There are different kinds of restaurants: fast food restaurants, coffee shops, pizzerias, etc., and they are all known for serving specific types of food. For the sake of comedy, sometimes characters may go to a restaurant and order a type of food that they wouldn't be expected to have. Or, to take the joke even further, they may try to order food at a business that doesn't even sell food!
Why characters do this depends on this situation. Some characters are just too stupid to comprehend that, say, a Japanese restaurant doesn't sell lasagna. Alternatively, they may do it just to get a reaction out of the restaurant workers. Or maybe the character is just so arrogant that they believe they will be served something special.
This trope seems to be becoming less and less common in real life, due to many restaurants expanding their menus to include items besides the foods they are most well known for.
- A Coca-Cola advertisement has a young western man trying to order a bottle of Coke in a far eastern shop. There are a few awkward misunderstandings until the young man mimicks drinking from a bottle, at which point the shopkeeper immediately understands that he wants a Coca-Cola. Then he tells him - politely and in perfect English - that this is a hardware store.
- Subverted in a Pizza Hut ad. One of a group of friends jokingly orders a hamburger. The waiter promptly brings out the new product, a hamburger pizza.
- In the My Little Pony fanfic Alarm Clock, Golden Harvest goes to a diner in Ponyville, then says she's feeling adventurous and wants to try meat, and she asks the waiter for a copy of the "carnivore menu".
- In one scene of Ant-Man, a guy is at a Baskin-Robbins (which serves ice cream) and tries to order a burger, then a pretzel, and finally, "whatever's hot and fresh."
- A time-travel example happens in Back to the Future, when Marty stops in Lou's Cafe in 1955 and he tries to order two beverages which don't exist at that time.
Marty: (holding up the torn phone book page with 1955 Doc's info) You know where 1640 Riverside Drive...
Lou: (annoyed) Are you gonna order something, kid?
Marty: (stuffs the page into his pockets) Uh, yeah. Yeah, give me a Tab.
Lou: A tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.
Marty: Okay, give me a Pepsi Free.
Lou: You want a Pepsi, pal, you gotta pay for it.
Marty: Look, just give me something without any sugar, okay?
Lou: Something without sugar...
(Lou gives him a cup of coffee)
- Julian in Big Daddy asks for lasagna at a McDonald's, and when told they don't serve that there, he asks for a breakfast item, which they also don't have, as it's the afternoon (although that's since been changed).
- When Chandler Young meets with Tom Everett in Caddyshack 2, the latter is driving a food truck and the meeting is conducted under the guise of a food order. Young orders two high-class sandwiches and Everett replies "Don't have it." both times. He then makes something of his own choosing.
- In Get Shorty, the obnoxious, pint-sized prima donna Martin Weir makes a point of ordering whatever he feels like at the moment, regardless of whether it's on the menu or at all appropriate for the restaurant. Then he plucks his incredulous lunch guests' menus out of their hands and does the same for them.
- In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors gets pulled over by the cops for driving recklessly. When the cop walks up to his car window to question him, Phil acts like he's at a drive-thru and asks the cop for burgers and fries.
Ralph: And flapjacks.
Phil: Too early for flapjacks?
- Hudson Hawk. The Candy Bars are ordering dinner at a restaurant in Italy. Butterfinger, who is very stupid, orders a steakburger and french fries because he thinks they're in France.
- A non-edible example in Notting Hill where a wonderfully clueless guy keeps trying to buy novels in Will's travel bookshop.
Will: Martin? Your customer. (leaves)
- In Kill Bill, one of O-Ren Ishis mooks orders a pizza while in a nice Japanese restaurant. The waiter politely tells him they don't make pizzas, the mook makes his demand a second time while brandishing his katana.
- There is a BattleTech novel where a character who was a mech warrior for ComStar ordered a bottle of a House Kurita beer...in a bar on a House Davion world. He was in the ComGuards so he didn't realize his mistake until the bar patrons got angry.
- In one Captain Underpants book, the author suggests ordering a cheeseburger at a shoe store. This becomes a Brick Joke later on when Captain Underpants returns after a short absence, and explains that he was at a shoe store, ordering a cheeseburger.
- Tim Wildmon mentions this as a one-off joke in My Life as a Half-Baked Christian. He is discussing the family's occasions eating out and gives the audience a piece of very good advice: fajitas aren't served at Italian restaurants. (He and his family primarily eat out at Mexican and Italian restaurants and he at least once forgot which type of restaurant they were at.)
