This subject comes up quite a bit for many people new to raw food.
How and what to order in a restaraunt?
Well, I used to order a large salad and give the waitstaff real specifics, like "no cheese or croutons and avocado instead of meat and dressing on the side".
Then the salad would come with some kind of rice noodles or cooked product on it, or they'd just mess up and add finely shredded cheese which was impossible to get off. I would rarely send it back at that point.
I don't often eat out as it is, and over the years it has come to be sort of an aversion between the challenge of trying to get the idea of fresh food to an uninformed waiter, the cost and the quality of the fruits and veggies.
One thing I've read on a raw support board was to order a salad with everything on the side.
So last week, a friend invited me along with a large group to an Italian restaraunt called Zio's.
I tried the tip of ordering their house salad with "everything" on the side. A friend of mine who was also eating raw ordered a different kind of entree sized salad with all veggies on top of the salad. Then the both of us ordered their brushetta, but just the tomatoes and basil and not the bread and cheese, and two large sides of olive relish.
Well, my salad came, it was small which I was grateful for because I didn't come real hungry. Everything was on the side in little silver cups so I got to choose what to put on my salad. I used the bruchetta topping and the olive relish intead of the oil and vinegar. Everything came exactly as we had ordered it and it was all very tasty.
I felt like I had my own personal salad bar.
My friend discovered that her peppers were charred, which were already on top of her salad.
Everyone got separate checks and my bill came to 2.19. My friend and her hubby must have paid for the tomatoes and olive relish. So I ended up giving my waitress $10. I think a good waitstaff should get the appreciation of a generous tip when they get your order correct. Now what I tipped might be way over the top for someone else, but I had already planned to spend about that much so it wasn't a big deal to me.
Another tip for ordering is to scan the menu and if you see mushrooms, olives, avocadoes, fruit or whatever, then almost always you can get a full order or at the very least, a side of it.
If you notice that their desserts have fresh strawberries, you can order a plate of strawberries before or after your salad for some variety, or to put right in your salad if you'd like.
Many times, especially in a Mexican restaurant I will ask for avocado instead of cheese, or a side of avocado.
I've heard of people even ordering a plate of uncooked veggies in an Asian - usually Thai or Chinese restaurant. These kinds of restaraunts usually cook the food to order, they are not sitting around pre-cooked, so getting all the veggies on a plate should be easy. You can ask for dipping sauce if you aren't 100% raw, or bring some homemade sauce along with you.
I've used a special card before, but it didn't really work with me. The card summed up what I could eat and it is supposed to be handed to the waitstaff. I think the one time I used it, I just got a waitress who wasn't too understanding about diet, and my salad came to me with cheese and croutons. But I've heard others with great success using the card, so it all depends on the type of restaurant and your waitstaff's understanding of a different diet.