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Worst Restaurant in the Anaheim Resort: Five Contenders

nobakerssquare.JPG
Original image: heidigoseek @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Ding-dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead...
The Baker's Square on Harbor Blvd. in Garden Grove closed at some point. I'm not sure when, but I only noticed it a few weeks ago when we had friends staying in the area and I went to go warn them off.

I'm sure Fast Food Maven reported on it at some point, amongst the never-ending lists of restaurants bowing to the inevitable in this shaky economy, but either I didn't see it or it simply didn't register until recently.

Baker's Square, while it was open, held the unenviable position of Worst Restaurant In the Anaheim Resort while it was open. It is the only place I have ever been to where not a single dish I ever had was up to snuff. Not only was it not up to snuff by my (admittedly snobby) standards, it wasn't even up to snuff by the standards of other Baker's Square restaurants in the U.S. Add to this service that would have had to try hard to be disinterested, and it was a formula for frustration and, as a proud Anaheimer, shame.

Well, now that it's gone, we need to crown a new Worst Restaurant. While there are some surprisingly awesome finds in the area, there are also a host of execrable restaurants who compound their sins against food by treating everyone who walks in like they've got a giant target painted on them.

I'm not going to crown a winner. I'm going to offer thoughts, and chime in with your own thoughts, dear readers. I'm talking here about restaurants that are off the Disney property and within either the Anaheim Resort or Garden Grove's me-too International West district.

1. IHOP
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Flickr user lavocado@sbcglobal.net

I remember when IHOP used to be about normal breakfast. It was about plates of pancakes, albeit pancakes with the blue-grey pitchers of artificially flavored high-fructose corn syrup, and normal platters with eggs and breakfast meat, potatoes and toast. Then they started amping up the sugar content so that the bulk of the menu is sticky, high-calorie nonsense. There are two in the district; the one directly across the street from the pedestrian entrance to Disneyland combines these culinary depredations with limited, difficult parking, slow service and menu prices much, much higher than even its sister three blocks south.

2. Starbucks Coffee
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I'm not on a rant against Big Green here; it's the location on Harbor Boulevard and Ball Road that earns my specific ire. That it's full of visitors to Anaheim who may not know the Starbucks jargon is to be expected, but anything more complex than a cup of (overpriced) drip coffee has a higher-than-normal risk of error.

3. Joe's Crab Shack
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Flickr user Javier Vidal

Worst. Service. Ever. Joe's has the distinction of being the only place in the Anaheim Resort I've had to walk into the kitchen to get service. I've never had a meal at Joe's take less than 90 minutes. The food is nothing special, and to be treated so shabbily by the waitstaff just makes it all the more unlikely I'll ever return.

4. Cheesecake Factory
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Flickr user Al_HikesAZ

The huge menu at this enormous restaurant in the dreary Anaheim GardenWalk brings the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" to mind. The food is (to use Yelp-style review terminology) "just okay", meaning that it all tastes slightly the same. There are no standout dishes; the cheesecakes are reasonably good but shockingly expensive. The reason for the inclusion on the list is the mindbending wait for a table and a noise level that could cause hearing loss. Two hours on a weekend in summer is not unheard of; in that time you could drive to San Diego.

5. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
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Flickr user prayitno

For the love of all that's delicious, why does this place exist? It's usuriously expensive, the eponymous dish is drastically overcooked in every presentation, and even tourists look at the décor and run toward something less hokey. The menu has that air of breathless excitement with high-energy references to a movie that came out in 1994. (To heighten the sense of removal from that date, let me point out that the #1 song that year was "The Sign", by Ace of Base, and it was on March 1 of that year that the world was graced with the existence of Justin Bieber.) Why has it survived? Why does it keep expanding?

Restaurateurs on this list: shape up and stop treating visitors to our city like sheep to be fleeced while they're in the pen, and maybe you won't be on the next iteration of this list.

Restaurateurs not on this list: don't get cocky!

Readers: I'm sure I've just scratched the surface; the list could be interminable. Let the snark flow!







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