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Places With Great Food, Bad Service- Phoenix

One of the other posts got me to thinking about places which have great food, but crappy service.

Luke's Italian Beef on 16th Street and Indian School has the best Italian Beef sandwiches, but the guy at the counter is miserable. He looks like he has an ice pick in his chest, with all the ugly faces he makes. I always try and smile and say hi, but he just grimaces and looks like you're interrupting his brain surgery.

Each time I swear I won't go back, but the food it too good.

You guys have any places like this? Would you ever say something to the person with the poor service?

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  1. Orange Table in Scottsdale. Great food, cool place, but I have waited for breakfast with a hangover TOO many times and won't do it anymore. 30-40 minutes for a breakfast burrito just doesn't do it for me.

    But then you get your food and it's great...and you forgot and go back again.

    At least the staff are friendly while you wait. :)

    6 Replies
    1. re: HomeCookKirsten

      That interesting. I've never had breakfast at the Orange Table, but I sometimes have lunch there with a friend who works nearby. Every time we have lunch, the service is quick, friendly, and efficient. The food, however, I would say is good but not great. I say that because I usually order some sort of salad, and I don't care for their thick, whipped salad dressings. As for our different experiences with the speed of service, maybe some of the staff are also hungover in the morning?

      1. re: silverbear

        Great point, the servers are probably worse off then the hungover customers.

        30-40 minutes is a long damn time for a burro. Don't you guys have any drive thurs in Scottsdale with the word 'Betos' on the end of the name?

        1. re: Max Fischer

          I don't live in Scottsdale, so I can't say for sure. Nevertheless, the "betos" phenomenon seems to be almost everywhere in the Phoenix area. I've never tried any of them, though. I'd be more more inclined to head to the nearest Chipotle when in need of fast Mexican food.

          Back to your original subject, I think there are two types of bad service:

          1) Service that is slow, inefficient, or rude. I can overlook this a few times because anyone can have a bad day. It has to be really egregious or repeated on many occasions before I'd put the restaurant on my "do not visit" list.

          2) Policies that create so much hassle that a restaurant is no longer worth visiting. These include no-reservations policies, long waits for tables, insufficient parking, and no-substitutions policies. I can overlook any one of these, but if two or more are combined, the restaurant is no longer worth the effort. I can definitely think of some celebrated local establishments that I no longer visit because the owners want customers to do business on their terms rather than vice-versa.

          1. re: silverbear

            I can definitely think of one that YOU are definitely thinking of...

            which reminds me, i need to call in to make some reservations (for 6 of course) for a post spring training dinner.

            1. re: silverbear

              I find a no reservations policy, particularly for a tiny restuarant, to be a very equalizing - FIRST COME FIRST SERVED.

              I know that I'm going to be waiting in line with the likes of the governor and Steve Nash. If a restaurant has a reservation policy it lends itself to favoritism and long, lingering dinners. If you see a line of people waiting to grab one of the ten tables, you tend to eat and go, which is courteous to those waiting.

              I don't mind it.
              :)

            2. re: Max Fischer

              Los Betos Mexican Food, 3001 N Hayden Rd Scottsdale, AZ

              The breakfast burritos don't suck, but, some of the other stuff, does.

        2. Too funny re: the staff @ Orange Table. My new plan is Los Betos on Hayden.

          I agree with Silverbear, there are different types of bad service.

          Excessive jumping through hoops and LONG waits and no credit card machine and no sharing entrees and other things like that are more likely to stop me from going back somewhere.

          A one-time rude person or slowish service/wrong food is just that, a one-time deal and is easily fixable on the next visit.

          1. I've been met with deep sighs when I've walked into Pat's Pizza Plus, especially from the extremely large guy that hangs out behind the counter.

            "Please, don't get up, I'll just shout out my order so that the guys in the kitchen can hear what I want", is what I've felt like saying.

            Chompies. Even the owner, Lovey is it?, she has a rather blase attitude towards customers when she's working the register. That seems to trickle down to the wait and counter staff.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mamamia

              GREAT point about Chompies, they really don't give a crap. I just don't understand that attitude. It must be that they think they have no competition.

              1. re: Max Fischer

                I'm not impressed with this place. The bagels suck and so does their rugelach.

              2. re: mamamia

                Funny, I was thinking Chompies when this topic came up. Their counter service really stinks. Never a smile, or a thank you, or basically any sign of courtesy.

                I like their bagels, and we buy a lot of them (when we bring in to the office, etc.).

                I find pretty good service in the restaurant usually.

                It is my experience, that no matter how good your food is, bad service will catch up with you eventually. Customers get tired of supporting establishments that don't seem to value their loyalty (and of course the opposite is true - I will forgive a lot of mistakes if the establishment makes an effort to show that they appreciate me coming in).

