Not having to cook for yourself is a great treat. No recipes, no standing over the stove, and no cleanup. But every now and then, going out to eat can backfire majorly. Whether its undercooked food, freak injuries, or unexpected added ingredients, there are plenty of horror stories out there.
Here, customers share the worst experience they've had at a restaurant.
(Comments have been edited for clarity.)
An Unexpected Dinner Guest
“I was at a restaurant with my wife and mom. It was storming outside really bad. My wife was in heels and I was wearing shorts. I thought she crossed her legs toward me and scraped my shin with her heel.
No, it was a rat. Crawling up my bare leg. I jumped out of my seat, and the rat, wet, fluffy – but honestly pretty cute – perched up on my chair. The restaurant emptied out. The manager chased the rat around trying to catch it in a bucket. The funniest part was that a lady freaked out and stood on top of the booth with a fork to stab the rat if it got too close.
I got a gift card to the restaurant for my trouble. But they didn’t comp my meal. That place is no longer in business.”
Watching A Beheading Take Place
“My family and I went out for a meal in Venice. We found this little Italian place which looked good and had a nice food atmosphere. The next table over was another tourist couple, the woman of which had ordered fish. It arrived with the head attached, which the lady didn’t like. So she asked the (obviously very new and nervous) server if they would please remove the head.
Instead of taking the dish back to the kitchen, this server grabs a knife from another table and hacks the head off the fish. Completely messes up the presentation of the dish, sauce sprays everywhere, which leaves the restaurant-goers a bit put off of their meals. The family and I promptly cringed and left as soon as we could.”
When The Restaurant Shuts Down Mid-Meal
“I was in a restaurant when the manager came in and asked for everyone’s attention and then told us corporate had decided to close all of their chains effective immediately and we all had to leave right that moment. To top it off, this place was absolutely packed with people. There had to be a solid 100 of us in there. We were not even allowed to finish our meals. They gave us 15 minutes to leave or we’d be taken out. Obviously, this also meant that the employees were out of jobs so chaos predictably ensued.
Most of them left but a few lingered to hand out boxes and to-go bags while the manager rushed around trying to get people to pay. My dad went and talked to him just to make sure he understood correctly. We had received our food about 10 minutes before, so we just grabbed our plates, silverware, and drinks and walked across the street to a local park and finished our food there. A waiter even held the door for us while we carried our stuff out. He just shrugged and told us to have a good night. We actually kept the plates and silverware and whatnot for like 10 years as camping equipment. I still have my plate. This was probably 15+ years ago as I was in my early teens. Couldn’t tell you the place, though. I don’t remember but it was a ‘homestyle’ type idea but a much smaller non-national chain.”
When Your Food Tastes Sharper Than Usual
“As a poor college student, one day I ordered a pizza from a chain.
Let’s call them Daddy Jim’s.
I ordered a pepperoni pizza and it was supposed to take 30 minutes or so to be delivered.
It finally showed up after an hour and change. (My punishment for not just walking to the store? Maybe.) I was hungry as heck. I paid the guy, threw the box on the table and got to work.
I took a bite and thought there was a weird scent, but couldn’t place it. I took another bite and had someone delicious pepperoni.
Then another bite – oh my goodness, suddenly I’m bleeding and in a lot of pain.
I manage to spit the food out, but can still feel something in my mouth. I reach in and discover a thumbtack is stuck in my gums.
I look at the rest of the slice and find another one. Somehow thumbtacks – and yes, I literally mean multiple on that slice and throughout the rest of the pizza – had gotten into the cheese or something and then got baked. The weird smell was melted plastic.
I called the store, spoke to an employee, then a manager called me, then a district manager, etcetera.
They comped my meal and then gave me pizza for life. But I never ate there again.
And before you ask, I didn’t want to sue. Never entered my mind. Someone messed up – royally – but I wasn’t permanently hurt.”
Tell The Tooth
“One time I went to a buffet restaurant. You know the type – $7.99, all you can eat with crab/frog legs as an option. I certainly wasn’t expecting great food but I was in college and on a budget so I figured I could fill up for cheap. I was with three buddies and I decide to go to the Mongolian grill section (where you pick the raw veggies/meat/etc. and they cook it for you). I sit down in our booth and about 8 minutes later, a waiter brings over my dish. I take one bite and I feel a hard crunch.
I spit out my bite to find a tooth in my food. I’m no dentist, but I’m 100% certain it was a tooth. It even had some dark, decayed blood on the bottom. I start freaking out while spitting and shouting, “Oh my God, there’s a tooth in my food!” All the other patrons start looking at me and I can hear them whispering, “What the heck?! There was a tooth in that guy’s food?!” I call over the waitress and she, in broken English, asks to see it. I hand it to her and she sprints off to the back kitchen area. I can hear her screaming at someone.
