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...And the worst restaurant in Chicago is....

Hands down, the Fiddlehead Cafe on Lincoln Ave. We waited 2O MINUTES for bread and drinks. The food was mediocre at best, more accurately described as bland and unexciting. Don't waste your time at this overpriced, poorly serviced dud with no valet parking in a very difficult-parking neighborhood.

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  1. Italian Village is pretty close...

    Ceasar's Mexican...

    it's a long list...

    1. Well, I don't suppose the Peninsula Hotel's "Lobby" is the worst restaurant in town, but if you want to spend $300 for a Sunday brunch where the buffet is broken down an hour before the end of service; where most of the food in chafing dishes is stone cold even before then; and where you have to whistle down the waiter to request not only coffee but a glass of water---definitely go there and see what you think.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Querencia

        I totally disagree, based on my experience. I have been to the Lobby Restaurant in the Peninsula for dinner on three separate occasions, and each time, it has been OUTSTANDING. The food has been delicious and creative, the service has been efficient and friendly (memorably so, one of the best service experiences I have had), and the atmosphere is elegant, with its spacious room, high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows along one side. They had an entree of pan-sauteed skate wing, and it was simply wonderful. I have not been there for brunch, but my experience with dinner on three different occasions is exactly the opposite of yours. I highly recommend it. (Especially later on Friday and Saturday evenings, when they offer the pricey but fantastic all-you-can-eat chocolate dessert buffet.)


      2. Querencia posted about brunch. You're posting about dinner. Not surprising that you'd have a completely different experience.

        1. Isn't this what Metromix is for? Lousy service does not make the worst restaurant in Chicago. Neither does a lack of valet parking.

          1 Reply
          1. Gibson's is mine. I know, I know I will get some heat for this. But this was the worst steak I have ever had. I took the suggestion of the waiter and got a peppercorn crust on my filet. It was so thick and barely crushed that there were whole peppercorns attached, which did nothing to enhance the taste of the steak, it completely masked it.

            I gave a sample to 2 of my dinner companions who agreed that this was a huge mistake and barely ediable. The side dishes, martinis and portions were impressive and well prepared, but still left me with a "meh" feeling about the place.

            We waited over an hour with reservations, were overcharged for a full carrot cake that we didn't order and were really underwhelmed. We are Chicagoians who just never had the desire to go there, perhaps always thought it was too touristy. But our friends from NY really wanted to go, so we did.

            My friends from NY were also pretty unimpressed. They were looking forward to going to the famous Gibsons and didn't think that this lived up to it reputation.

            5 Replies
            1. re: CorinneM1

              I agree with you, Gibsons is close to the bottom of my list.

              I was unimpressed by Gibsons, but not surprised by the below average meal I had there. When a place is lauded over more often for "the people watching", and the "scene" as its best features it does not bode to well for the food.

              When I went the service was poor, we had a waiter who knew very little about the cuts of meat, and was too busy to provide good service, and the food was not worth the price. I had a filet, and it was ok, but nowhere near the service, and food I have had at Mortons, and some of the other steak houses in Chicago

              1. re: CorinneM1

                Not my "worst", but Gibson's is pretty terrible.

                Anyplace that consistently makes people wait a half hour or more past their reservation time, isn't worth going to. The fact that the steaks are average and don't stack up to other steakhouses in the city, make it even less appealing.

                As far as the scene and people watching, most diners in that area (the viagra triangle) are pretty low on my list of people enamoring enough to want to hang out and watch.

                1. re: CorinneM1

                  I, friends and family, love and adore Gibson's...have dined there many, many times and never had a steak that was not cooked to perfection, and top notch service. I would have sent the peppercorn steak back, and asked for a different one, and I think they gladly would have accommodated you.

                  1. re: CorinneM1

                    Can't give Gibson's dsteak a great, but no where near the bottom either. I'd give it a 6 on a 1 to 10 scale. My waiter was a 10 though. My steak was not exactly as I wanted and he wisked it away to fix. And he took away the onion rings so I would have hot rings with my redelivered steak. I'd go back if needed but would never go back to Gene and Georgetti's. That was way worse IMHO.

                    1. re: CorinneM1

                      I agree - I can get a better steak and great loaded potao at outback

                    2. I don't get it. If Gibson's is so bad, why does it attract such crowds that people have to wait for 30 minutes or more past their reservation time?

                      A dinner at Gibson's is not inexpensive, to say the least. Why pay a lot of money to be treated so poorly?

                      By the way, I've never been to Gibson's. I'm simply curious as to why people continue to flock to Gibson's considering the comments above.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: redchile

                        for myself,

                        I really like beef, and steak in general so I have now tried many of the "top" steak spots in town.