              3. Drift - the Tiki bar in Scottsdale.

                Well, then again, I'm not sure if the food is any good. Went with a big group of people for a b-day and everyone was served but me and one other person. Even after an hour of enquiries to our server, she claimed to have no idea what the kitchen was doing. I asked for a manager and explained to this well trained expert that we never got our food and now had to leave for another event.

                In front of 15 or so people who just dropped major $S$, he offered to rectify the situation by making sure we weren't charged for the missing food. Gee, thanks for that magnanimous offer. How could we refuse? No apology. No offering his card/number and a promise to make it up to us on a future visit. It's bad enough to send people out the door hungry. It's even worse when you send them out with seemingly no interest in earning back their business.

                But hey - that's what they got. No future business from us.

                3 Replies
                1. re: tastyjon

                  Holy crap, he told you that you didn't need to pay for something you never got? Wow, how can they afford such gestures of kindness? That sort of rash giving will put them out of business! Oh wait, poor service and not giving a crap will put them out of business too...

                  Did you ever follow-up with the GM, or whomever is at the top of the Totem Pole? They should know what is happening.

                  1. re: Max Fischer

                    They suffer from a decent location and most patrons are there for the scene and cocktails. It's not a culinary destination and that's reflected in many similar reviews on other boards - as I've since found.

                    1. re: tastyjon

                      Thanks for the insight, it's hard to know the scoop, when you haven't been to a place that is mentioned, so I appreciate inside knowledge. I must admit a bias I have regarding Scottsdale, often I find it too pretentious. I know this isn't really fair, but my experiences have led to that belief, so I try to avoid Scottsdale whenever possible.

                2. Pita Jungle at Scottsdale Rd and Shea has fit this category for us many times. We love the hummus there, but the staff has been amazingly incompetant on numerous occasions. Three tries and 45 minutes to get a simple Coke. A waiter who completely forgot that he hadn't taken our order. Our order being sent to the table behind us. The list goes on. Too bad the other locales are so far away. Luckily we've found a place with better hummus (Shish Kebob House in Glendale) and service that doesn't make you go there just to see how bad they can be.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Firenza00

                    I rarely go to the Scottsdale Pita Jungle, due to various bad experiences. But, I go to the other locations, often, and always seem to get very good, pleasant service (touch wood).

                    I really enjoyed the Homous at the Persian Room in N. Scottsdale. http://www.persianroom.com

                  2. I went to Houston's last night, and usually that place is spot-on. I don't usually go to chains, but Houston's is consistently good, with great service.

                    Last night, this server was a train wreck. It took forever to get our drinks, and then we never saw her again. We had to find her to ask for another round of cocktails. When our dinner arrived (sort-of) she walked right by our table, like she forgot who ordered it. Very weird. Just really poor service. When she brought our bill, I must have taken too long to sign the receipt, she came by and took the pen and said it was her only one, and she needed it for another table. Wtf?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Max Fischer

                      We go to Houston's a lot (what can I say? I love the Hickory Burger) and we usually have great service. We had one train wreck like you had at the Scottsdale location. Messed up the order, seemed stoned, and mixed up the bills with our table and one nearby, so we had their credit card and they had ours. That is the worst we had there. On another occasion, a waitress remembered us from a visit months before, right down to where we sat and what we ordered. Go figure.

                    2. wild thaiger...i know, not traditional thai food, but they aren't trying to be...anywhoo - forget about trying to make a deadline afterwards, you'll never make it...it takes forever to get your food. i mean forever..the service is slow, and never stellar, no matter who your server is.. however, i like their food and i can practically walk there so its alright..but if you have a movie or event after? forget it...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: winedubar

                        Speaking of marginal service in Thai restaurants, I've got to add Thai Lahna on Indian School Road to the list. The food is excellent and cheap; that's why I keep going. Still, the service is erratic and the staff often overwhelmed. During busy times, I've found the only way to order, get drink refills, get the check, etc. is to flag down a server in a very obvious manner every time I need something. If you wait for the niceties of having the server approach your table at the appropriate time, you may never go home. Everyone there is nice, but there just aren't anough people on duty when most needed.

                      2. Just saw this and thought I would share my .02 cents. I have never had a problem with Chompie's. Both the counter and wait staff have all been extremely professional and actually very friendly especially to my kids.

                        I also have always had good service at Pat's but by now they know me pretty well--I or my wife are in their at least once a week. That being said I know several people who refuse to eat there because of the attitude of the staff.

                        Same thing for Pita Jungle. We go pretty often and have never had a problem.

                        The one place I have had consistent problems is Eden's Grill. The food is out of this world but they have screwed up our take out order several times and the service in the restaraunt has never been especially good either.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: avandelay

                          Thanks for your post.

                          I had breakfast at the Chompie's in Tempe yesterday, and I also had great service. They were super-busy, but we were seated within ten minutes, and served right away. Good food, good prices, good service, it was a good experience. I suppose every place has the possibility of having an off day, I know I have off days more than I would like.

                          It's too bad there isn't an easy way to tell restaurant employees that they are coming off like rude jackasses sometimes..

