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What We Learned About Dining Etiquette This Year

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As the NYC restaurant world continues to change, so do the rules surrounding dining etiquette. This year, we learned a lot of new "dos" and a lot of new "don'ts." Here's a look back:

DO Know the House Rules, Before Going In:
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[Cesar Ramirez of Brooklyn Fare; The ticket sign at Katz's; Marc Forgione]
When eating out at a hot restaurant, it’s best to pretend that you’re in the house of your boss, in-laws, or an important foreign dignitary whose native customs seem strange to you: treat your host with respect and observe the rules, no matter how arcane they may be. For example, when dining in the company of Cesar Ramirez, keep your hands on your knife and fork, and not your notepad, camera or cell phone. At Katz’s Delicatessen, hold onto that ticket, or if you’re not the ticket-holding type, be prepared to enter with a crisp 50 to pay upon exiting the deli. And when dining at Marc Forgione's eponymous Tribeca eatery, be discreet if you hear him having a stern talk with an employee, and just keep your mouth shut. Remember: sometimes being a good guest is even harder than being a good host.

DON'T Dress to Impress:
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[Flip Flops are fine; shorts are not; tank tops get a pass]
These days, hardly any dining rooms require guys to wear blazers and ties, and ladies to wear dresses. As we learned this year, restaurateurs want you to be comfortable, and some even want you to wear any old crap you found crumbled up in the bottom of the hamper: jeans, tank tops, flip flops, a Disco Biscuits t-shirt — whatever. Maybe leave the cargo shorts/jorts at home, though.

DO Accept Gifts:
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[free pizzas at Co.; free burgers at EMP; free lobsters at Le Petite Crevette]
If a restaurant is generous enough to offer you a gift, always accept — it is a sincere token of their gratitude to you. For example, say a pizzeria gives you free pies after seating you at a table that is cramped, sweaty, and basically just as uncomfortable as the 6-Train during rush hour. Just take the pizzas, and know that they are deeply sorry. Or, say your meal at a fancy fine dining place starts with an off-the-menu trio of lamb sliders because you tweeted about eating at Burger King the day before, and the restaurant did some internet guest-stalking in anticipation of your arrival. Don't be freaked out, just smile and say “thanks.” And if a chef throws a lobster your way, by all means, put a bib on, and dig in.

DON'T Worry, Flo Fab's Got Your Back:
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It can be tough navigating the choppy seas of dining etiquette, but there is always one light to guide us: Florence Fabricant, NYT restaurant writer, and manners master. Her nuggets of wisdom are practical, at times humorous, and completely in touch with life in modern day New York. They also sound great over a Kanye beat:

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