                        I wanted to try Gibsons because of some of the things I had heard about it, and in my attempt to try the "top" steak spots in the city my sampling would have been incomplete without a visit to Gibsons.

                        One shot was all they get from me as I was unimpressed. Simple as that,

                        maybe they get alot of out of towners/tourists get directed to go there accounting for the crowds and wait time..?

                        1. re: swsidejim

                          Wow...People may have legitimate complaints about Gibson's food and service, but it is far from the worst restaurant in town.

                          Personally, I've never had a bad meal at Gibson's and I've dined there, and at Hugo's -- where I consistently have ordered Gibson's steaks and sides such as the double-baked potato -- dozens of times. The most irritating thing about Gibson's probably is the wait and the crowd factor, but you're going to run into that at any popular restaurant (particularly on the weekend). In my experience, the food always makes the wait worthwhile.

                          As for the peppercorn-crusted steak issue -- I've never seen this item pushed at Gibson's, but the peppercorn filets that I have seen typically DO have whole, virtually uncrushed peppercorns. I agree, though, with another poster who stated that you could've sent it back with little, if any, resistance from your server. I've sent steaks back for being undercooked, and the waitstaff always is very accomodating.

                          1. re: RMA

                            I was agreeing with some points on CorrinneM1( who stated it was the worst in the city).. in my responses, and have given my impressions of a visit there.

                            I never stated it was the overall worst in Chicago, but I did say it is near the bottom of my list for places I have dined, and most likely a place I will not return to. Life is too short..

                            I did not order a peppercorn crusted filet, the other poster did. I just mentioned the service, and food was not up to some of the other steak spots I like.

                            Also I made a comment that some tout the "people watching", and "scene" at Gibsons more often times than mentioning the food. A red flag in my book, I go out to eat, not to see people, or be seen.

                            different strokes for different folks. a thread like this will undoubtedly cause debate, which is good in my eyes.

                            1. re: swsidejim

                              Swsidejim, I meant to respond to the anti-Gibson's string of posts in general, and not specifically attack you or your posts. At any rate, I agree that Gibson's definitely is as much about the scene as the food (I've made this comment myself in past posts)...Some people, myself included, find this aspect of Gibson's to be annoying (though I've always felt that the food outweighs the annoyance factor).

                              1. re: RMA

                                all good, I have responded in error myself,

                                have a good night

                        2. re: redchile

                          >> By the way, I've never been to Gibson's. I'm simply curious as to why people continue to flock to Gibson's considering the comments above. <<

                          I think the simple answer is that the negative comments posted in this topic are not representative of most Gibson's customers, who like the place and keep returning. I've enjoyed Gibson's whenever I've gone there, and I think their steaks are very good. Most people I know like Gibson's, too, but (obviously) a few others disagree. Many people say that Gibson's is the best in Chicago, but plenty of others say that about every one of the twenty or so steakhouses mentioned in that other "best Chicago steakhouse" topic on Chowhound. And just like there are a few people who don't like Gibson's, I've encountered a few others who don't like Saloon, and a few others who don't like Gene and Georgetti's, and David Burke's, and Morton's, and detractors for just about every other highly-regarded steakhouse in town.

                          I'm not saying that everybody likes Gibson's, but a lot of people do, and a lot more do than don't. Remember, there's a built-in bias in a topic called "the worst restaurant": only people who had a bad experience at a restaurant are likely to open the topic and post there (furthermore, such a title probably attracts people who didn't like a restaurant that many other people recommend). If you instead look at topics about Gibson's (rather than about restaurants that people didn't like), you're likely to get plenty of favorable responses about it, as in these topics:


                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            People that have complaints are always more likely to make comments.

                            1. re: scootster

                              True. Old restaurant manager's saying: "If they're happy, they might come back; if they are not happy they tell ten friends."
                              Personally; if I love a place I won't tell anyone: I hate to walk in and find them at my favorire table. I like, however, to recommend places I hate to people I don't like--But it seems to be a waste of time. Example: recently; on two seperate occassions, people recommended the Canton Tea Garden in Park Ridge, so we went there last week. Second-worst Chinese food I've had in 60 years, 25 countries...but it's very cheap; maybe that's why these people think it's wonderful?...Maybe because they grew up on tasteless F.F. carryout slop?... Maybe karma is catchuing up with me?... Maybe restaurants are simply getting worse overall.
                              Of the last 24 we've been to we will absolutely not return to twenty. They have no chefs or cooks; only heatr-uppers--All they know how to do is charge money.
                              And the worst:? I've tried to forget but think it's called Hoe Kow, on Sheridan Road.
                              In the upper stratta, price wise, I'd recommend a pass on The Big Bowl (Noisy place, laughable Thai.) P. F. Chang's: nice places, nice service but heavily Americanized, overpriced glorified fast-food. .