A few minutes later she walks back to our table and tells me that obviously I had put it in there and my buddies and I need to leave right now. Mind you, we haven’t even really had anything to eat and already paid. She threatens to call the police. We were college kids so we just left. We walked to our car and most of the other patrons were pouring out of the restaurant. Since then, that restaurant’s gone out of business.”
When Your Salad Is Too Fresh
“It was a super busy night and when our food was ready, I guess the waiter didn’t examine the plates like one usually would in order to avoid any mistakes. She brought the food out, and five minutes later I called her back… as there was a live green caterpillar crawling in my salad…
She took it back immediately and made me a new one and I was really chill about it. But she was absolutely terrified of caterpillars so she actually freaked out more than I did.
Apparently, they get their salad straight from a farm, so at least it’s fresh?”
Melted Carcasses On Silverware
“I ordered a lemonade at a Vietnamese restaurant. The drink came out with a spoon for mixing it. I pulled out the spoon to find (what seemed to be) a baby roach melted onto the back of the spoon, probably from getting steamed in the dishwasher. I told the server what I saw, and he said, “Oh,” and took it back. When he brought me another one I checked the spoon again. It was the exact same spoon and he’d just scraped off HALF the roach body. Complained to the manager and all they did was offer me a free soda.”
Having Furniture Come Crashing Down
“The worst thing I ever saw happened recently in a rather fancy restaurant in London. A heavy, glass, spherical lampshade which was mounted on the ceiling fell on an old guy a few meters away from me. The guy’s head was bleeding a lot and the lampshade was totally shattered. Restaurant managers didn’t seem too bothered about it (to be fair, the waiters were really busy). I looked up and saw an identical lampshade above me. I left as soon as possible.”
Salad Prepper Nailed It
“Mother’s Day 2009… an acrylic fingernail at the bottom of my salad from the server who prepped the salad. Mother’s Day 2010, sharp acrylic shard in the very last bite of my sautéed leeks. Apparently broke off from the container the leeks were prepped in. Stopped going out to eat on Mother’s Day and apparently acrylic has it out for me.”
Accusing You Of Lying
“My uncle found a wingnut in his pasta at the Olive Garden. He told the waiter, who then accused him of lying to get a free meal because ‘[they] have nothing like this in the kitchen.’ He eventually went back to the kitchen and a chef came out with a Rolodex that had a wing nut on one side and a bare bolt on the other. They paid for our table and kept apologizing, then at the end of the meal instead of passing out one mint per person they brought out the bulk box of mints from their fridge and let everyone grab a handful.”
Giving Away Your Birthday Cake
“It was my 13th birthday (or close to that) and I wanted to go to Red Lobster. My uncle brought in a cake from a bakery that said, “Happy Birthday my name” and the staff took it and held it in the back until it was time for cake. So, cake time comes, and about 15 minutes pass until our waitress comes back and explains to us that they had given the cake with my name on it away to another family celebrating a birthday. And that family had left moments before she told us this. There were literally no words. All they offered us was a free dessert for everyone at the table, which was some lame pie or something. I’m still bitter about that.”
Spaced Out Waitress
“My significant other’s dad took us to the Olive Garden for her birthday. Our waitress seemed very… tired. Really spacey and flighty and had to come back and double check our appetizer order because she didn’t write it down. Then we noticed the slur in her voice when she came back with the wrong drinks. Then she sat down at the booth with us and told us about her day. Then she forgot to put in our entree orders. Then we got the wrong food once it came. Then she offered us a free dessert to make up for it, which we politely declined. We got it anyway and were charged for it. Then she disappeared with my significant other’s dad’s card for a good ten minutes. It was an interesting experience.”
“Ate at a very popular joint that serves sandwiches and specialty drinks. Ordered a house salad and after I took my first bite I started bleeding out of my mouth. There were shards of glass in the salad. The waitress said someone broke a glass near the salad-making station and did not dump it all out like they were supposed to. She freaked out and asked me not to tell management. I couldn’t even talk, I was so busy mopping up blood and spitting out glass. My husband screams at the waitress to get management. The manager comes running over and profusely apologizes, we go to the emergency room, and they clean out my mouth. I had so many cuts I had to be on antibiotics. The restaurant paid the hospital bill and a settlement so we wouldn’t sue.”
