '19 at 9:03
  • @Harper all true but leaving a tip on a table and having it stolen by another customer could happen anywhere. Stick it under a plate if you're worried. – mkennedy Jan 13 '19 at 12:28
  • I'm saying at a fast casual restaurant, that wouldn't even be stealing. Because there is no table service at all; when staff comes out and buses abandoned tables, that is not table service, that is tidying up the restaurant because people are pigs. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 13 '19 at 17:07
  • I understand. I'm thinking of Panera where you can order from a table, or if you order hot food, someone brings it to your table. It's still casual and fast but it's a step up from hang around the counter waiting for your food. I said the tipping wasn't usual. I'm so happy to have never had to work food service that I tend to be generous tipping. I tip when I get take out food from a regular restaurant too. – mkennedy Jan 13 '19 at 18:13
  • Yeah, that thing where you can order food on your iPad off their website from a Panera table is kind of an anomaly. Actually they "run" at my McDonalds too, when you order at the kiosk you take a "table card" that is electronic that geolocates you within the restaurant so a runner knows where to find you. That doesn't mean you tip at McDonalds and you still have to bus your tray. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 13 '19 at 18:39

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