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What is the Worst Meal You Ever Ate in a Dallas Restaurant?

catvomitsignI am asked this question many times. My taste memory is alive and not-so-well with memories of malicious meals that I not only ate, I paid good money to “eat.” So far, the worst meal I have ever experienced was served to me at gone-and-hopefully-forgotten Traci’s: scorched lobster shepherd’s pie and a spinach salad covered with old cheese and broiled. This year I’d have to say that the slices of dry pork fanned over a fistful of steamed cauliflower rolled in an ancho chile cream sauce I was served (twice) at Rathbun’s Blue Plate is now on my list along with a piece of wretchedly old bronzini at Bolla.  Et tu, Disher?

(Sign and T-shirts by Ellen Gribbs of Austin.)

146 comments on “What is the Worst Meal You Ever Ate in a Dallas Restaurant?

  1. Golden Corral in Richardson. The best part is, I didn’t even eat.

    It was Military Appreciation Night (free dinner for Vets) several years ago. I told the cashier I’m a vet. He asks to see my Military I.D. I tell him, I don’t have a Military I.D., I’m a vet. So he asks for my Retiree I.D. I explain that I am not a retiree and, as such, I do not have a Retiree I.D. Further, not all vets are retirees. Last, it’s Military Appreciation Night not Retired Military Appreciation Night so I’d like my free meal.

    No I.D., no free meal. So I leave. My
    e-mail to Golden Corral’s corp offices went unanswered.

  2. At an IHOP on a Christmas Eve – we had been iced in by the weather so had no choice of where to eat. Ordered a taco salad and when served, the meat was cold. We sent it back to be heated and they microwaved the entire salad. The excuse was that it was Christmas eve and the cook didn’t want to be there.

  3. Did not want to have the ½ hr converstation as follows:

    Lakewoody: Where do you want to eat?
    Mrs. Lakewoody: I don’t know, where do you want to eat?
    Lakewoody: I don’t care…just pick a place..
    Mrs. Lakewoody: How about X?
    Lakewoody: No, I am out on that place
    Mrs. Lakewoody: Then you pick a place…
    Lakewoody: How about X?
    Mrs. Lakewoody: No, not feeling that place?
    Lakewoody: Seriously, we are just driving in circles here, where do you want to go?
    Etc, etc, etc, etc,…

    So we went to the Fish Bone Grill at NWH and Abrams (random, I know). To summarize: My grilled fish tasted like carp caught from White Rock Lake and Mrs. Lakewoody’s meal looked and tasted downright awful. I rearranged my food on my plate to look like I had done something with it, paid our check, and ended driving through Chick-Fil-A. Their nuggets are like crack.

  4. the flautas(us?) at Mariano’s! just had ‘em Monday night and couldn’t even eat one! they were the greasiest over-sized taquito’s ever!

  5. While traveling, not only did I have to eat at Applebee’s (as it was the only place open at the time) but my cheeseburger came with a pubic hair. Those peeps in Illinois sure do it differently.

  6. MiCo Lake Highlands. The food tasted OK. I think. I was on my second Mambo Taxi when it arrived. But about 15 minutes later, I started feeling ill. By the time we made it home two hours later, and I hurled mightly – off and on for about eight hours.
    I mean, I even took the precautionary measure of drinking two more Mambo Taxi’s to kill what may have been food poisoning. Alcohol kills germs and stuff, right?

  7. I swear, that wasn’t what brought it on. It doesn’t cause the um, other end problem. And my dinner companion was also somewhat indisposed, and he did not have four mambo taxis.

  8. I was forced to eat at Applebees once while visiting the inlaws. Never, ever again.

    But my worst Dallas meals were at the old Tia’s in Arlington and Texas Land and Cattle in Plano.

    Went to Tia’s for lunch on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer. Our 15 year old punk rock waiter saw my wrist tattoo and proceeded to tell us about all of the tattoos he had planned and body piercings he had, including the one he wouldn’t be able to show us without taking his pants off. This was all before we ordered. Adios, appetite. Halfway through the meal, the lights and AC went off. After 15 minutes, the waiter came over and apologized and told us it should be fixed sometime soon. Then he said, “Yeah, this always happens here.” We never went back.

