Not every dining experience is a pleasant one.
Here, angry diners share the worst restaurant experience they’ve ever had.
1. Definitely A Big Deal.
At a restaurant in Chinatown in San Francisco about thirty years ago: Was by myself, reading the newspaper, and didn’t notice the razor blade in my Kung Pao chicken. Luckily, it had a small cardboard wrapper around the sharp end, so even though I took a forkful of the entree into my mouth, I noticed something was wrong when I started chewing. I spit it out and shuddered at what might have happened. When I told the waiter, he didn’t think it was a big deal. I walked out…
2. What A Hoot.
I took my wife, who absolutely loves buffalo wing. So, we order wings, and the first thing we see when they’re placed on the table is that there are still feathers attached to the chicken legs and wings. Somehow, the chicken wasn’t fully plucked before it went through the breading/cooking/saucing process, and nobody noticed the feathers poking out everywhere. We asked the waitress if we could get some replacements, because we weren’t going to be eating food that hadn’t been properly cleaned before it was cooked and served to us. Her response? ‘That’s pretty normal; I don’t know that I can get you an order that doesn’t have feathers.’ Done. Never been back, never need to.
3. Butt Out.
My wife and I had ordered fish and chips to go at a less than famous fast-food outlet in New England. The server seemed belligerent to me, so I chided her a bit about her service. I can’t recall what I said; but I do recall what she did in response.
She took my food and put it in an open container and moved to the rear of the outlet; then, using her own ‘rear,’ she picked her butt and made sure that what was on her finger contaminated my food.
Instead of reporting her, I simply dumped the food in the trash. I led my wife away, so that we could find a cleaner place to get take out. I was both stunned and amused. For some reason, it struck me so odd and so incredibly, amazingly horrible that it didn’t registered I could have probable sued her and her employer.
4. It’s An Emergency.
One Tuesday night around 9:30pm I went to one of my favourite restaurants with a date. There was a line of people at the valet waiting for their cars. Entering, the matre d’ informed us that they were closing because exterminators were about to start a routine pest control (story continued on the next page…).
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I asked (a little annoyed since it didn’t made sense and I’d spent the past half hour talking wonders about the place we were going to dine), “Why don’t you do it after closing time?”
He just stared at me and said: “It is kind of an emergency.”
5. Being Free Isn’t Worth It.
Back while I was in high school I worked part time at an ice cream parlor scooping ice cream. The place was run down, dirty, and smelled rotten. One morning a box of brand new supplies was delivered and was sitting on the floor. As I walked by later that afternoon, my foot lightly tapped the box and out scattered cockroaches in all directions. The low wage employees also had very poor sanitation habits. I was quite obviously the only employee who washed their hands after handling money. The final straw for me was the handling of the tubs of ice cream.
When the tub is brand new it’s fine, but after it’s been scooped for a while it gets choppy looking. One of our jobs was the reshape the ice cream, then wipe down the inside of the tub with a rag to make it look cleaner. I have no doubt that this process contaminated the ice cream. I refused to eat anything from that place, even though I could get it for free.
6. Fresh Squeezed Poison.
Many years ago my brother and I had breakfast in a small coffee shop in Plantation, Florida. Served along with our breakfast were two glasses of ‘fresh squeezed’ orange juice. However, one sip made it abundantly clear that what we actually drank was ‘fresh pesticide!’
The unusual color should have tipped us off that something was wrong but we missed that first sign. However we clearly didn’t miss the second sign! Taking our first drinks simultaneously, we also simultaneously spit out the foul tasting drinks with a spray that covered both of us!
Now that we were both covered in the foul stuff, the smell of malathion (that’s what it smelled like to us) permeated the room, bad enough that the folks sitting next to us provided their condolences and mid meal, immediately left the restaurant.
To add insult to injury, we called over the owners (a middle aged husband and wife) and told them about the problem. To our disbelief, they smelled the OJ and pronounced it fit for consumption! Shocked by their reaction, we suggested THEY drink our drinks, which of course they refused to do.
With their refusal to even acknowledge the issue, we refused to pay for the drinks and the owners promptly called the police. Fortunately, the patrolman took one smell of our pesticide OJ , turned to the owners and said they should be grateful that he didn’t run them in for poisoning us.
