8 Things to Hate About Eating in Restaurants

Rant 13

I live in one of the best cities in the world for eating out. There are about 20,000 restaurants in New York City -- everything from Chinese to Italian to Thai to Ethiopian to standard American fare. There are raw food restaurants and vegan eateries. There are steak houses and meatball joints. There are places that serve only dumplings and ones that serve only sandwiches. There are diners open 24/7 and seasonal places open only a few months a year.

We have some of the most expensive restaurants, some of the most romantic, and, I'm sure, some places you'll really regret you ever ventured into. So I've had my share of dining experiences over the years. All good restaurants require only three things: Great food, a great atmosphere, and at least a good price. But bad things about restaurants can run the gamut. Here are eight things I hate about restaurants.

The bathroom sink. Sometimes I dread using a restaurant bathroom. Because I dread that moment when I wash my hands and realize there's no soap and no hot water. And then I see that little employee sign near the sink that says, "All employees must wash their hands before returning to work." And then I realize someone probably touched my food, or at least my plates and glasses, with hands that were "washed" with nothing but cold water. Shudder.

Noise factor. For some reason, a lot of restaurants have gotten into doubling as nightclubs and BLARE music. I've even been to restaurants that have a DJ spinning at a turntable. A big part of the enjoyment of going out to dinner is conversation with your tablemates. When that's impossible, enjoying the meal becomes impossible.

Table placement. In Manhattan, space comes at a premium. Most of a restaurant's overhead can be its rent. So it's no wonder that they try to cram in as many tables as you'd cram sardines in a can. But listening to the conversations on either side of me -- and knowing the people practically on top of me are listening to mine -- give new meaning to the term TMI.

Ill-timed meals. For some reason, the experience of having one or more meals come out ahead of the rest -- waaaay ahead of the rest -- seems to have become almost de rigueur at some restaurants. Then you're stuck staring at your meal while the other person waits for hers. And she's all like, "Go ahead, start eating. Don't wait for me." And you're all like, "No, no, I'll wait." And 20 minutes later, you cave in and start eating and then she stares at you like you just kicked her puppy.

When the bill goes to the guy. Hey, I'd love it if the guy paid for every meal I ever ate out. But the reality is, lots of times I'm paying. And if I'm not paying, I'm splitting the tab. Handing the bill to the guy creates an awkward moment where I think, "Yeah, why aren't you paying?" Plus, it's just kinda sexist. (This goes for handing the wine menu to the guy, too. I have yet to meet a guy who knows jack about wine.)

Refusing to seat just me. I'm usually early. My dining partners are almost inevitably a bit late. When a waiter refuses to seat me until ALL parties are there, I have to wait at the bar (thus spending money for the privilege of waiting on someone) or mill around by the door, getting knocked about by other people. Plus, you're saying, "I don't trust that your party is going to show."

Making me ask for bread or water. Seriously? Just bring it.

The menu is writ in stone tablet. I hate when a restaurant refuses to make even teeny changes to what's on the menu. As long as you've got the ingredients in the kitchen and the food isn't pre-made and the change is small -- say, the clam sauce with the penne instead of angel hair, when there's penne elsewhere on the menu -- what is the issue?? Once, a waitress told me it would be a dollar to add one slice of tomato to a veggie burger. C'mon. You'd think the chef had to go out and grow a tomato! I've even been charged more for asking for less food. Work with me, people!

What do you hate about restaurants?


Image via Dutchgrub/Flickr

eating out, restaurants

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cassi... cassie_kellison

I lived in Italy for three years and you will Always recieve your meal as it comes out. Meaning unless I want my Carbonara to get cold (yuck) then I can already be finished eating before my husband even gets his food. You get used to it, but it is a bit annoying.


