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Most Divisive Restaurants?

I wonder what are the most divisive restaurants -- people who love the place and people who hate the place, the emotions are raw, and nobody changes anybody's mind.

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  1. Pinks
    Ricky's Fish Tacos
    Apple Pan
    In n Out
    Father's Office

    21 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      What happened to Tito's? ;-D>

      1. re: ns1

        Wait... who hates Ricky's Fish Tacos???

        1. re: jesstifer

          I was going to ask the same question, but in a different vein ... I thought I was the only one!

          1. re: calpurnia

            i've seen heads exploding about this one

            1. re: ns1

              There are people that hate In n Out?!? Spot on list.

              Spice Table gets a lot of love on this board, but there are some bloggers who hate it.

              1. re: andytseng

                My wife hates In n Out -- too salty. I like 'em okay, but there are dozen better burgers in town. The fries are inedible, and bible verses on the cups turn me off.

                1. re: jesstifer

                  i hate the food served at In n Out too.
                  their shakes taste and have the mouth-feel of cool whip.

                  1. re: jesstifer

                    I agree with you about the bible verses. I wouldn't go to In-and-out for years because it that (well, that and there wasn't a close location).

                    To make the burger better, I ask for extra tomato, extra lettuce, ketchup instead of their secret sauce, and both grilled and raw onions. It really freshens it up (and they don't charge extra, which is nice). The fries become much more edible if you order them "lightly well" as they turn from limp fries in need of Viagra, to something with nice texture. Give that a try.

                    As for their shakes, I think they're just okay... but I do appreciate when they can make your shake a Neopolitan, which is interesting.

                    1. re: DrBruin

                      I think just about every single chain restaurant (or franchise type) is divisive.

                      In N Out is no exception.

                    2. re: jesstifer

                      "...but there are dozen better burgers in town."


                      A dozen better diner-style (thin patty, which is what we're discssing when comparing to In n Out)) burgers in town in the $3 range? Where/who?? The In n Out cheeseburger goes for about $2.15 and the double-double goes for about $3.15. Where are better $3 burgers using fresh quality ingredients, because i would sincerely patronize them?

                      I know, many have previously argued that since they allegedly almost never indulge in fast/chain burgers, when a craving hits, they'll seek out a better more expensive burger to make the calories worth it. They'd rather shell out extra for something from Apple Pan or Pie n Burger (both of which i also actually like). But if you have a family of 4 or 6 and you're going out for a little indulgence, that extra $3 per burger x 4/6 family members adds up and adds another $15+ onto the tab for what was supposed to be a simple burger meal.

                      Again, where are these better $3 double burgers exactly? Batsh*t crazy responses like Burger King don't count (yes, i know everyone's entitled to like what they like, but such batsh*t crazy responses like Burger King on other threads are just too much and will cause one's head to explode like in that film Scanners)... Thanks

                      1. re: silence9

                        I didn't say better burger for a lower or comparable price. Just better, in the same genre. Without trying to count a dozen, I prefer Tommy's, Carneys, Ftburger, Astro burger, Sunset Grill, Pinks, Apple Pan, Johnny Rockets, The Hat, and a half doze interchangeable pastrami/burrito/burger joints. Burger King certainly not, thogh I have weakness for Famous Stars. But if <$3, or a drive-thru, is a huge criterion... Sure, In n Out.

                        Apple Pan
                        10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                        Sunset Grill
                        7439 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                        Sunset Grill
                        1701 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                        1. re: jesstifer

                          Sunset Grill is no more. Now it's Shaka Shack Burgers. Haven't been but plan on going one of these days. Put in a place link for Shaka Shack (including a website with menu containing prices) to the CH database and marked Sunset Grill as closed.

                          Shaka Shack Burgers
                          1701 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Thanks for the info! Though I still was fond of it, it was never the same without Joe.

                          2. re: jesstifer

                            Thank you for the sincere response, I appreciate it. You did indeed compile a list of your faves... I will need to try Carney's for a burger, and The Hat...

                            1. re: jesstifer

                              I really like Fatburger, but a regular Fatburger, fries and a coke "deal" any my local Fatburger is $8.99 plus tax. It's $9.98 plus tax for a cheeseburger deal. I think an In N Out cheeseburger, fries and coke is about half that price.