                        3. I'm surprised that nobody's said Gene & Georgetti. The steaks are good but not great. They treat you like garbage if you're not a regular, and the winelist is almost a parody of factory-produced, supermarket wines marked up 3X over retail.

                          At least at Gibson's, one can get an interesting wine that's not made in 100K case lots to drink while waiting for their table.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Sam Harmon

                            Agree 100% re Gene & Georgetti. Service is as abd\rude as old Berghoff. (There's a place I don't miss.)
                            I've never had anything bad at Gale Street but nearly always have the prime rib--Never tried the barbeque...have had too much awful barbeque in Chicago so won't order it anymore (unless I've tasted it first.) . I used to like Twin Anchors; ` wonder if it's still good? haven't been there in years.

                          2. The Gale Street Inn is exceptionally lousy for all the great reviews it gets. The BBQ is just about the worst I've ever had (boiled meat with off-the-shelf sauce). The sides taste like cafeteria food.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rubinow

                              I have only been there once, but the BBQ brisket was tremendous--the sauce was smoky and sweet the meat was fork tender.

                              1. re: rubinow

                                they are not what they once were

                              2. G and G's is pretty bad. Rude waiters offering no help to questions. Can't really speak to the quality of the steaks, our whole group of 10 just couldn't get over or past the terrible service. Have to also agree that Gale St. Inn was less than impressive and we had a 45 minute wait for a table in a bar so thick with smoke that I'm sure that I now have cancer.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: hoppy2468

                                  Perhaps your experience with Gale Street Inn was a while ago? The smoky bar is a thing of the past, if you are referring to the Chicago location of Gale Street Inn. A clean indoor air ordinance was passed in Chicago in 2005 and went into effect a year ago. There is a provision allowing it until July 2008 in bar-restaurants where over 65 percent of the revenue comes from alcohol sales, but that usually only affects establishments that are mostly bars rather than restaurants, which probably does not describe Gale Street Inn.

                                  Gale Street Inn has a second location in north suburban Mundelein that is unaffected by the Chicago ordinance.

                                  Many municipalities in Illinois, including many Chicago suburbs (but not Mundelein, AFAIK), have passed similar legislation.

                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                    Just out curiosity, nsxtasy, what do you consider to be the worst restaurant in Chicago?

                                    1. re: cheapertrick

                                      It depends on how you define "worst". If you look through the posts above, you'll see that some people are reporting poor service experiences, while others are reporting bad food. The worst service experience I've had was at Crofton on Wells, where the staff was downright *abusive* to our party, although the food was quite good. The worst food I've had in the past year in a Chicago-area restaurant was a dinner at Noyes Street Cafe in Evanston.

                                  2. re: hoppy2468

                                    Haven't been to G&G's for years now but one of my fond memories was with a large group going there in the dead of winter. At that time, they had a central, unattended coat area. When one of the guys went to get his coat after the meal (which was pretty good as I recall) it was gone. We found a manager and his advice was to "find one that looks like yours and go with it". Since that day, I have NEVER left anything of value in coat pockets for fear that it could happen to me!

                                  3. If the Italian Village is the same one that I remember from about 1953, it has been bad for a long time. And it is great that I, a California resident and long time visitor to Chicago, could have eaten and agree with the analysis of Gene and Georgetti and Gale Street Inn.

                                    1. With re: Italian Village; it has been noted on this board before, but is worth noting again: there are 3 separate restauarants (with 3 separate kitchens) at the Italian Village: "La Cantina", "Vivere", and "The Village". Although I would certainly not agree that "The Village" is one of Chicago's worst restauarants, "Vivere" is, in my opinion, one of Chicago's very best. "Vivere" has excellent food, great service, and one of the best wine-lists....period (which all 3 restaurants share).


                                      1. Wow, I would have to *totally* disagree about Fiddlehead Cafe. We live in the neighborhood and can walk there, so I can't speak about the lack of valet, but we had a great meal there last Friday.

                                        I wouldn't say it was the best meal I've ever had by any stretch, but it is NOWHERE NEAR the worst.

                                        My husband and I each had a wine tasting flight, which was quite fun and a great way to find something we'd really enjoy with our meal. The bread came out fast and was hot and fresh with soft butter (a big plus in my book). Our waitress was knowledgeable and attentive, and even one of the partners came to check on us more than once.