“Ended up in a then-popular restaurant near a large university with some friends. We didn’t realize the restaurant was cash-only until we tried to pay. Among our group, we had enough cash to pay the bill and leave an okay-if-not-great tip. One of the employees (or owner?) ended up chasing us down the street and said we needed to leave a bigger tip or only order takeout from now on. He went away when one person pulled out their wallet and actually showed him that we literally had no more cash.”
Being Served Raw Food
“Went to a small restaurant in a small town. Brother ordered chicken strips (typical) and I ordered a burger. We were eating and I noticed my burger was a bit pink in the middle, but I didn’t worry. Suddenly my dad looked at my brother and freaked out; his chicken strips were completely raw in the middle. You know how raw chicken has that transparent pinky look? It looked just like that with some breading. We ended up not paying for any of the food. No one ended up getting sick. The cheesecake was pretty good though.
We drive by that restaurant all the time and they’ve had a ‘looking for a chef’ sign up for a good year and a half or so now.”
Burns Needing First Aid
“I was nine years old at a pizza place with Dad. The server walks up with our meal, balancing the pizza tray above her hand, does an elegant turn at the table, and the pizza slides off into my lap with a splat.
‘Ouch!’ I exclaim. It’s fresh from the oven.
A commotion ensues as the wait staff realizes a little kid has gotten burned. The female servers lead me to the ladies’ room and offer a greasy ointment while blisters well up on my legs and arm.
As we head to the ladies’ room, a busboy goes to work on the mess with a mop. Most of the staff is in a panic and afraid that my father will sue.
When I return, the confusion is even worse: one of the servers is lying on her back on the floor. The busboy hadn’t put up a ‘Wet Floor’ warning sign, so the next server who left the kitchen had slid and fallen hard. She was trying to stay still – which was the smart thing to do when there’s a chance of injury – until the busboy returned, grabbed her by the arm, and tried to force her to her feet.
At that point, Dad nods at the door and we leave.
As to why he didn’t sue, attitudes were different in the seventies. Nobody really thought of it as inappropriate in those days for a couple of waitresses to lead a kid into the bathroom for first aid. Ointment and cold water were enough to take care of the blisters and Dad wasn’t the type to drag me to the Emergency Room as a pretext to lawyer up.”
When They Won’t Take Your Money
“Went to a busy restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day. Service was slow but they were busy, whatever. Steaks and burgers were good.
The waitress never brought our bill. We saw other people get theirs but they had a different waitperson. We asked a few passing by where our bill/waitress was. They all kept saying they would get her or bring the bill but no one ever did.
Tried to go pay at the bar and couldn’t even get the bartender to look at us. No managers in sight. Didn’t want to leave money on table ’cause it would just get taken.
After an hour of trying to give them money we just left.”
Surviving A Poisoning
“I was served raw chicken once as a kid.
It was breaded and covered in some sauce. I was somewhere around 10, and I remember I just started wolfing it down before I realized it didn’t quite taste right, then I looked closer and asked my dad.
He worked in food quality control, so he completely freaked out. He called the waiter over who said something like, ‘we’ll get you another one.’ But my dad told him that wasn’t what he wanted, that they had ‘literally poisoned [his] son’ and I got really scared and upset. Then the waiter argued with my dad that I shouldn’t have eaten it when I realized it was raw, and my dad freaked out and almost punched him in the face.
The manager was slightly better at dealing with my parents, but my dad was right that they poisoned me (not so I’d die like I thought though), I got violently sick and I remember my parents even took me to the hospital just to make sure I’d be okay.
I don’t remember exactly how it all ended, but I know we never ate at that restaurant again and that every time I drive by the place (it’s been closed down for years but the building is still there) I feel a bit ill.”
Drowning In Dressing
“I was at a diner with my mom and first we got the wrong drinks, which was no big deal. It happens. Then my mom got her sandwich and it’s completely burnt. We were still just going to go along with it. Then I got my salad and there was a huge moth covered in the dressing. At that point we were kind of just like, ‘We are sorry but this is a little too much.'”
Finding Bugs In The Buffet
“We would occasionally go to this buffet because they had surprisingly good sushi. I go to get some sushi and there is a cockroach chilling on the ice that’s surrounding the plates of sushi. Um… what do I do? I eventually decide to go back to our table and tell my husband what I saw, and he looks over at the sushi… right as the ‘chef’ takes the tongs that customers are to use, picks up the ice cube with the roach on it, throws it away and PUTS THE TONGS BACK FOR CUSTOMERS TO CONTINUE USING.
Now, part of the reason I went back to the table was to grab my phone and take a picture so there’d actually be proof. But they had just thrown the proof away. I see the waitresses looking at us, then the sushi area, and walking around really nervously. What could we do? We’d already eaten other food, they’d demand we pay. So we apprehensively ate a little more and got a ticket that had the price whited out and lowered… never went back obviously.”
