I went to a restaurant for a meal and didn't manage to finish it, so there was some food leftover. How do you politely ask a server/waiter/waitress to wrap the food up?

And is the expression "wrap up" correct?

  • I just ask for a doggy bag. (That works in Australia, anyhow.) But perhaps more generally, you could just ask if the leftovers could be put in a container to take away. (Restaurants where I live are always happy to oblige, however I put it.)
    – ralph.m
    Nov 20, 2015 at 3:44
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    I'd say "Can I have a box, please?"
    – herisson
    Nov 20, 2015 at 3:56
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    Generally, in the US, you ask for "a box", but it varies somewhat with the restaurant and the type of food. The waitress may then offer to box up the food for you, or may return with a styrofoam container and let you place food in it as you wish.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:19
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    @LiveMynd "doggie/doggy bag" is a euphemism, people ask for a doggie bag for several reasons: they actually do have pets; they spent a lot of money and they don't want to see it wasted; the food was too much, but they're happy to eat leftovers the next day etc..Restaurant folk know this, in fact, it's so well-known, people have stopped pretending the food is for their pets, and just come right out and admit it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 20, 2015 at 6:53
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    Serving staff who cannot speak English sufficiently well, shouldn't be serving English native speakers in the first place. It's simply bad business. But if their English is acceptable, I would have thought restaurant mangers instruct them fully on their policy about leftovers—a very common occurrence—before unleashing them to the public. But maybe not everyone does. In the restaurant I used to work in, as a teenager, staff were properly trained.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 20, 2015 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


There are several options:

1) Could I have a to go container for this? Thanks. 2) I'd like to take this home. 3) Could you box this up for me? Thank you.

I haven't heard "doggie bag" used in a long time, and to me isn't the impression I want to generate about the restaurant's food.

Sometimes, a server will ask you if you'd like to take the food home. If not, just use one of the expressions I gave.

If you had a sandwich it makes sense to use "wrap up" but for some things, not.

Some fine dining places will not have take out containers and will politely decline.

  • Waitperson? Is that yet another term for server/waiter/ess? I thought server was the ubiquitous term in the US.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 20, 2015 at 8:07
  • @Mari-LouA you're right...server is better. Nov 20, 2015 at 8:57

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