CLEVELAND - In ABC's "Good Morning America" series "Things Experts Won't Tell You," the morning news program honed in on restaurants.
Along with partner Reader's Digest, they unveiled secrets your waiter won't tell you. From what not to order, to what happens behind the kitchen's swinging doors, and secrets that aren't on the menu, check out the list of things your server won't tell you, compiled by Reader's Digest author Michelle Crouch:
1. Is that coffee really a pick me up?
In many restaurants, Reader's Digest says after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots at the end of the day. Whether you order regular or not, you'll likely get decaf. If you want to make sure you get caffeine, order an espresso.
2. Kids menus are "sweeter" than you think.
Many restaurants put sugar in kids' meals so kids will like them more, including extra sugar in the dough for the kids' pizzas, according to Crouch. If the kids want to come back to the restaurant, then the parents will.
3. Fibbing vegetarian
If you're a vegetarian and you ask if a restaurant uses vegetable stock, waiters may say yes, even if they don't use it, says Crouch. Crouch says you'll never know the difference.
4. What's really in that special?
At a lot of restaurants, the special is whatever they need to sell before it goes bad. Especially watch out for the soup of the day. If it contains fish or if it's some kind of 'gumbo,' it's probably the stuff they're trying to get rid of, Crouch said.
5. Lemon in your drink?
Waiters might not tell you to never ask for lemon in a drink. Everyone in the kitchen touches them. Nobody washes them. Waiters just peel the stickers off, cut them up and throw them in your iced tea.
6. Looking out for your health
If you ask waiters how many calories are in a particular dish, many of them are not allowed to tell you even if they know. Instead, a waiter is supposed to say, "All that information is available online."
7. Do waiters mess with your food?
Crouch says she's never seen anybody do anything to food, but she has seen servers mess with your credit card. If a server doesn't like you, they might try to embarrass you in front of your business associate or date by bringing your credit card back and saying, "Do you have another card? This one didn't go through."
8. Every type of milk?
Crouch says skim milk is almost never skim milk in restaurants. Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2 percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; Crouch says it's just not practical.
9. Homemade salads from jars
Some places buy salad dressings in one-gallon jars, then add a few ingredients, like a blue cheese crumble or fresh herbs, and call it homemade on the menu, according to Crouch.
10. The worst thing to order
The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you is to ask for hot tea, Crouch says. The restaurant industry hasn't been able to streamline hot tea. Waiters have to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It's a lot of work for little reward.
11. Scrambled eggs? Probably powder
Crouch says even at the best breakfast buffet in the world, 99 times out of 100, the big pan of scrambled eggs is made from a powder.
12. Remember the kitchen is a big place
People think that just because your food took a long time, it's the server's fault, Crouch says. Nine times out of 10, it's the kitchen. Or it's the fact that you ordered a well-done burger.
13. When you might want to stay away from fish
Crouch says not to order fish on Sunday or Monday. The fish deliveries are usually twice a week, so Tuesday through Friday are great days. Or ask the restaurant when they get theirs.
14. Ever had a date on the side? Waiters know
When you're with a woman who is not your wife, you're a lot nicer, Crouch writes because you know that we know it's not your wife.
15. The best way to become a regular
It's easier to become a regular when you visit Monday-Wednesday, and after you become a recognizable regular, good things will start to happen, Crouch says, like a chef's sample or a filled wine glass without charge.
16. Days to avoid
Don't come in on Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Not only do restaurants have less time to pay quality attention, but it's a special, usually over-priced menu.
17. Shy kid? Order for them
Especially when things are busy, if your kid is shy and it takes them some time to make up their mind or are difficult to understand when they order, order for them so waiters can keep things moving.
18. Using coupons? Tip the difference
Waiters don't mind when you use coupons, Crouch says, but when you do, tip the difference to make up for it. Waiters say they best tippers tend to be middle class who have worked for everything they have, not the wealthy or the kid who inherited trust-fund.
19. On a first date? You usually tip well
Waiters know that you'll tip better if you're on a first date because you're trying to