How to Survive Ghetto Grub in 5 Easy StepsOctober 20, 2014
For the thrifty and brave, trying out the neighborhood carinderia increases either the chances of finding a ghetto grub-worthy dish, or a long time on the toilet. But if you know what to look out for, you’ll zero in on where to get a cheap, satisfying, even amazing, meal without putting your health at risk.
1. Follow the Crowd
More than the need to feed, eateries depend on loyal patronage and word of mouth to keep customers coming in, and coming back. A crowd is a sure sign of people trusting that particular spot with their stomachs.
2. Check your Surroundings
Steer clear of areas situated near open sewage and waste areas. If it’s an open space, take a minute or two to check if the kitchen looks clean, and how their staff cleans up and disposes of leftovers and trash.
3. Inspect the Food
If they offer dishes made to order, favor those instead. The food in covered dishes or display cases should be fine as long as it looks and smells right to you. If you’re still unsure, a carinderia is judged by how they do fried and grilled food such as fried chicken, liempo, and porkchop. These are not only favorites among their customers, but they are arguably the safest dishes as they’re cooked in high heat.
4. Mind the Details
Check the plate for spots or signs of grease left from hurried washing. Also mind the utensils, even the straws. There are carinderias that serve their utensils in steel glasses with hot water, but if the water isn’t hot, you’re better off asking for new utensils to avoid bacterial infection. Also check to make sure the straw is the size it’s supposed to be, as less honest owners are known to cut out used parts of straws to throw, then recycling the rest.
5. Ask for Bottled Water
From personal experience, most of the time it wasn’t the food that got me down, but the water. While a water dispenser is reassuring, you can’t really be too sure until you actually see them change it. If you have a sensitive stomach, stick to canned or bottled drinks.