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What makes you decide to go back? [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

I have a friend ask me this. And I'm wonder how other people feel?

What makes me go back to a restaurant is pretty simple, yet complex too: Good service; good food; good wine; service that has a sense of humour...

And on the other hand, what makes you not go back?

My biggie is bad and/or indifferent service. I can put up with just about anything else.

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  1. Poor food. Hubby is more of a "give them another chance" type of guy and will even get the same item again even if it was poorly executed the first time. I can deal with poor/slow service if I'm prepared for it if the food is worth it. I will make a place a "regular" place if it has great service and passable food. Service tends to be the key item to making a place a regular spot, but bad food is the what will take a restaurant out of the running.

    1. Poor service will keep us from returning to a restaurant more than anything else. The other night my wife and I went to a restaurant here in SF; we thought the atmosphere was great, the drinks were excellent, the food mediocre but the service was just awful. We agreed that if the service had been even decent (not all the way to good) we'd likely have looked forward to a return for the space and the cocktails.

      Last night, we went to another spot in town that we return to all the time and they have the whole package. Consistently good food (not spectacular, but always well exectued), comfortable and very good service, a nice selection of half-bottles, good cocktails, a nice dessert list and really reasonable prices for all of that. We go there when we want to know we're going to have a nice meal and a good time.


      1. Keeps me from coming back: highly unclean restaurants, poor service.

        Keeps me coming back: the food, the wine, good service is always a winner, when the people who work there demonstrate a true love or passion for food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jpschust

          What jpschust said.

          Lousy service and a dirty joint don't make me happy.


        2. Keeps me coming back: location, price, taste of food.

          Keeps me from returning: poor service, lack of parking, crowds.

          1. I'll become a regular if the service is great. Even if the food isn't, we'll go back for drinks if the servers/bartender are a pleasure. Good food is the other reason. If the service sucks, I'll do take out.

            If a dining room is dirty, I'll turn around and walk away. If the food is overpriced for what you get, I will never return.

            1. GO BACK: Sincerity. Even if the food is not exactly exemplary, as long as the restaurant shows effort and gumption, then I'll go back to give a second (or third, fourth, etc.) chance.

              NOT GO BACK: Indifference. If a restaurant just doesn't care -- e.g. bad service, poor responsiveness, unimaginative and boring menu selection, etc. -- it will quickly make me an ex-customer, even if the food is just superb.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                What he said...exactly...oh, and a really crisp martini.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Exactly, If the people want to be there doing what they're doing, it shows.

                2. Food quality, tequila selection, location, are reasons I return to restaurants.

                  Reasons I dont return, bad service, bad food,

                  For me service is kind of a one sided issue for me. If the service is good, which is what I expect from everywhere I eat, it will not play into my decision to return. However if the service is bad, I will most likely never return.

                  1. Most important to keep me coming back: delicious food. I really don't care about the "ambiance", decor or alcoholic drink offerings. Good service is nice, but if the food is good enough, I'll return even if the service is awful. We go to a Thai place that is the perfect example. The owner/chef is in his eighties and prepares wonderful food. He has just one employee---a waitress who just doesn't have a clue. Honestly, really, really bad. But we keep going back because the food is so delicious. Although, last time, we made it take-out! ;-)

                    1. Simple
                      Go back: Good food, anything else is just a plus.
                      Not: Bad food

                      1. Service is my number one issue. I'm a pretty damn good cook, so the main reason I eat out is for something I can't do at home (sushi) or when I don't want to cook. If you can't provide me with service commensurate with your prices, I won't be back. Good food is a given, but we go two to Mexican food places that aren't necessarily the "best", but they have a great combination of food and quality service and are great for the kiddo.

                        There is nothing I loathe more than a pricey restaurant with snotty and indifferent service. If you are charging 30 bucks for an entree, you'd better make me feel like a queen.

                        My favorite place is a hole in the wall taqueria where they smille and call me "bolilla" (white bread) and are very happy to instruct me on new things to eat (lengua tacos are stupendous). It makes me happy to go there because I make them happy when I go there.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dalaimama

                          Ah, snotty and indifferent service- yes, that's a turnoff. But having lived in Mexico where service is not really a concept and food tended to come out of the kitchen fairly randomly, I don't really care that much about service. If the food is good, I'll go back. Sometimes they may just be having a bad day and be really short-handed. My daughter waitressed for a while, and there were days when half the waitstaff didn't show up for work. Doesn't mean the restaurant isn't serving good food- you may just have to wait for it a while.

                        2. Go back: good food, good price, good service - doesn't even have to be great
                          Not go back: bad service (I'm probably more annoyed by snobby service rather than inept service), truly bad food

                          There are some restaurants we haven't made it to because of no parking!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: boltnut55

                            If the food and prices are good I'll forgive inept service provided it isn't of the supercilious variety. Come to think of it, if the food is great and the price cheap you're hardly likely to get snobbish service.

                          2. My response is not too different from many that have been posted.
                            If there is good food and good service I will go back.
                            If there is good food and bad service, I probably would not be in a hurry to return.
                            If there was truly GREAT food and bad service, the remarkable food would be enough to get me to go back.
                            I am pretty easy to please though so the service has to be pretty horrible for me to even notice it. For the most part I go out to eat to enjoy a leisurely time so waits don't bother me, nor do small errors on the behalf of the waitstaff. The only thing that really grates my nerves is when there is a mistake that affects the food and the restaurant is unwiling to fix it or even try.