To this day, I always smell my OJ first before taking that first taste. The good news about this story… since that day, I’ve never been bothered by mosquitos.
7. Not For The Reason You’d Think.
There’s a pizza place near me that I like to go to on Fridays. I got to know the people who worked there a little bit, nothing personal, just enough so we recognized each other.
One evening I maneuvered up to the drive through window and sat there. And sat there some more. A car pulled in behind me and we both sat there. There wasn’t a person in sight.
I got irritated and drove around to the front and went inside and the two people who work the front desk were both busy on the phone. So I waited. And waited some more (story continued on the next page…).
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After 7-8 minutes of me waiting outside, then another 5 of waiting inside, the person finally put down the phone, didn’t say a word to me, and went over to the drive up window and waited on the person who arrived after me.
After she finally got to me and gave me my pizza, I started to leave, then turned back and complained that she made me wait and then served the person who arrived after me. I didn’t yell or curse, but I was rude. So I haven’t gone back.
Not because I got bad service, but because I embarrassed myself and was rude to two nice young ladies who were overworked and doing their best. I still feel like a jerk.
8. Just A Few.
I’ve got a few answers:
Sat down at the breakfast bar at the diner in full view of the kitchen and in half an hour I witnessed one person pick their nose and wipe it on their apron, one cook cough into his hand and go back to preparing food (no gloves, either, not that it would have helped at that point), one server nervously running their fingers repeatedly through their hair, and the other cook apparently dropped something and picked it up and put it back on the grill. I have an iron cast stomach and finished my food, but I told the manager on the way out why I wouldn’t be eating there again (And, to his credit, he was horrified and very apologetic, but still).
I’m mildly allergic to onions. Ordered a sandwich, no onion. They delivered one with onion. I caught it before they left and sent it back. They brought me a new sandwich. IT ALSO HAD ONIONS. We gave them another chance and they did the EXACT SAME THING. Two hungry nights was plenty.
Another waiter at an upscale restaurant I was trying for the first time flat out lied to me when I asked if there was onion in a particular dish. I’m fine with ‘I don’t know,’ but lying is unacceptable. When he brought the dish and there were clearly chunks of onion, I picked several out, laid them on the lip of the plate, and walked out.
9. So Many Places
Place #1 was supposed to be ‘our place.’ We went there when we first started dating. We went there for important occasions. It was a small, trendy establishment…the kind of dim, burgundy, exposed-brick situation that has the full array of craft beers and some sort of pub-Italian fusion cuisine. Then, one night, I ordered tea and it smelled like it had been made with water from the toilet. I thought I had a bad attitude about the meal in general and was imagining it. I wasn’t imagining it at all. I spent the next several days getting to know my bathroom better than I ever thought possible. Never again.
Place #2 put me in the hospital. I ordered a pizza and went on to have some bad times indeed. I was tested and came up positive for E. coli. Other complaints in the area were traced back to the restaurant. They hadn’t washed their green peppers, which apparently still had traces of manure on them. Delightful. I haven’t eaten there since.
Place #3 lost me over the course of two visits. On the first visit, there was a hair in my sandwich. I gave them one more chance, bit into something hard….broken toothpick in my sandwich. And that was that….not going back there.
Place #4 had great food that I really enjoyed. Then I watched an expose on how they ground moldy bread and used it as cheap filler in vegetarian dishes, along with rotten vegetables whose flavor they tried to cover with strong curries. Nope.
Place #5 was a high end French restaurant. I watched from the window as a cat peed in the garden. Then I watched the chef pick herbs from the very same spot, chew a few sprigs thoughtfully, and put the rest in a salad without washing them. That was that…. Too much seasoning.
10. Something’s Up With The Corn Dog.
There’s a local pizza place that my ex was craving so we went to eat in. The Bean (our son) was two at the time, or thereabouts, so our general method of handling him in restaurants was ordering for him the second we walked in the door, or as close to as possible, and having his food brought out with the appetizer. The Bean is a big, big fan of corn dogs, and as soon as we saw it in the menu, yep, that was the choice, so we put in for it. It came out with the appetizers, my ex went to cut it up for him, and it was still frozen (story continued on the next page…).
