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Is consuming bottled water in restaurants anything other than snobbery?
September 22, 2012 1:08 PM   Subscribe

When should I order bottled water in a restaurant?

I drink tap water at home and generally taste no difference between chilled bottled and chilled tap. What would justify ordering bottled water in a restaurant, say, in New York City (ie. somewhere that has tap water known to be safe)?
posted by Dragonness to Food & Drink (22 answers total)
 
When you want sparkling water or water with a particular flavor.
posted by grouse at 1:13 PM on September 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I lived in New York and worked in Manhatten for a year and never ordered bottled; always ordered tap. Most of my local friends did the same.
posted by Piano Raptor at 1:14 PM on September 22, 2012


When you want sparkling water.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:14 PM on September 22, 2012


Good point on the sparkling.

On the flavour: I don't recall ever being given a choice of brands of bottled water.
posted by Dragonness at 1:16 PM on September 22, 2012


When should I order bottled water in a restaurant?

When in a place known for having completely undrinkable water - Mexico, Moscow, etc.

Other than that... Don't waste your money.

/ On preview, also what grouse said - If you want flavored water, cool, go ahead and splurge.
posted by pla at 1:16 PM on September 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't recall ever being given a choice of brands of bottled water.

I went to a fancy seafood restaurant once where before being given a wine list or menu, I was given a bottled water list with six different options. I declined to purchase any of them. Tap water is just fine in most U.S. cities. If the kind of still water is not specified other than "bottled," then there is zero reason to purchase it. It may, in fact, have just come straight from the municipal water supply into a bottle.
posted by grouse at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


When you're somewhere where the tap water is safe but doesn't taste good. Certainly I wouldn't bother in New York, where the city water tastes excellent, but there are plenty of cities where the tap water tastes brackish or over-chlorinated without actually being unsafe to drink.

On the other hand if your main concern is having sparkling water it's usually cheaper to just order a club soda.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yep...New York City has some of the best tap water in the US. In some places, the tap water tastes like chlorine and/or dirt. That's when you go with bottled.
posted by nosila at 2:25 PM on September 22, 2012


If you're ever in Jacksonville, FL. Their water has the strongest sulfur taste I've ever experienced.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:28 PM on September 22, 2012


Our tap water, here in Arizona, tastes like dirt. gag. so I often order bottled water. but more often than not I'll order tap water with lemon and then I drink the lemon flavored dirt water. mmmmmm.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


NYC tap water is literally bottled and sold as such. .
posted by griphus at 3:03 PM on September 22, 2012


I was just coming in to say "when you're in Tucson," but I see that Sassyfras beat me to it.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2012


If there's hydrofracking in the area. Also several places I've been in Florida, Texas, and the Southwest have had awful-tasting tap water for a variety of reasons. So bad that it could mar the overall enjoyment of your meal. Sometimes even the fabled NYC tap water can have way too much chlorine taste/smell (although it dissipates after a few minutes).
posted by theory at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2012


It's been 35 years since I was there, but I remember tap water in New Orleans tasting really terrible. I'm sure it was safe, but it came out of the Mississippi, and had a thousand miles worth of sewage dumped into it before it got down to NOLA.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:37 PM on September 22, 2012


If you were in LA, I would order bottled water over drinking tap water. Something about stealing water from the Colorado River (and fighting over it with AZ) makes it taste ever so disgusting.
posted by ruhroh at 7:05 PM on September 22, 2012


The only time I would order bottled is if I don't think I'll drink all the water while I'm eating, and want to take the rest with me - if I have a long walk or commute to where ever I'm going next. Or very occasionally, if I need a drink bottle for the next few days, I'll order bottled water somewhere and take the empty bottle with me, to be refilled on demand. That only really happens when I'm travelling.
posted by lollusc at 7:28 PM on September 22, 2012


If you can't taste the difference between tap and bottled, consider yourself lucky. Because most of us have tap water that tastes terrible.

And yes, New York has absolutely delicious tap water. It's practically sweet tasting!
posted by gjc at 8:29 PM on September 22, 2012


In Europe you almost always get bottled water.
Regarding bottled water flavour, you might want to look at this YouTube video.
posted by mbarryf at 7:57 AM on September 23, 2012


If you were in LA, I would order bottled water over drinking tap water. Something about stealing water from the Colorado River (and fighting over it with AZ) makes it taste ever so disgusting.

What makes you think that bottled water has a superior environmental provenance? It almost certainly does not.
posted by grouse at 8:50 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know people who order it to avoid flourine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:28 PM on September 23, 2012


I'm perfectly fine with tap water in restaurants, but when it's Restaurant Week and I'm in a small place, and I'm driving (and thus don't want alcohol), I'll order bottled water just to run up the tab a little bit, because I know the already thin margins get really, really thin during those promotional periods. Other than that, if the local water is good, then it's good enough.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:09 PM on September 23, 2012


In some places in Europe there is a prejudice against tap water. Although the water is perfectly tasty and safe throughout the developed nations, there was a time in recent memory when it wasn't; furthermore, the expectation is that you'll be opening a bottle of something (like wine or beer) anyway. Tap water is often not even offered, and if you ask for water, your waiter will assume you want bottled, either still or with gas. I feel a lot of places here feel (and push the feeling) that bottled water is more European, and therefore more cultured, but as you can see that is a chain of specious reasoning from an obsolete premise. Drink the tap water except for reasons given above.
posted by ubiquity at 5:37 PM on September 23, 2012


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