                                        My husband had the trout which he said was one of the best pieces of fish he'd ever had. I can't remember what he had as his first course but I know he enjoyed it. My first course was a lovely meyer lemon and blood orange salad with mizuna, I loved it. Then I had a special that night, which was a steak with a mushroom and potato gratin. The steak was nicely cooked and tasty, but the real star for me was the gratin. I could've just eaten that as my whole meal. It was so silky and rich and delicious.

                                        1. I don't know if it was the worst meal ever, but my worst dining experience ever was at Bite several years ago. We went there on a very cold night and they seated us right near the door where we nearly froze every time it opened. We asked if we could be moved to another (of *several* empty) tables away from the door and the waiter very snottily said they were all reserved. We ordered drinks, appetizers and entrees and waited.

                                          ...and waited...

                                          The drinks and appetizers came out after about, I kid you not, 25-30 minutes of waiting. The appetizer was tasty, but got ice cold in seconds because of our table location. Incidently, no one had yet arrived to fill those other supposedly reserved tables.

                                          Then we waited for our entrees for an eternity, and I ordered the special of the day! Well over an hour after sitting down, we decided we'd had enough. We had to go to the kitchen to find our waiter, who never came to tell us what the problem was or apologize or anything. We didn't act angry or anything, we simply said "We've been here over an hour and we're freezing and our entrees haven't arrived, so we'd like to pay for our appetizers and drinks and be one our way please."

                                          It was then than the waiter unleashed a tirade on us about "How DARE we order an entree and not pay for it! Who did we think we were?! etc. etc." We were flabbergasted. Seriously, I've worked in the service industry so I am a very understanding and undemanding patron, but this was outer limits. I get that the restaurant may have been understaffed or something may have happened. Things happen. But to go OFF on us because we didn't want to sit and get frost-bite (or die of old age) waiting for our food was just too much.

                                          Eventually he called the chef out to "ask" if it was "okay" for us to leave without paying for our entrees (at this point I was ready to walk out without paying for any of it) and the chef seemed a little mystified. He said "sure" then shrugged his shoulders and walked back into the kitchen. So on one hand we had a waiter screeching at us like we were stealing from the register, and on the other was the chef acting like he didn't give a crap what happened. It was surreal.

                                          The whole thing left us shaking our heads and we've never gone back. I heard the food is good but that was just too much. I noticed that it still seems to be in business but I can't imagine a reason why I'd ever patronize that establishment again.

                                          1. From a service perspective, Andies on Montrose is worst. I went there with a friend on our way to see a show at the Riviera a year or so ago. The room had maybe 4 tables filled, early evening, maybe 6:30 or so. We ordered drinks, an order of hummus and entrees. We received or drinks promptly, but after 20 minutes we still hadn't been brought the hummus. We flagged down the waiter who promised to bring it, 15 minutes later it showed up. Our entrees never came, and no one at any of the tables around us had food either, but the delivery guy walked in and out of the place at least 6 times carrying bags and bags of food for delivery.

                                            My friend finally walked into the kitchen and told them that we would be leaving. We stopped and got a hot dog before our concert.

                                            1. No lie - imo the "best bang for the buck" and "worst bang for the buck" are within 50 feet of one another. Cafe Spiaggia for best, Spiaggia for worst. MUCH Better service, almost as good of pastas/mains, better breads and dessert, equally nice setting for about 1/5 the pricetag.

                                              1. worst food i've had is from "italian village." all the pasta i've tried there (4 kinds) range from mediocre to bad to inedible.

                                                worst service i've received from a sit-down restaurant is "le titi de paris" in arlington heights. the waitress was extremely rude and offensive (i'll spare the horrendous details). to make matters worse, the food was not that great. the tilapia was so overcooked that it was nearly inedible. the signature suffle was underdone, resulting in an eggy and raw-tasting center.

                                                worst value is charlie trotter's. the service and ambiance was good. but the food was off balance. too many dessert courses and not enough savory courses. the execution of trendy ingredients were awkward. eel was not de-boned properly, rose emulsion was repulsive, and shiso sorbet was bland and inedible. i also left hungry. not a good bang for the bucks.

                                                another honorable mention is david burke's. they overcook my steaks both times i visited them - simply inexcusable for a steakhouse of this caliber. the side dishes were also too greasy.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: mountsac

                                                  Very surprising - I found Trotter's remarkably well polished and Burke's lunch was a steal for the quality.