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Like, block of ice frozen. Hadn’t even made it to the microwave.
So much for fresh. We obviously sent it back to get cooked. It came back with the pizza (good thing the Bean loves calamari, so he had something to nom on while waiting). When we got it the outside looked fine, but the hot dog itself was black. HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN?
I have never been back and I always throw a middle finger their way on my way past, which is reasonably often, because my favorite sushi in northeast Ohio is right next door.
11. Ruined Thanksgiving.
One Thanksgiving my family decided to eat out and go to one of the nice local restaurants having a Thanksgiving buffet. I’ll add right now that, at the time, my sister was being treated for cancer and this would turn out to be the last Thanksgiving we would have with her, which adds to the aggravation. We made a reservation and showed up early. The restaurant was very busy, which wasn’t unexpected. We get to the host stand and they tell us there will be a short wait to be seated. No problem, we were about 15 minutes ahead of our reservation time. In the meantime, several parties without reservations came in after us hoping to get seated. Our reservation time comes and goes, meanwhile, we see several of the parties that came in after us without reservations getting seated ahead of us. These groups were about the same size as ours. One of us notifies the host that we were still waiting to be seated, and they get us to a table.
Even though this is a buffet, there would still be table service for drink orders and, obviously, to clear any dirty plates. Our server steadfastly ignored our table. My boyfriend wanted to order coffee, my mother and her sister wanted to order cocktails, my sister and I would have been happy just to get some water. Nope! No drinks for us. We got the attention of the maitre’d and asked him if he could send our server over. After a few minutes, the servers shows up and takes our drink orders, which then take about 10 minutes to get to us.
We figure our server wasn’t too thrilled that day, at least not with us. Once we knew who he was, we could plainly see him very promptly helping other tables and we just kept saying to ourselves what the hell. We weren’t being jerks or rude or sloppy or loud or otherwise doing anything that would tag us as bad diners. But if we needed anything, one of us had to get up and alert the maitre’d because our server would never come around to our table.
So, we get up to go take a second trip to the buffet, when we return the plates haven’t been cleared. Meanwhile, when diners are finished, servers come over, ask if they would like their plates cleared, and clear their plates. How novel! Even the guy who was supposed to be our server was doing that. Again, the maitre’d is alerted, and, belatedly, our table is cleared. Again, we would like beverages, again we ask the maitre’d, who, at this point, isn’t even bothering to alert our server anymore.
We finally go to get dessert, come back and, again, it still hasn’t been cleared. I then just say screw it, stack the plates and put them on the empty table behind us. Our server practically materialized out of thin air to clear that empty table.
When we finally get our bill, my mother makes a point of giving the maitre’d a pretty large tip, since we basically monopolized the poor man’s time, yanno, because our server didn’t want to serve us. And, yes, we stiffed that prick of a server.
The next day I called and asked to speak to the manager. I was told the manager wasn’t in yet and to call back after a certain time. I do that and am told he was busy and to leave a call back number. I don’t get a call back. I try again the following Monday and still can’t get in contact with the manager. So I ended up writing them a letter detailing the subpar service. The manager writes back, apologizes for our bad experience, and even includes a gift certificate, but none of us ever wanted to go back, so it was thrown out. Really, they royally messed up the last Thanksgiving I would ever spend with my sister, so hell no I was never going back there.
12. Thanks For The Heads Up.
Went to this fast food restaurant. Ordered something. Guy across the counter looked both ways, leaned over and whispered to me, “You don’t want one of those.” He was serious. I left and have not eaten fast food since then (40+ years).
13. Straight To The Point.
Okay, so I love sandwiches and order them somewhat frequently. Luckily, there are some just about everywhere. Well, my now ex-husband and I were headed out to grab something to go as we were at a friend’s house about to settle in for a night of gaming. We both got foot long combos and went on our way. We make it back to our friend’s house and as we all sit down to eat (everyone had gone to different places), I bit into my sub (story continued on the next page…).
I came back with stainless steel. Yes, they’d left their knife in my foot long.
14. Loss Of Appetite.
So many to choose from. Here are some of the most egregious: Incident 1: This was many years ago at a fast food joint. There were several people in front of me in line, someone came up to the counter complaining there was something wrong with their order – I wasn’t able to hear what the problem was. The cashier took a bit out of the person’s partially eaten hamburger, told them there was nothing wrong with it, and then gave it back.