    At TXLC for a work dinner a giant bug crawled out of my boss’ salad. The waiter heard us making a fuss and whisked her plate away. Nothing was comped.

  9. Ahh the stories that could be told… A few favorites for your reading pleasure.

    Worst meal ever…ever. Ari’s Wine Bistro takes the brass ring for almost killing me. I was foolish enough to dine there on the recommendation of an associate who frequented Bodega Bar downstairs. As for the service all I will say is one server for the entire restaurant and she was also the bartender. The Caesar salad was wilted and tasted like a mix of white out and sour milk, the beef carpaccio was over a week old (confirmed while bum rushing the kitchen), and the filet I ordered was the size and consistency of a NHL regulation hockey puck. The cold mashed potatoes nor the lava flow of red wine pan sauce could mask the charred and grizzled exterior of said filet. We did not stay for desert and if it were not for the Bookers Bourbon I had with my meal I might not be here today.

    Worst service was while dining at Luqa of the failed Luqa / Petrus Dallas Roof Gardens project. Enough said.

    Just to spice things up this is the worst I have ever seen a customer treat their waiter / staff at a restaurant. It was a few years ago at Cru in the West Village and I was easily on my fourth or fifth glass of wine when a couple appeared in the doorway at 11:59PM. Cru closes their kitchen at midnight and as the couple waltzed in the kitchen staff did not look thrilled. The couple sit down at a booth and order a bottle of wine and soon thereafter they order dinner. After the chef and line cooks knocked out their meal they were out the door and not looking back. The couple took their time with their meal and summoned the manager over, who was the only other employee other than the bartender remaining in the restaurant. I overheard the couple ask for desert and very politely the manager said that the kitchen had closed but if they wanted something he would see what he could come up with. A few minutes later the manager returns with a plate of chocolate truffles, sliced fruit, grapes, almonds, and some honey on a plate. As the couple devoured the desert their check was delivered, by this time it was nearing 1:30AM. The couple quickly pays their check and bolts out the door. The bartender cleared their table and brought the check behind the bar to cash out. Almost immediately I hear, “Motherf#ck3r$!!!” coming from the bartender. He looks at me and says, “take a look at this!” He then proceeded to run out outside. The check was for over $150 and on the tip line it said, “Thanks for the suck desert EAT ME!”

  10. Upon reading my previous post I would like to apologize for the many grammatical errors and other misspellings of which I am sure are to say the least, quite annoying.

  11. Wow. What a great story.

    How about a thread for wait staff to share their nightmare customer stories? I’m amazed at what some people will do.

  12. Went to Buffalo Wild Wings on 635 & Macarthur. Hubby got the buffalo hot wings which were chicken wings and a sprinkling of hot sauce over them. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and what I got was 3 breaded chicken strips on a hoagie. That was the only meal we have ever walked out on. I think we both took 2 bites each.

    Many years ago, I went to a Whataburger in Denton at 3 a.m. on the way home from a night in Dallas. I got a cheeseburger and when I bit into it, I hit something hard. Open it up and see a metal washer (that goes around a bolt). I showed the guy behind the counter, who showed it to the cook. Cook took the washer off and slapped the bun back on and handed it back to me. Not a word was said. And then I ate it. :)

  13. Chili’s at Preston & LBJ. The last french fry at the bottom of the basket was a deep-fried cigarette filter. I can still taste it…shudder…

    And then there was the time that our waiter at Chili’s Mesquite came up to the table, introduced himself, coughed up something green on the table, wiped it off with his handy rag tucked into his belt, and walked off into the sunset.

  14. I will say this. Go to the Whataburger on Coit and Campbellish at 3 a.m., and lean out and say you want a “Big Ass Dr Pepper” as loudly and as drunkenly as possible while the driver and your friends try to stuff you back in the car, and you will get 3 32 oz DP’s and a kids meal for your trouble.