                                                  1. re: uhockey

                                                    i wanted to love trotter's. actually, reading your and kevin's blog posts about trotter's - which were extremely positive - was one of the reasons i finally made it to this chicago temple. maybe they had an off-night or maybe it's just a matter of personal preference, but i left the place so unfulfilled - both literally and figuratively - that i had to go to chinatown to get fed right after

                                                    regarding david burke's, i also thought the lunch prix fixe was of good price. but overcooking steaks in my opinion is a cardinal sin for a steakhouse of this caliber (and i've dined there twice for both lunch and dinner, so i know it's not just an "off night"). perhaps their seafood is better executed.

                                                    1. re: mountsac

                                                      And yet I've been to David Burke's Primehouse at least 10 times for dinner. The only occasion on which I ever had a steak cooked beyond my requested medium rare, they then brought me a new steak and comped it.

                                                      1. re: BRB

                                                        well then maybe i just have really bad luck. the first time they did medium well for my medium rare. so the second time i visited, i ordered rare-to-medium-rare and it still came back medium well. i never send back my food when it's overcooked, cuz i don't want them to throw the steak to waste (provided that it is edible) and start a new one.

                                                        1. re: mountsac

                                                          To be fair, that is your fault then - while economical, I guess, the restaurant can't know your tastes 100% if you don't convey something is wrong.

                                                          On the other hand, at Spiaggia, our hostess pressured us at first and then ignored us, the service was incredibly uneven, and when I was elbowed in the head by an ancillary server at the table behind us and mentioned it (both at the meal and via e-mail afterwards) it was entirely blown off.

                                                          1. re: uhockey

                                                            i have no problem with the service at db prime. that is not the complaint. cooking steaks to the right order is not a personal taste, but a matter of basic execution technique. i don't think that it is my fault to not have taught them how to cook steak. i simply won't patronize again if i think they are missing on something basic. but for charlie trotter's, i did convey my dislikes to them in writing and in person. my problem with trotter's is a matter of taste, and i'd like them to know that. and hopefully if more people do that, the restaurant will improve. but i would've never bothered if charlie trotter's did something fundamentally wrong such that my criticism would be rendered futile.

                                                            plus, on the aggregate, overall patronage is another way restaurants know if they are doing something right or wrong. that is not to say db prime will go out of business just because one customer experienced bad cooking twice. but the customer should feel free to go to other steakhouses that cook the steaks right and not be at blame.

                                                            likewise, i have read mixed review regarding spiaggia. your experience is by far the worst account. i guess you either had a bad round of luck, or the restaurant is not consistent. either way, i count that you won't be patronizing the restaurant any time soon, right?

                                                2. Bob Chinn's. Disgusting and expensive.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Vlajos

                                                    My pick would have to be Greek Islands in Greek Town. WORST service. EVER. Food has steadily gone downhill over the years. Nothing is consistent except the wait and the incredibly rude service and jacked up bill.

                                                    My other pick would have to be one of the myriad Lalo's around town. Horrible food, horrible Margaritas. Marginally good live entertainment. I don't get the draw. when there are SO many other fantastic real mexican food restaurants. why go to a chain like this? and pay over $12.95 for a taco dinner with nasty refried beans and dry rice?

                                                    1. re: rocks67

                                                      rocks 67 -

                                                      I'm one who doesn't get Lalo's either, HOWEVER, I did recently have a decent meal at the one on Harlem in Berwyn. Been a looong time since I had any decent food at lalo's. I think it's a "safe" option for Sombrero Mexican food for the masses that are scared of venturing out of their comfort zone for whatever reason. I.E. my mom. Dad will go anywhere, but Mom is a little more finicky.

                                                      My nomination for worst restaurant?
                                                      Most of the taquerias around the Chicagoland area that slop out griddle fried mystery steak parts and call it "carne asada." I love how the drunks line up like sheep to eat the garbage. For those of you familiar with the fire grilled skirt steak carne asada joints...we can all snicker at the masses.

                                                      1. re: rocks67

                                                        I'm glad it wasn't just us. Eight of us went there last year after reading about Greektown restos here & chose Greek Islands. Took *forever* to take order & then to bring to table; had to ask multiple times for water. And this was after 1:00 on a Monday!

                                                        OTOH, we ended up at Greek Islands in Lombard this past Summer for lunch & service was markedly better here as well as the food.

                                                    2. Carmine's on Rush.

                                                      AWFUL. We waited for an hour and a half past the reservation time (I would have left but I was there for someone else's birthday dinner). The waiter gave two of us crap about wanting just us to be on a separate check - the rest of the group ordered a ton of wine and shellfish appetizers. I have an allergy to shellfish, and I had strep so I wasn't drinking. My friend is a non-shellfish eating Jew and a non-drinker. We tried to explain to him why we wanted a separate check (and both of us had worked in the service industry so we understood it was kind of a pain), but no dice.

                                                      Food was unmemorable. I would never go back.