For those who are not familiar with it, here are some of the tacit rules on what to do when you're eating out turo-turo style.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 1. As nobody greets you at the door, you just walk straight up to the counter where the specialty of the day is written on a big menu overhead. Make you order at the friendly lady manning the counter by reciting the desired dishes or simply point want you want from the array of ready-cooked dish or dishes. That's the essence of a turo-turo (literally, point-pont) diner.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 2. If the carinderia is especially crowded but you still would want to eat there anyway, have a companion reserve a table by occupying the next empty one. If all tables happen to be full, follow the share-a-table-win-a-friend rule. Ask the occupants of a table with vacant seats if you (and your companion if any) can join in, and if the seats are not taken, they will customarily acquiesce. If there are no vacant seats but there is a batch that are almost done eating, it is perfectly okay if you stand behind their chairs and obviously wait for them to scram. If your table is secured, go back to No. 1.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 3. Follow the signs posted conspicuously at the counter.
- "Pay as You Order" means you pay for your order at the counter before you cart away your food tray (sometimes there is no tray). Still tradition has inculcated in the Filipino mentality to "Eat Now Pay Later", so depending on your choice of carinderia it's also okay to not pay for your meal until you are down to the last morsel. The counter lady's memories are sharp enough to note which table you are and won't take her eyes off you until you've paid up.
- "Self Service" means there are no waiters to serve your food, just bus boys. You get your own eating utensils, ask for tissue paper, and get straw for your drink.
- "Share a Table, Win a Friend" applies to a scenario described in No. 2.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 5. Because of the self-service rule, you are not expected to give a tip. However, there are some carinderia where you are once in a while besieged by beggars. It is not advisable to give them money or even your left over food, because once you've given one, two or more beggars will show up at your table with equally practiced hungry looks, ready to claw everything off your hands.
Eating out turo-turo style can be fun and exciting, never mind the occasional annoyances that give a new dimension to the experience. For as low as PhP50.00, you can already have a satisfying meal.
Now you know now what to do when eating out turo-turo style.