  15. Hector’s on Henderson—extremely, laughably overrated. No other restaurant in Dallas has underwhelmed me by so much.

  16. Pesco – that god awful place in West Village. Waiter recommended Chum as the most delicious dish. Oh, excuse me, I mean “Keta Salmon.” Food was poor and waiters were inexperienced. Didn’t know a Pinot Noir from a Pinot Gris.

    I also had disappointing experiences recently — and strangely — at MiCo, Taco Diner and Mercury.

  17. @wmf -

    I have a disgusting Chili’s waiter story too! We were at the Chili’s in Plano at Park and Preston and our waitress came up to the table and she was the quintessential meth-head. Her teeth were rotten, her hair was dirty and stringy, her skin was covered in open sores and her eyes were sunken in. I was so taken aback that I made up a whole story in my head that she was trying to get clean and was working there to earn money to go back to school……it was the only way I could get through the meal. I hope she is ok.

  18. I agree with the comment about Park… a few hundred comments ago. We went because all my office mates were raving. Of course, they are all 15 years younger than I am and probably loved the bar scene. The food (queso, scallop special, chicken fried steak) was cold and very salty. We declared “over-rated” and went back to our usual rotation of Nonna, Rise, and Local.

  19. So, my worst experience also might be a couple other people’s worst experience.

    My friend, her three kids (9 months, 3 years, and 8 years) and I went to El Chico’s in downtown Dallas (off that loop between 75 and 35) anyway. We are seated way in the back near some empty long tables. I order a salad. I’ve eaten a fairly large amount when I get to a very hairy section of the salad. Yeah. I show the waiter, they comp my salad and bring us dessert. (It didn’t kill the “taste” in my mouth). Now, the fun part. The kids have been playing underneath the table next to us. (Hey, I’m not their mom.)I was unaware that my friend had been worried about the 9 month old being constipated and so she had given her two bottles of prune juice. (you see where this is going…)I look over and not only has it come out of her diaper, it’s on the floor, it’s on the chairs, it’s down her legs. I gagged.

    I told my friend to wrap something around her and get out of there. I paid the bill and as I (quickly) exited, I said a silent prayer that my waiter would continue being unattentive and stay away. It was the most horrible dining experience of my life. And, I imagine a few other people.

  20. During a brief foray into the tequila business a few years back, I made a number of visits to Guadalajara. This lovely city had been occupied by the French during their Mexican adventures and their influence is strongly felt, especially in architecture, to this day.

    So when I found myself there on Bastille Day, what better idea than a French celebration. Unfortunately, the French Consulate had closed for the holiday and our crack concierge didn’t have a clue, so we went by an ad in one of those books they leave in hotel rooms.

    Burned but raw chicken (in Mexico), inedible pomme souffle. We ended up eating rather good tortilla soup and flan. Maybe the concierge knew something after all.

  21. I’ve have to throw in my two bits:
    Worst food – Applebees – makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

    Worst Service – Cyclone Annaya’s – A few weeks ago, we were there when the power went out and the kitchen may have allegedly been on fire. We had gotten our drinks and ordered appetizers. Then the power goes out and the waiter is nowhere to be found for like ten minutes. We were sitting there sweating, with the emergency lights providing mood lighting. The waiter finally comes over and will not admit that the smoke coming from the kitchen is not normal. We ask him to bring us some kind of bill if the kitchen is closed. He walks off without saying a word. Fifteen minutes pass with no sign of our waiter. I go to the bar and ask to speak with a manager. Five minutes and the manager is a no show. I gather the wife and friends and we walked out.

    Best waitress story – I was at Denny’s in Plano late one morning with the guys. We worked nights, and Grand Slams are fantastic after-work meals. An exceptionally nice waitress takes all of our orders and brings our drinks. One of my roommates, Barry, wanders in and sits with us. When the waitress sees him she hustles over, smiles, and says, “What can I get you, sir?”. Barry reaches in his pocket and dumps a handful of change on the table and says, “What can I get for $1.07?”. The waitress looks at him with a blank look and deadpans, “You can get a cup of coffee and crappy service.”, and walks away.
    I love that story…

  22. Guadalajara, now that is a great place to eat! La Fonda de San Miguel, Sin Nombre, Santo Coyote, and Sacromonte served some of the best meals I have ever had in my life!