My only problems when eating out is if he wait staff hasn't bee properly trained. I can understand waiting if they are super busy, but when my waiter is just moseying around in an 'I'll get to it when I get to it' attitude, it peeves me.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I hate it when they screw up my order and then give me grief about it. Sorry to put you out but if I order a hummus sandwich and you give me a chicken quesadilla (yes, that's a real example) then I will tell you and you will have to go replace it. Get it right the first time and you won't have any trouble but I'm not just going to eat something that will make me sick because you're feeling lazy.

nonmember avatar Sabra

OBVIOUSLY none of you have ever worked in a restaurant. Have you ever thought that maybe there might be reasons why they do things the way they do? For example, you bring 30 people and not even half of you show up. Not only are you taking up the servers' tables (which in case you didn't know...tips are their only source of income because they make around 2.00 an hour) you are inconveniencing other restaurant patrons because all of you refuse to show up in the same 10 minute window. If you wanna cry about going out to eat and then leave a 10% tip because most restaurants don't offer you bread and water off the bat (we're talking a price range of 15-30 bucks folks) then stay home and keep your money. I bet you they aren't going to miss it anyway.

PRIMA487 PRIMA487

I asked what came on a burger and the server told me.So I just asked for onions,cheese and meat on the bun(I can add katchup).Well it was slatherd with mayo and other crap I hate.When I told the server what she told me had come on said burger and that she didn't say mayo and other crap I was told those were "toppings" and I didn't ask about "toppings".

nonmember avatar Jessi

In response to SABRA: This may sound terrible but I tip based on service. If the service is above and beyond I will tip well (once I tipped 50% of my bill and yes, it was deserved) however, if service is lacking, sloppy manners, uncaring attitude, haste, the tip will reflect that. I once had a waitress disappear mid way through our meal. We sat and waited for 40 minutes for her to return, contemplating just walking out. I finally flagged down a nearby waitress who earlier in the evening had seen our impatience and took our drink order while locating our actual waitress. She apologized profusely and offered to locate our server once more. I told her to forget it. Gave HER a modest tip for her caring and concern and reported our actual server to the manager after leaving a penny tip on the table. At that point I think a penny was more than she deserved. If all you see is dollar signs walking through the door and your biggest concern is turning the table for the tip, then maybe you shouldn't be in the service business. I understand it gets busy and often times a server relies on tips but come on, I'm not just paying for the food, I'm paying for atmosphere as well, I'd like to be able to enjoy it.

nonmember avatar L

Its been so long since I've eaten in a restaurant I can't remember anything I don't like about not having to shop prices, make a menu, go shopping, cook and then clean dishes. Maybe rude service but really I could handle even that if it meant someone else cooking for me.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

The first thing here annoys me. Do you honestly think that the bathroom is the only place in a restaurant with a sink and handsoap?  Even fast food restaurants have one in the back, for employees to use during the day. Your hands get greasy, they get dirty, they get gross. And if you're wearing gloves, they get sweaty and covered in the powder that coats the inside. Even if all you do is wash dishes, your hands get dirty. And most restaurants have rules in place that say employees must wash their hands at certain time intervals. So even if the bathroom is out of soap, your server and or chef most likely just used the sink in the back. Seriously? Common sense, here.

Sucro... SucroseMonkey

The Italian places I worked at were the only ones who gave out bread, and it was always given out to a table.  Unless we were out, which did occasionaly happen.  As for the water, some cities actually have ordinances against giving out water unless asked for.  I know my city, this summer, had to enact their "no water unless requested" regulation due to the drought.


A lot of Chicago places do the "no seating unless the whole party is there."  Is it kind of inconvienient for the person waiting, maybe.  However, having worked in food service, I know how it sucks when you are assigned a party of 15 and only end up getting 7.  Or having a table of 1 just sitting there waiting and taking up time while the others mosey in.  

Saras... Sarasahmof3

I look at this list and wonder "Where the Hell are you people eating"  I almost never have a bad experience at a restaurant. The "No seating unless the whole party is there" is understandable, and I only had a problem one time when I was not sure if my nephew was coming, they gave us a table for 6 just in case he did make an appearance but they did not make us wait for him. And with the slight changing of the menu, I have never had a problem. Maybe Delaware is just a nicer place than the "Big City" but here it seems that everyone cares about doing a good job, at least at the places I go to eat.

Foley... Foleygirl24

The only truly bad experience I've ever really had in a restaurant was after my law school graduation. My family and I had made reservations for a really nice steakhouse in town and still had to wait TWO HOURS for a table, and several parties who came in after us got seated first. We didn't end up getting food until 9 o'clock and the place was so loud we couldn't even hear each other talk. So not worth it. My husband actually ended up complaining to the manager and he was really nice and apologetic and gave us vouchers for free stuff, but we'll still never go there again.

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