Incident 2: I was at a restaurant with a friend. I was about to start eating my salad when I noticed something moving – a cockroach. I pointed it out to the waiter, who said, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t eat much.’ Yes, this really happened. I thought he was joking at first, but then he walked away and waited on another table. We sat there stunned, and after it became clear the waiter had no intention of rectifying the situation, we left.
Incident 3: This was a cafeteria style restaurant. The silverware and napkins and such were near the register. When I got there, I noticed several cockroaches crawling around the silverware. I suddenly wasn’t so hungry anymore.
15. Um Hello?
Near me is a restaurant, which would fit in the category of ‘sports bar serving American cuisine (burgers, etc.).’ My brother and I went into the place to grab some food after a long and annoying day of work. We entered and were seated, and as it was about 4PM, there were only maybe a dozen occupied tables in the whole place. We were tired and we were hungry.
About 45 minutes later we left. We’d never seen another member of the wait staff aside from the one that presumably covered the area – she peeked in our direction at random a few times from around the corner (where the nearest register terminal is) but did this so quickly we could never get her attention or wave her down. She never once walked the ten feet or so to our table.
As we left, the shift manager (working the bar in the middle of the establishment) said ‘Thanks, bye.’ I walked over to the bar and said ‘We were here for almost an hour. We never got silverware or a menu. We never had a drink order taken. We were seated and ignored the entire time we were here. Goodbye!’ and I left. She stood there with her mouth hanging open and didn’t offer a response.
I called the place about five minutes later and asked to speak to the shift manager. I repeated my concerns, and the woman on the other end responded that she was the person at the bar that I had talked to on my way out. She said that she had reprimanded literally the entire crew of wait staff on hand because of having literally ignored some customers and lost business as a result.
16. Avoid The Croutons.
I was excited to try out this new restaurant that everyone seemed to love. The place was casual, with above average prices, but I was so looking forward to a steak and baked potato.
Before our meal came out we were treated to our choice of salad. My husband opted for the garden salad, with ranch, and myself, the Caesar salad. They were beautiful! His was full of dark and lite green lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and grated cheese. Mine was chock full of romaine lettuce, croutons, shredded parmesan and Caesar dressing, all coated and tossed to perfection.
As we ate we chatted about how friendly the staff was, how good the food….wait, what is this texture in my mouth, it’s chewy (story continued on the next page…).
What I thought was a crouton peeking out from under my romaine, was a USED bandaid! I was absolutely mortified.
After spitting it into my napkin I instantly felt sick and tears came to my eyes. My husband quickly requested the manager, who was also completely speechless.
He tried to convince us to stay and have our meal plus dessert on him, but all I could think of was that someone’s infected bandaid had been in my mouth!
That restaurant chain is out of business now. I had heard other odd things with their salads, like a bug, hair etc. Just wonder how something like hygiene can be so easily overlooked. To this day I avoid croutons.
17. The Wrong Kind Of Clean.
There was a restaurant that opened not far from where we live, so we decided to try it. I don’t remember what exactly I chose from the salad bar, but it had apparently been sprayed with cleaning spray. After I took one bite, I realized I was in trouble. My mouth started burning and my throat started to close; it became hard to breathe. My hubby noticed my distress and called the waitress over. I was able to gasp out that there was cleaning fluid in the salad; she looked bored and said she’d bring me a clean plate. I recovered enough to ask for a manager, who was no more interested than his employee. Needless to say, we won’t go near the place again.
18. Not The Cherry On Top.
My 3 daughters, my wife and I used to go to a regional restaurant because they were moderately priced, had a reputation for good quality and because they claimed to be attentive to food allergies. It was the only place in 10 miles with gluten-free french fries.
The last time we went as a family, we finished up with a shared hot fudge sundae (nut-free, gluten free). The only thing we did not ask for was the large, thick dirty thumbnail clipping that turned up on my wife’s spoon. We called it to the attention of the management, showed them the remarkably large item and they offered to remove the sundae from our bill.
3 years later we can both laugh and nauseate ourselves by bringing it up…