3

I have heard these words used when dining in a person's home, but I am not sure if it's appropriate to use them in a restaurant.

7

頂きます is a way of honouring the food you are about to eat, as well as everything that made it possible for you to eat this food (the nature that provided it, the person preparing it, etc.). It is never inappropriate to say 頂きます before eating or drinking something, no matter the place or occasion.

ご馳走様でした is only slightly different. Its origins lie in thanking whoever prepared the food (e.g. see About ご[馳走]{ちそう}: two “runs” would give you “a feast”? and Etymology of ごちそうさまでした). Of course, this makes it extremely appropriate for the restaurant situation and you will hear it from people thanking the chef, kitchen staff or waiters for the meal. Still, I would say that many people treat it in fact as a counterpart to 頂きます, with the same sentiment of thanking not only the cook, but everything that made it possible for you to have this meal, making it also never inappropriate to say ご馳走様でした, even if you prepared the food yourself.

0

As a manner of cultural context, it's always appropriate to use these two greetings in public, but it's not exactly standard. The only Japanese people I've met who use them in restaurants have specific personalities and are very eager to appease whoever they talk to.

I sometimes hear ご馳走さん used by single men, especially in ramen shops. I do not hear ご馳走さま at all. いただきます is generally used by children. Usually I hear nothing from couples or groups. In family-run countryside shops, more friendliness may be appropriate than in urban fast food chains.

Personally, regardless of who I am dealing with, I say nothing when I receive the meal, and どうも after I pay my bill, as part of my quest to make どうも the standard word for all urban interaction.

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