- A memorable incident in the Burn Notice episode "Dead Drop" involves Sam and Fiona BS-ing the guard at a defense contractor that they think the building is a restaurant and telling him they have a reservation, all so that Michael can get over the fence and disarm a bomb on their client's car.
- When the protagonists in The Golden Girls lose their winning lottery ticket, Rose pleads their case to the lottery commission over the phone in the hopes they can offer a solution. The friendly man on the phone is sympathetic to their plight, but explains that she dialed his Chinese restaurant, not the Florida Lottery. As consolation, he offers them free egg rolls the next time they visit his restaurant.
- The British series of Hell's Kitchen once had comedian Vic Reeves attempt to order two fried eggs, which prompted the following reaction from Gordon Ramsey:
"Do you think I'm here to cook you fried eggs? Are you a professional pleb? You come to a smart restaurant and want fried eggs."
- One Calvin and Hobbes strip saw Calvin answering the phone at home and immediately start ordering a pizza. The flustered person on the other end couldn't even put together a coherent sentence before Calvin claimed the caller had the wrong number and hung up.
Calvin: I try to make everyone's day a little more surreal.
- In one FoxTrot strip, Andy hears from a friend that Roger is visiting an art dealer named Reubens & Reubens, thinking he's going to get some for her for Christmas. Sadly, Roger was on lunch break and thought they were selling reuben sandwiches.
- In one verse of the Sesame Street song "The Letter N" by Nick Normal and the Nickmatics, Nick enters a fancy restaurant under the impression it's his favourite pizzaria.
I said "Where's the pizza, where's the root beer?"
They said "We never, never, never make a pizza pie here."
- In Rowan Atkinson's "Indian Restaurant" Stand-Up Comedy routine, one of the drunken patrons attempts to order a hotdog before passing out.
- Dat Phan, a finalist on Last Comic Standing, mentioned in his routine that he likes to troll Japanese restaurants by requesting a fortune cookie at the end of the meal. After he's accosted for doing so, he promptly apologizes, and then orders a burrito.
- John Pinette had a routine about deliberately invoking this trope. After waiting in line for what seems like hours at an ice cream shop, getting angrier and angrier at everyone wasting time in front of him, he finally reaches the front of the line and decides to strike back. He orders an ice cream sundae with ham on it. "Oh, you don't have any ham? There's a supermarket next door. Go buy some."
- In the game Sussed! (a game where each person is asked a question about themselves, and the other players try to guess what they answered), one of the answers to the question 'What sort of thing I would do?' is 'Deliberately order a Big Mac from a pizza restaurant'.
- Referenced in Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach; one of the dufflebags has a message from one of the former Pizzaplex's employees who was fired for not fulfilling a customer's order. The order in question was for chicken alfredo, which Pizzaplex doesn't serve, yet despite this, the employee was fired on the spot for non-compliance and as an excuse to get him replaced with a S.T.A.F.F. Bot. However, it turns out that the S.T.A.F.F. Bots can't make chicken alfredo either, so the manager who fired the employee got fired by higher-ups as well.
- Daughter for Dessert: The protagonist gives Mortelli special permission to order the same toast and coffee that hes always ordered, even after the diner gets a complete menu change on its reopening.
- A memorable scene in Code MENT has Lelouch calling Suzaku, who's shopping for clothes but only finds soup. Lelouch gets increasingly angry trying to explain how to find clothes there, and only finding more soup, until Suzaku reveals that's the only thing the store sells ("I'm at soup.").
- Zig-zagged in this Not Always Right story, where a customer tries to buy cigarettes (with a fake ID) at a yogurt shop, and gets turned down for both having a fake ID and for going to the wrong store.
- Subverted in this story. A man goes into a vegetarian restaurant and orders a steak. The newly hired waitress (telling the story) has to inform him that as a vegetarian restaurant, they don't serve steak. But then the owner's daughter reveals that they do serve steak. It turns out the daughter decided to label the restaurant as "vegetarian" despite not knowing what the word means.
- In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Bowser Junior's Breakfast", when Chef Pee Pee takes Junior to Waffle House, Junior tries to order pancakes, despite Chef Pee Pee telling him that Waffle House doesn't sell pancakes. Chef Pee Pee then convinces the manager to smash up a waffle and pass it off as a pancake. In the same episode, Junior also tries to order a Pepsi, despite the fact that Waffle House sells Coca-Cola products, as well as a pizza.
- Zig-zagged the This Duckburg Life episode "Out to Lunch", Launchpad heads to his favorite burrito place, only to find out at the drive way that it's been replaced with Sushi Shenanigans. Luckily for him, the man stationed at the drivethrough offers to make him Mexican-style meals using the sushi ingredients.
