Restaurant Horror Stories That Will Ruin Your Appetite

Soup and fly


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Soup and fly

Dining Nightmares

You'll want to eat at home after reading these stories of filthy kitchens, horrible service, restroom mishaps, and sky-high bills that sent customers into a frenzy. From bugs swimming in soup bowls to kitchens crawling with rats, these restaurant horror stories will have you rethinking whether eating out is really worth it. 

Related: Beloved Restaurants and Bars That Closed Permanently During the Pandemic


Shocking Behavior

A group of friends at a Baltimore restaurant were in for a harrowing experience after their server refused to serve a glass of orange juice to one of their friends who suffered from Type 1 diabetes. As a result, the friend went into diabetic shock and started shaking uncontrollably before collapsing on the floor. Paramedics were then called to the scene and took the friend outside where they gave him an intravenous sugar solution to help stabilize his blood sugar.

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front view of flying honey bees in a swarm on green bukeh
Andreas Häuslbetz/istockphoto

Stinging Goodbye

On June 26, an NYPD beekeeper was called to remove a swarm of bees that had made a hive in an outdoor seating area of a Times Square restaurant. Luckily, no person (or bee) reportedly was harmed during the hive removal process, but the thousands of bees covering part of the restaurant's wall must have spooked some patrons.

Cockroaches on kitchen counter

Roach Away

A restaurant in Central Florida was recently ordered to close for the second time in two weeks. The Florida Sanitation Department said the infractions "went beyond simply serving food out of code or out-dated," and that live roaches, as well as roach droppings, had been found in several parts of the restaurant — including one near the oven, and one crawling out of a paper towel dispenser. In addition, the restaurant was operating with an expired Division of Hotels and Restaurants license.

Close-up young rats sniffs leftovers on a plate on sink at the kitchen.

It's a Rat's World

A Chipotle in New York City was shut down indefinitely in late 2020 after droves of rats were discovered inside its kitchen. The chain's ex-employees said the infestation had gotten so bad that at one point the rats were "feasting on avocados" and chewing through computer-system wires. At least four of the store's employees were also bitten by the rodents, and said that sometimes they had to stomp on them in order to get around the kitchen.

Grubby kitchen

Layers of Grime

According to a server with 15 years of experience in the food industry, he once worked at a restaurant that was filled with dirt, rat feces, and even dead animal carcasses. The user shared on Reddit that the kitchen's "clean pots and pans" were covered with several layers of grease. He also added that the entire kitchen reeked of a dirty bathroom and the amount of flies swarming the trash resembled "a tornado." 

Related: What Really Gross, Dangerous, and Grueling Jobs Pay

House burnt down

A Fiery Escape

Imagine trying to enjoy a nice dinner when an arsonist suddenly shows up and sets the restaurant on fire. This really happened at LouLou — a popular French bistro in NYC's trendy Chelsea neighborhood. The suspect, 39-year-old Alex Blodgett, was apprehended after torching the restaurant's outdoor dining area and was charged with 14 counts of arson, including over a dozen garbage blazes. Luckily, no one was harmed in the incident.

Soup and fly

Extra Protein

A TikTok video went viral after a man posted his experience finding an unwelcome morsel in his soup. The incident took place at an Olive Garden in an undisclosed city, and saw the guest using a spoon to scoop something that looked like a creepy crawler out of his soup bowl. The foreign object was then clearly identified as a cricket-like insect that was at least several centimeters long.


Poop Scooped

According to an anonymous account relayed to Tasting Table by a maître d' working at a high-end French restaurant in NYC, one time a "beautifully dressed" gentleman came in to dine with a party of four. Shortly after being seated, the man proceeded to pick something up from the floor. Upon closer inspection, the maître d' realized that it was a clump of feces. Shocked, she ran to get the man a few towels, but was told by his wife that he was just "trying to pick up food that fell on the floor." Meanwhile, she saw another lump of you-know-what coming out of his other pant leg.

Italian hard cheese  on the old wooden table

A Cheesy Eatery

One unfortunate London cafe was rated the "worst restaurant to eat at." According to over 250 reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor, customers have panned the Palace Restaurant Café as having the worst food and customer service in the city. A user wrote that a server there once "threw a block of cheese" at him and his friends after he sneezed, and then chased them out of the restaurant.

Leftovers on the table

Barf Cups

A BuzzFeed user wrote about a horrifying experience she had while waiting tables in a restaurant. "I used to work in a restaurant where we would leave empty glasses on the table. A woman in the restaurant didn't feel well and started to vomit, but instead of running to the bathroom, she started grabbing the empty water glasses and vomiting in them." The server then went on to describe how the woman filled up about five glasses of her vomit, then left them all on the table for the servers to clean up. And the worst part: She didn't even leave a tip.

Part of the buffet at a Chinese restaurant

Disturbing Switch-a-Roos

Another disturbing Reddit account comes from one customer who noticed that employees at a Chinese restaurant were dumping half-eaten bowls of rice back into the rice cooker and serving it to new customers. Several other users who had also worked at Chinese restaurants and buffets corroborated this story, with one user describing how he had been instructed to "rinse off uneaten fruit like grapes and melons and put them in a bowl for them to put back in the buffet."

Hispanic woman working in restaurant

Nature Calls

Sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go. A server working at an undisclosed restaurant shared her experience witnessing an intoxicated woman push her way into the restaurant's kitchen and then urinate inside it. "A drunk AF woman walked into the kitchen thinking it was the bathroom. She pushed past all of the waitstaff telling her where to go and went behind the line, almost falling into the fryer. She then proceeded to pee in the corner of the kitchen," the user told BuzzFeed.

very expensive restaurant

$300 Dish

In late 2020, a restaurant in Rome was accused of not properly listing prices and overcharging customers by hundreds of euros. A diner named Minh Ngoc Bui wrote on TripAdvisor that she was charged over $345 for a simple fish dish. "On the menu, they write 6.5 euro/ for 100 grams of mixed fish. But when we finished our meal, we had paid 476.4 euro," she said in her review. "When we complained about this, the boss explained [to] us that the plate of fish was 4.8 kg. We are sure it [was] around 2kg maximum."

Puddles of water in public restroom
Debbie Galbraith/istockphoto

A Crappy Situation

As reported on Reddit, an Applebee's in an undisclosed city was experiencing plumbing issues that resulted in the entire restaurant being flooded with feces and urine coming from the restroom's clogged pipes. Despite the sanitation and health hazards, the restaurant's manager ordered employees to simply clean up the floors, dispose of the waste, and "continue serving customers as usual."

maggots, fishing bait close up in a box

Maggot-a Be Kidding

Another anonymous BuzzFeed user shared a truly horrific experience they had while working at a frozen custard place. "This HORRENDOUS smell came out of the [milkshake machine], and we discovered it was FILLED with maggots like a rotting corpse. I had worked there for probably a year by then, and we had used the shake machine that whole time without deep-cleaning it before then. By far the most disgusting thing I ever saw."

A silverware setting of a ffork and knife on a wood table at a high end restaurant near a window

False Accusations

A couple posted on Reddit that they waited over an hour for their food and silverware, only to be ignored by their server. After their food was finally brought out, the frustrated guests stood up and grabbed silverware from another table. After asking to speak to the manager to address the poor service, the manager replied with, "No silverware? That's because you probably stole it. I saw you taking stuff from the setup table."