Eating Outdoors Can Be Risky
“I was on spring break in the Bahamas and eating at a hotel restaurant at a large outside patio. There was a sudden strong rainstorm, which wasn’t so bad since we were under cover. However, all the water going into the drain caused a massive herd of cockroaches to flood out of the drain and onto the patio. I remember quickly putting my feet up and I think we ran away from our table until the cockroach flood dissipated. It definitely kind of changed the pleasant atmosphere.”
Serving You Food That’s Still Frozen
“I ate at a place at the beach which had been in business for fifty years or so, and I ordered fried chicken. I took one bite and realized it was still frozen and raw on the inside.
I sent it back, and when I got my chicken it was fully cooked, but still had a bite taken out of it. They had put my same chicken back in the fryer.”
Starting A Brawl
“Someone made fun of my mom’s dress. Others at the table snickered. My father, like some sort of adrenaline-enraged lunatic leaps over our table and tackles the guy. Didn’t hurt since he played college football. (Technique was excellent.) Then others at the table jumped in, trying to pull my father off the guy. Mom and I sat there dumbfounded. Police were called, my father is detained and later released after the police find out what happened. Mom and I slink out of the restaurant mortified with embarrassment. This was the late seventies. Today, my father would probably still be in jail.”
The Nevermelting Ice
“When I was younger, going to Chili’s was a treat. My parents told me I could get anything I wanted. I decided I wanted their cherry slushie and a pizza. When my slushie arrived, I noticed there were large chunks of ice that didn’t seem to get crunched up by the blender. Oh well, who cares. Actually… it’s getting really hard to chew this ice with my teeth… and this ice isn’t melting… I pull a piece out of my mouth to see that it’s GLASS. The drink that I thought was filled with ice was filled with GLASS. I knew my parents would freak out that their child just consumed a bunch of glass so I told them calmly like it was no big deal. Well, predictably, they did freak out. They let us leave without paying in hopes that their loss that evening would be cheaper than what my parents would cost them if we sued. We didn’t sue, we just never went back.”
Refusing To Refund Raw Food
“One day I ordered a buffalo chicken pizza from a joint in my town. Nothing fancy or huge, close to a medium-size chain. Easily a meal for one person, which is why I got it. I bite into the first slice and something tastes off, but the buffalo sauce is strong enough that I can’t figure out what the issue is. Everything just tastes like spiciness. Then I dive into the second slice and realize I’ve just bitten into… goo, basically.
I set the slice down and spit out the piece I had been chewing to realize that I was eating uncooked pizza. Well, partially cooked. The sauce was hot, the cheese was melted, the chicken was cooked… but the pizza dough itself was raw. I started pawing at the rest of the pizza, ripping it apart with my hands, and it was just straight-up uncooked dough. Like, ‘stringy in my hands, sticking to my fingers’ raw dough. I was furious and freaked out that since I had already eaten a slice, I was going to get sick from eating the raw uncooked dough.
I slammed the box shut and drove back to the store. I stormed in, slapped the box on the counter and asked for a manager, who proceeded to tell me that I had done something to the pizza and was lying to him about this. Even though the proof was right in front of him. Now, I try not to cuss so I just dropped a “Are you freaking kidding me right now?” when he said that. The few people in the store were all alternating staring at me, the raw pizza, and the manager. He continued to argue with me that I had messed with the pizza myself, refusing to believe that the pizza was uncooked and refusing to give me either a refund or a cooked pizza. Fed up, I dumped the raw pizza on the floor – which made a nice splat sound – and while I felt bad about it after the fact because some underpaid worker had to clean it up, I did it because I knew the raw, mushy dough would stick to the linoleum tile like glue and maybe prove to someone that, hey, this dough really was raw. That whole ordeal was three years ago and I haven’t been back there since.”
Not One Spill, But Two
“My family and I had taken a trip to the Cevennes region of France, and we were eating at a small restaurant in a really pretty little town. Dad ordered a pint, and the waiter came out, tripped and dropped the glass all over the floor with a lot of it going in my mum’s handbag. The manager came over, said he’d replace the drink, no harm was done.
Mum’s handbag was damp but it was alright. Except, as the manager was coming out to deliver the replacement drink, he tripped AND SPILLED AN ENTIRE PINT OF THE ICE COLD DRINK ALL OVER MY ONE-YEAR-OLD SISTER, THEN STOOD THERE AND DOUBLED OVER LAUGHING. Cue a bunch of swearing and my dad and the manager squaring up. Safe to say we didn’t go back there for the rest of our stay. Nice place in general though.”