                          1. re: avandelay

                            I tried Eden's Grill for the first time in late December. The food was tasty, but only one person was serving all of the tables. He appeared to be the owner. He was pleasant and helpful, but it did seem like the restaurant needed to have at least one additional server on duty. Word is getting out about Eden's Grill, and additional staff may be in order.

                          2. Oh Silverbear - forgot about Thai Lahna - I once had a terrifying incident with a business lunch and a very hot curry that resulted in my actually entering the drink/prep area and pouring myself some more iced tea after multiple, purposeful requests for more beverages.

                            Not pretty.

                            So...I now go there when I am not in a hurry and usually bring my own water bottle as backup.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                              Others will disagree because the service CAN be charming, but Cyclo, with the hit-or-miss Justina fits the mode. ... And Los Dos Molinos on Central Avenue can do everything wrong, but send out a nice plate that makes me want to forgive them for all of their shortcomings.

                            2. I was SO bummed yesterday. We were at Golden Buddha which as you all know, I am normally such a fan of.

                              We were seated in the larger room, which is divided into three sections, private rooms, the main area, and this strip of tables inbetween with walkways on either side. We were seated there, along the walkway that divided the room in half . (diagram attached. just joking)

                              For whatever reason, the traffic patterns they go in seem to completely ignore people along that pathway. We frustratingly (and you know when you go for dimsum and you can't wait for the carts to come and you can smell them, and are just ready to start stuffing dumplings down your throat?) watched many carts skip right past us. Another table complained, and this still had no effect. We started utilizing our NY taxi hailing skills to redirect carts our way, but that's kinda a bummer. Eventually we just started walking over to the carts with our slip to grab stuff ourselves.

                              AND, though it was Sunday at noon (prime dimsum catching time) there were only three carts worth of stuff they kept sending around. No spring rolls, no chinese greens, lots of usual stuff was missing.

                              Flip side, our server was very attentive, we always had water.

                              But we left really unamused and feeling underserved.

                              1. I forgot about Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe on C'back/9th Street. There was ONE server when I was there on a busy afternoon. I think I read here that others have experienced the one server syndrome on separate occasions.
                                Servers don't make a lot of moey from wages...why not have enough on staff? It's not as if it costs the owner a lot of money to have more. I'm sure the combination of quicker turning tables and appreciative customers coming back for more would more than make up for the additional costs.

                                1. Indian Delhi Palace on McDowell. I've been eating here for years and the little server guy...older guy that is very short, is the worst server ever and I always seem to get him.
                                  Have to beg for iced tea refills. I always order the garlic naan, right away because they have to make it fresh, but sometimes I don't get it until I'm almost done with my food. Have to flag him down to take our empty plates...stuff like that.
                                  He seems so freakin' clueless...I don't get it. I waited tables for years and was very aware of what my tables were doing, what they ordered and how long ago they ordered it.
                                  I just don't get it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tattud_gurl

                                    I didn't have a bad experience there, but I do remember that they wouldn't allow me to order my meal at the highest spice level. He just chuckled at me.

                                  2. How about getting a young attentive wait person that is constantly trying to upsell you to increase the bill.Although I very seldom set foot in one of the Texas style chains like Carraba's etc. I always get the hard sell and am constantly saying "no thanks" to the waiter.I think that's one of the reasons I seldom set foot in one.( just one of many reasons !!!)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: twodogs

                                      Great point! I ordered a beer at El Paso Barbecue and the server said, 'Would you like the 300oz?" Okay, so maybe it wasn't that big, but it was ridiculous. I think they are required to try and up-sell, otherwise if they get a mystery shopper, they get dinged. Oh, and they also need 22 pieces of flair.

                                    2. Just an fyi about El Paso BBQ.....I used to work there and there are certain things they HAVE to say because they do get 'shopped'. If you get shopped and don't pass, you get fired.
                                      Personally, I think it sucks because I know that I hate when my server tries to upsell with me, but unfortunately, they have to do it.
                                      IE: "Look, if I wanted the freakin' bloomin' onion, I would have ordered it!" Right?
                                      Probably the way it is with other chains, I'm guessing

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: tattud_gurl

                                        Thanks, that is what I thought. Too bad when companies have to force employees to do certain things. It is similar to what Safeway forces the cashiers to do when you check out. They HAVE to tell you thanks, Mr./Mrs. so and so. It sucks, as I have a very ethnic last name that is very hard to say.

                                      2. As much as I love Luke's italian beef, I agree that the service is dismal. Golden Buddha - even worse, a group of 3 I was with were forced to leave after our server took 20 mins for drinks and our entrees took over an hour (even their take-out is bad).

                                        Another that comes to mind is Roaring Fork. Their service has always been a little slow in my opinion, and last time I was there, I was spilled on right as I sat down. After a round of "comp'd" drinks and more slow service, the drinks were on the bill! Apparently the offer of free dry cleaning for my water "stain" on my pants was all they wanted to pay.