The Men’s Room Rating Scale.

won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms. This isn’t a hard call. They let you see the bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigerators and work spaces look like. Bathrooms are relatively easy to clean. Kitchens are not.
—Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Just like pepper grinders, each restaurant’s men’s room is rated on a scale of 0 to 5.

  1. A serious hazard to health, or keeping one’s dinner down.
  2. Not an obvious health hazard, but generally run down, poorly maintained, or too small.
  3. Meets minimum standards: clean enough and large enough.
  4. Slightly better than average: clean, well-maintained, and roomy.
  5. Highly above average.
  6. Equivalent to a 4, but with some special touch. (For example, the urinal at the late lamented Jean Pierre’s Upstairs, which had an iced down bottle of champagne in it. I assume the bottle was empty.)


This may seem like an example of “bathroom humor” (pardon the pun), but I don’t look at it that way.

Would you want to spend $50 on a meal, only to walk into the men’s room and be confronted with something that hasn’t been cleaned since the last Ice Age?

Further, many Austin restaurants seem to have a “size” problem. This is especially common at TexMex places: think chips, hot sauce, ice tea, ice water, margaritas, beer…and a men’s room with one toilet. Some otherwise acceptable men’s rooms in our comparison have been docked a full point because, in my judgment, they just don’t have enough capacity for the size of the restaurant. I’d say that, for all but the smallest places, two toilets (or one urinal and a stall) are the minimum acceptable.

What about women’s rooms? Well…to be honest, with one or two exceptions, everyone who’s been to a Saturday Dining Conspiracy is male: this doesn’t give us much of a chance to rate the women’s bathrooms. When women do attend a SDC, though, their opinions of the women’s rooms will be included with the men’s room rating.

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