  23. BEWARE! Las Pulpas in Guadalajara will get you a visit by the hotel physician! (and I have eaten from the street vendor stands in strange cities all over the world – one rule: trust your nose)

  24. Mattitos is the worst food ever.

    A co-worker and I went there to celebrate his impending new life in Colorado. Both of us ordered dishes that had chicken in it.

    He started to look at his food and noticed strands of blonde hair in his food. Then I noticed the same thing in our food. All the waiter did was remove our food as the other two guests sat there with their beef. The manager came back and only gave us their “special queso” instead of giving us a free dinner.

    I don’t like hair in my food, as I am sure the rest of the human race doesn’t enjoy. Seriously Mattito’s, you could’ve done better.

  25. Not in Dallas, but back home, a bunch of us ended up at a Denny’s in the middle of the night. Or early in the morning. I forget.
    Anyway, one of the guys was halfway through a Grand Slam when he found a very long, very black hair. He pushed his plate away, and being the sober, nonconfrontational type, said he was finished eating. The rest of us, being not sober, kept telling him to tell the waitress. Well, we must not have been quiet, either, because soon a waitress came up and asked us if anyone found a hair in their food.
    Well, I’m sure she was just trying to be proactive, and show some good customer service. And we probably should have been 30 years old, sober and appreciative of this. But we were not. We were 21, and we were not sober. Maybe the me part of we a lot.
    So I said, instead of something nice, “Why? Are you missing one?”

    I am pretty sure we got kicked out.

  26. Doc Martin’s in Taos. I ordered the elk. I could smell something awful as the waiter was bringing the entrees toward the table. Is elk supposed to smell like feet? I don’t think so. It tasted as bad as it smelled. We’ll never go back there.

  27. In Dallas, there are two restaurants that are living reminders of how bad dining out was in the ’70s: The Old Warsaw and St. Martin’s.

    At St. Martin’s, the waiter poured water into my wife’s half full wine glass. We were drinking a bottle of pretty good white bordeaux, if memory serves. To make up for the error, he brings a glass of their nasty, unctuous house chardonnay. And the decor: romantic, schmantic. It’s ugly, tacky, and lame.

  28. And the restaurant at the Crescent Court Hotel, one iteration ago. My wife, her boss, and others were at lunch there one day. There was a worm in someone’s salad. The waiter is summoned and removes the offending plate. In a couple minutes, back comes the waiter, along with the manager. The worm has been removed, and a small noodle put in its place. The manager explains that a soba noodle, although it might look like a worm, is in fact a noodle. Shameless!

  29. There are not yet posts about the BEST dining experiences, but I have 2 to add:

    1 – super-sour citron (lemon/lime) crepes for breakfast at the now-defunct Pasta La Vista on Greenville, which was located across from the former Whole Foods location. crepes so deliciously sour, they made your lips tingle. ordered always with thick-cut french fries that must have been fried in beef tallow. fries served with curry sauce. DELISH! my favorite Dallas breakfast circa 2002-2003. If anyone knows how to make these sour-sauce crepes, please reveal the magic.

    2 – eel from teppo. nigiri style e.g., no rice. takes a long time to be served sometimes if the restaurant is very busy, but absolutely worth it, if you are a grilled eel / eel sauce fan. teppo generally has the most authentic japanese food in Dallas, IMHO.

  30. Re: Dallas chef, i cant talk about burger street but you are allowing denny’s stories… ok

  31. When things seem eerily off, we call it a Twilight Zone meal. One memorable Zone dinner was at the Knox On the Border. It was just crummy food, service and atmosphere.

    I also cannot eat at Subway. The noxious odor turns my stomach.