                              1. re: jesstifer

                                I didn't say better burger for a lower or comparable price. Just better, in the same genre. Without trying to count a dozen, I prefer Tommy's, Carneys, Ftburger, Astro burger, Sunset Grill, Pinks, Apple Pan, Johnny Rockets, The Hat, and a half doze interchangeable pastrami/burrito/burger joints ...

                                Tommy's is good only because it's open late. Apple Pan and Johnny Rockets are easily double the price of an In N Out burger.

                                If you think a typical pastrami/burrito/burger joint (e.g. Astro Burger) is better than In N Out than we are really starting with very different premises as to what a good burger should be.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  in n out could do a great hood burger if they had the ingredients. one can dream.

                        2. re: ns1

                          Good list. Phillipe's & Tito's at top of my 'most divisive' list. Especially with Tito's threads, Chowhound Team always needs to intervene.

                          1. I second a lot on that list (but I like FO).

                            Off the top of my head, I'd add...

                            Musso & Frank's.
                            The Ivy
                            Dan Tana's

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              Good additions to the list, foodiemahoodie

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                Love Dan Tana's and Ivy is consistently good.

                                1. re: BSW6490

                                  As I understand it, the Ivy can be good if you're either a celeb or well known to them. Otherwise, all bets are off.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      I strongly disagree with this statement. Also, if you want Ivy's food at a fraction of the price, go to their commissary on South Robertson. Food is great, place is tiny. Dolce Isola is the place.

                                2. Does Crustacean count?

                                  Or do the emotions (good and bad) have to be somewhat equally divided to be considered "divisive"?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I think Crustacean is what the Zagat calls a "teflon" -- a restaurant that few here would defend but does great business anyway.

                                  2. Anyplace that begins with "El..." and is famous for margaritas and/or green corn.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: jesstifer

                                      lol. i can't believe any one would defend this genre!

                                      1. re: echoparkdirt

                                        I confess I'm a bit of an El Chavo apologist. I love their Chile Verde; spiciest in town.

                                      2. re: jesstifer

                                        ...um, El Taurino...? Haven't seen too much negative about them...

                                        1. re: annagranfors

                                          It's always "wooo! El Taurino" at 2am, but by 2pm it's like "FML, El Taurino". Disgusting stuff when you're sober.

                                      3. Good suggestions so far.

                                        I'd add:

                                        Short Order
                                        Pie 'n Burger

                                        There are some places that have very divided opinions here but don't quite fall in the "divisive" category (which I interpret as "capable of triggering a religious war"):

                                        Din Tai Fung
                                        Singapore's Banana Leaf
                                        Loteria Grill
                                        Griddle Cafe.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                          Glad to hear Loteria's on someone's "no" list. I thought I was alone.

                                          1. re: jesstifer

                                            You are not alone. I also don't get Loteria.

                                            1. re: maudies5

                                              I like the food, but don't get the prices and hate how stingy they are with salsa (which costs ridiculous amounts for small containers).

                                        2. Intelligentsia Coffee and Cheesecake Factory immediately come to my mind.
                                          Would have thought that Tito's Tacos would have been at the top of your list, rather than having become an addition.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: carter

                                            Really? I can't recall seeing many Intelligentsia detractors or Cheesecake Factory advocates here. Sure, there are a few of both, but far and few between. I haven't seen epically long threads quarreling over either, though.

                                            Definitely agree about Tito's -- it's the poster child for divisive restaurants, and was mentioned above by Servorg.

                                            1. re: Peripatetic

                                              I don't think I've ever seen more hotly contested views here on the L.A. board than the ones that get batted back and forth over (and over and over again) those we see for Tito's and The Apple Pan (with Father's Office a close 3rd - but the asterisk for FO is that they catch most of their flak for service related rules rather than for their food).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I agree about Apple Pan. Love the pie, hate the burger. Especially that nasty red relish they slop all over the burgers.

                                                1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                  Ask for it without the relish. Easy solution.

                                                  1. re: maudies5

                                                    Without the relish, is it really worth going to Apple Pan and paying $6+ for a burger?