- In the Walrusguy Youtube Poop, "Link Gets a Job at Gwonam's Restaurant So He Can Earn Enough Money to Buy a PlayStation 3", when Link works at Squadallah Burger, which has a sign that says, "NOTICE: We only serve Burgers" in no uncertain terms, most of his customers try to order foods that aren't burgers. On Day One, King Harkinian tries to order a pizza, on Day Two, Light Yagami tries to order potato chips, on Day Three, Mario and Luigi try to order spaghetti, and on Day Five, the floating disembodied Mario head also tries to order a pizza. Unfortunately for Link, Duke Onkled's Diner sells all kinds of different foods, and as a result, he ends up not earning any money on Payday.
- A commonly done form of prank video involves going to a drive-through or calling to an order-in restaurant (or even a non-food business) and deliberately asking for items that are not available.
- In the Adventure Time "Islands" miniseries, Susan Strong (AKA Kara) discovers that her old childhood friend now runs a toy store. While there, a man enters the store and asks for soup. From the owner's reaction, the guy comes in a lot.
- Subverted in an episode of Arthur. In the episode "Locked in the Library", Muffy calls the library after hours to ask Mrs. Turner about borrowing some books but when Francine answers the phone Muffy assumes she's called the wrong number and hangs up.
- In Bob's Burgers, when the kids enter a yacht club, Gene orders the butler to bring him a plate of mini burgers, much to his confusion. In the end the butler does bring him a plate, though.
- The Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven" features a subplot where Stewie gathers together the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, who then proceed to act like idiots. This includes when they go to McDonald's, with Michael Dorn asking if they serve beer, Jonathan Frakes trying to order a Shamrock Shake out of season, and Wil Wheaton wanting a hotdog.
- In the South Park episode "Chickenlover", Officer Barbrady stops at Fran's National Bank to order some cheeseburgers and jalapeno poppers. Since he's illiterate at the time, the teller has to remind him that he's at a bank.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Pizza Delivery", someone calls the Krusty Krab for a pizza by mistake. Not one to miss out on a quick buck, Mr. Krabs smashes some Krabby Patties into a pizza and has SpongeBob and Squidward deliver it. Hilarity Ensues.
- In "The Bully", Patrick calls Mrs. Puff's Boating School, thinking he called Pizza Castle, and tries to order a pizza. SpongeBob is actually glad Patrick called, and hopes he will stand up to Flats for him. Unfortunately for SpongeBob, Flats is Patrick's old community college buddy.
- In "Squidville", SpongeBob and Patrick are at the gate to Tentacle Acres, where Squidward has moved. Patrick mistakes the intercom for a take out window and makes an order.
- In "Seance Schmeance", an old man keeps coming to the Krusty Krab mistaking it for the restaurant that was there before, asking for a Rusty on Rye. SpongeBob holds a seance to learn the recipe from the original cook and, after some help with Mr. Krabs getting rid of the partying ghosts, makes the sandwich for the customer at the end of the episode.
- In "Komputer Overload", a customer is at the drive thru of the Chum Bucket and keeps trying to order items that the Krusty Krab sells. Plankton angrily tells the customer that they don't sell any of those items, and if he wants any of those, he should go to the Krusty Krab.
- Inverted in "Pickles", where a customer places an order entirely in Hash House Lingo, but Squidward is the one who doesn't get it.
Bubble Bass: I'll take a double triple Bossy deluxe, on a raft, 4x4 animal style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease, make it cry, burn it, and let it swim.
Squidward: We serve food here, sir.
- There is an urban legend (at least in Russia), about an immigrant to Japan who wasn't good in Japanese, and didn't trust the local cuisine that much either. She was taught the phrase "please deliver such-and-such pizza to address X." For some time, it worked, until they found a guy who spoke Russian (or she learned a bit more Japanese), and told her "lady, perhaps it would be better for you to call a pizzeria instead of a library?" Patient, helpful people.
- Cashiers at certain fast-food restaurants are trained to respond in a standardized way, just in case someone tries to, say, order a Whopper at McDonalds.
- The "Sir, this is a 'Wendy's'" meme is based on this. It doesn't matter what the customer said (unless they're ordering, say, a baconator and a frosty for example, because that would ruin the joke).
- Exploited and subverted in this news story. A woman suffering from domestic abuse called 911 for help, but her abuser was presumably close enough to hear what she was saying, so she pretended to be ordering a pizza while dropping subtle hints to the operator that she needed help. The operator initially didn't get the ruse and told her "This is the wrong number to call for pizza," but fortunately, he quickly caught on and sent the police to help her.