  32. Amanda and FlipOff – those stories brought back some memories. Especially Amanda’s posts. Flip’s had great atomsphere and music, but the food was hit and miss. It definitely took a turn for the worse in the final days. Still, I prefer to remember the good times – the house band, the great artwork, and Merlin the Magician. Wonder what ol’ Flip is up to these days. He’s no longer a part of the Oklahoma City restaurant that bears his name…

  33. RE Flips

    Flips had a deli type case with some interesting stuff. One of their items was small green eggplants that were sort of pickled and very very salty. Tasted great.

    Anyone know what that’s called? (please don’t suggest “very very salty eggplant”)

    I assume it’s an Italian specialty but I’ve never been able to find them at places like Jimmy’s, Marty’s, Central Market.

    Also Flips was the first place in Dallas that I encountered Pesto. So maybe other than that it may have sucked.

  34. On customers with bad behavior, I spent some time in my life as a bartender at the now-defunct Spike at Mockingbird Station. The menus were very clear in what each dish and entree included. One fateful night, one of my servers waited on a table of “colorful” individuals in the main dining room. They ordered a round of drinks, and then later, their meals. Only after they finished their meals, some practically licked clean, did 1 person complain. His complaint: the scallops were wrapped in bacon, but he doesn’t eat pork. Ummm, the menu actually read “bacon-wrapped scallop skewers,” not just “scallop skewers.” He raised heck with my new server, so I intervened asking what the problem was. He recounted his whole problem with the meal, until our hilarious but no-nonsense GM walked up with the menu and showed him that it read “Bacon-wrapped scallop skewers.” Needless to say, he still raised a stink about it. We even offered a round of drinks, but he was looking for a free meal that night. Poor homeboy had to cough up $16 for his meal.

    Oh wait, guess I revealed what I meant by “colorful” eh??

  35. It’s funny, I miss Flips too. In the unlikely event that Flip was lucid enough to remember that you were on the waiting list and in the bar, you might get an excellent meal. Or you might get a complete train-wreck. But it seemed like home somehow, which is probably sad.

  36. @ Stewart and all posts Flip’s related…

    Flip’s ex got the OKC location in the divorce before Dallas even opened. I was up there about 3-4 months ago. It’s as good as you remember…worth a 6 hour drive round trip, especially if there is an exhibit going on…make a long day of it.

    Flip went through A LOT, but I heard he found Jebus, got clean, and that’s all I know. He was a wonderful person when the drugs weren’t in control.

    You know, several of the waitstaff from the the start thru the end didn’t make it (two were my friends). It was that time and that place. It was one of the best wine lists anywhere, any city, any price…32 beers on tap (the most at the time), and an impressive scotch menu (up to $3K a shot).

    God bless, and RIP Skye, Tom, et all. XO

  37. Several years ago at Lola:

    I was served my appetizer- a bowl of soup. I asked the waiter if he could give me a soup spoon- there was only a small teaspoon laid at my place. He pointed at it and said “that’s your soup spoon”. I replied that it was a teaspoon and could I please have a proper soup spoon. He left and returned with an enormous cook’s spoon from the kitchen and slammed it onto the tabletop saying “there’s your soup spoon.” He obviously found himself hilarious.

  38. This happened to my husband while he was sitting at the bar at Central 214. The bartender was using one of those long-handled spoons to stir a pitcher of drinks. He then slurped a taste of whatever he was making from the spoon, gave the waitress standing next to him a taste from the same spoon, then put it back in the pitcher to continue stirring the drink. Yuck. I refuse to eat there ever again.

  39. When we were kids, a buddy of mine worked on Saturdays at the zoo’s snow cone stand. When he arrived early in the morning, he would lift up the walkboards in the stand and scoop up the dead cockroaches. Then he’d put them in with the ice in the ice crushing machine to make some MYTEE TASTEE snow cones!!!

  40. OK, not in Dallas, but a fine restaurant in NY when a spider made it’s exit from the center of my salad. I called the waiter over, who explained with a staight face (and expectation of acceptance) that “well, of course, all our salads are organic…”