Pillbox

Pittsburgh's Worst Restaurants

Restaurant reviews are notoriously kind. But after spending months telling you where to eat in Pittsburgh, I want to let you know where you should not eat. Let me clarify, though: I only focused on restaurants that claim to be good and are not. At places like the ?O? and Ritters Diner, there are no claims that the food tastes good. The restaurants below are more like carnival rides; at first, they seem appealing. But just because your friends are going doesn?t mean you?re just going to have less money in your pocket afterwards: you?ll also have an upset stomach.

India Garden
India Garden has, by far, the worst waiters in all of Pittsburgh. The service here is truly atrocious. Unlike other ethnic restaurants where the menu is enthusiastically explained, India Garden workers just don?t care. I have dined there with a group of Indians who tried in vain to engage with the waiters in Hindi when asking about specific dishes. I have also been there with Americans who meekly asked the waiters the differences between one dish and another ? to no response. In fact, the waiters did not respond to either group and gave everyone the same rude treatment. At least they don?t discriminate.

The menu itself is characteristic of low-end Indian restaurants, featuring the same standard dishes as Taste of India and Indian Oven. Most of their vegetable dishes are so overcooked that they have the consistency of mush. India Garden draws a large half-priced food crowd since it was the only Indian food that was half-priced for a while. However, last week I discovered the newly opened restaurant, Bombay Palace, on nearby Semple Street. Not only is the food significantly better than India Garden, but their half-price starts at 9:30 pm.

Joe Mama?s
Joe Mama?s is a mediocre restaurant at best. I like to think of it as a crappier version of the Olive Garden. It?s like they took something bad, and made it worse. If you want real Italian food, try Girasole in Shadyside. If you want half-priced food, the pasta selections at Fuel and Fuddle are much better than those offered at Joe Mama?s. Experience has led me to believe that even a dish like spaghetti is better at Eat ?n Park than at Joe Mama?s.

The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is a horrible restaurant in ways too numerous to count. I can guarantee you that you will have to wait an unreasonably long time to be seated, regardless of when you go. Because the restaurant doesn?t take reservations, you have no choice but to wait for up to two hours to be seated.

The atmosphere inside is that of a giant eating warehouse. There are no intimate tables and no secluded booths where you can enjoy a meal in peace. This is a restaurant dreamt up for suburbanites who like everything big, bland, and loud. In fact, most of the diners seemed to have flocked to the Cheesecake Factory from outside of Pittsburgh.

As for the food: Everything on the menu is good, but nothing is spectacular. Furthermore, one entree can feed a family of four. No joke, I have been there with my family and the four of us ordered one appetizer, one entr?e, and one dessert. The noise level of the restaurant, with screaming kids and noisy families, makes you feel like you are back in a summer camp mess hall. Better food can be had elsewhere in the South Side.

Zyng
I?ve said it before and I will say it again, Zyng is a horrible mutation of pan-Asian food. If you want real Asian food, there are already Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants in Squirrel Hill that are just as cheap and much tastier. Don?t be fooled by Zyng?s glossy exterior: The food is a bland American take on pan-Asian.

The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot in Station Square may initially seem appealing, as it is a fondue-themed restaurant. Do not be tempted. On the night I dined there, the restaurant was filled with people on dates who had never eaten there before: a dangerous sign. Upon being seated, I found the prices to be astronomical for the type of food offered. To eat a full meal at the Melting Pot, be prepared to spend around $40?50 per person.

Furthermore, the wait staff is overly insistent. My waiter, a Pitt student, proceeded to talk to my table for 30 minutes about how he was getting into real estate investments. He then continued with his hard sell of the deluxe dinner package, around $65 per person ? which we repeatedly declined. Upscale romantic restaurants in Pittsburgh are plentiful. The next time you are looking for a good date restaurant, try one of the South Side?s other establishments like Le Pommier: a fraction of the price for exponentially better food.

Cozumel
I only go to Cozumel for drinks, but every time I go I am shocked at the number of people actually eating there. Cozumel claims to be authentic Mexican food. I have to disagree. Refried beans that come out of a can and lots of cheese do not make food Mexican. Not only is the cost high and the portion size small, but the food looks and tastes like someone bought it cheap from Taco Bell and rearranged it on a plate.