Restaurants & Prices
We prefer places like Dennys and Shoneys - Applebees is also good. Generally around $US10 to have a steak/chicken/fish and veggies with fries or basked potato. They have very large portions in the US, no need to order large, if you have room for desert you will pay just $US2 to $US3 for cake, pie, etc. Soft drinks around $US2 with unlimited refills - server will generally bring you out a second glass before you finish the first one.
One thing Americans do very well is do-nuts. They keep them fresh by cooking thoughout the day and only lightly glazing them. Places like Krispy Kremes have windows where you can watch the whole process of do-nut making. This can occupy you for many minutes. The best do-nuts we had was Shipley's which is based in the Texas area. Melt in your mouth.
McDonalds and Burger King (Hungry Jacks in most of Oz) are very common and much the same as they are in Australia. These places are OK for breakfast, we try to have breakfast as late as possible and then do without lunch, saves time and money.
Chocolate! Now here is one thing where the Americans have it all wrong. It is probably got something to do with what you are use to and brought up with. Probably Americans would feel the same about Australian chocolate. It is a problem when you are looking for a snack at the servo (gas station) and the chocolate is not an option. The chockie in Europe is pretty much the same as Australia and just as yummy. The do-nuts well and truly makes up for the bad chocolate.
Aussies are not use to tipping but because the service is so good in the US and you get those refills, we are happy to tip. 15% of the total bill is considered fair - that amount doesn't include any tax you might pay but lets not get picky. If service is bad (which is very rare) we tip as low as 10%, if it is really good (common) we tip up to 20%. A server once told us that she got $3 an hour so tipping is important. A lot of students work as servers and this is a great learning experience for them - give them a good tip. At the end of your meal you will receive a ticket (receipt) with the total amount of your bill. Take it to the cashier, along with your credit card, and they will give you a docket where you can add the amount of tip and then you sign. Or you can leave a cash tip on the table.