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Never got Apple Pan, not great to me. I wonder if there's any non-LA peeps who love it -- maybe it's a nostalgia thing.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Sure. The Hickory Burger is great without relish.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          This got my juices going for a Hickory Burger. Just returned from a great lunch at The Apple Pan. Oh my, it was so delicious. and worth every $. I also realized that their beverages are really inexpensive. Iced tea is $1.25 and refills always being offered. My husband had a can of coke and it was $1.50.

                                                        2. re: maudies5

                                                          Here is an easier solution, not go there and avoid an overhyped burger that is no better than Marty's down the street. I can also get a Vienna beef fire dog with chili and pastrami and avoid the crowds. Perfect solution and easier than the aforementioned.

                                                          1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                            IMHO, the Apple Pan is not "overhyped." I love it.

                                                            1. re: maudies5

                                                              I don't have any dispute with you about your love or passion for Apple Pan.

                                                              All I am saying, maudies5, is that Apple Pan and In N Out are not comparable comparisons. The former sells their burger for easily 2x the price of the latter.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                FYI, I never compared the 2. I only stated that I love the Apple Pan. There is no way I would ever compare it to In N Out. This is really all I wish to say on this subject. I am a fan of the Apple Pan and everyone I know who has visited it comes away a fan. I rarely eat beef burgers. When I do, I go to the Apple Pan for a casual yet yummy burger. When I want a fancy one, then I go to Rustic Canyon or The Hungry Cat.

                                                2. I'll throw in Urth Cafe and Freres Taix. Hate the former and find the latter pleasant nostalgia with a number of decent menu items but opinions here vary wildly.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Layne Murphy

                                                    I love Taix. Especially the Thursday night lapin in mustard sauce. I take the leftovers home and make Taquitos de Conejo for lunch the next day.

                                                    1. re: Layne Murphy

                                                      I agree re: your assessment of Taix. If you go with Ruth's Chris/Morton's, etc. expectations, you will have been mislead. but it you go thinking you are going to have a nice dinner, nothing over the top qualitative, yet will also leave with your wallet in tact, you are good to go.
                                                      The wine list is very good and very affordable, the thursday lapin and Monday filet are two of the best specials, and at $18.95 including sides, how far off can you be?
                                                      Regular menu items are also quite good, with few entrees over $23 or so.
                                                      BYO wine is also a very good option .
                                                      Great for pre-Music Center or Disney Hall events - ten minutes east.
                                                      Serves its purpose perfectly.

                                                      1. re: carter

                                                        I have often wondered if it isn't an LA Essential candidate.

                                                    2. Javier's in Newport Coast.

                                                      1. To the many appropriate suggestions listed above, I'd add:

                                                        Giorgio Baldi
                                                        Coral Tree Cafe
                                                        Red Medicine
                                                        Da Sung Sa
                                                        Chung King
                                                        Crab Cooker
                                                        Gladstones (new SBE version)
                                                        La Super-Rica (not technically in this board's area, but still provokes the odd squabble)
                                                        Any food truck festival

                                                          1. re: ChefRoux

                                                            I don't recall seeing much acrimony over Langers. Mostly non-pastrami lovers who don't like the other offerings, which I think most people agree are hit-or-miss.

                                                              1. re: jesstifer

                                                                Canter's is a fun place to visit at 2am after a night of tequila shots. The interior is great and the atmosphere is great. But is there anyone who will fervently defend its chow-worthiness? Just wondering . . .

                                                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                  Definately not the best deli in town but a great sentimental favorite. The bakery is actually pretty good. The knishes are o.k. as are many of the soups. Haven't been for a while but I believe they still have baked apples. Always great people watching and fun.

                                                                  1. re: Layne Murphy

                                                                    I agree with you (mostly -- their bagels and hamantashen are seriously meh) and I think most hounds would agree with you, so I'm not sure if Canter's is very divisive.

                                                          2. I'd have to put PROVIDENCE on this list. Not that anyone hates it. But along with so many raves, there seem to be many of us who like it ok but don't get all the fuss. I've been four times, tried different things and tasting menus and never feel it is worth all the fuss and money.

                                                            1. Am I the only one who did not LOVE Lawry's The Prime Rib??

                                                              I also do happen to love Phillipes, Musso Frank, and Pacific Dining Car (mostly for nostalgic/sentimental reasons) but have been disappointed with Patina...

                                                              Et tu?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: susiequeue

                                                                I didnt LOVE Lawry's, but I'm not a big prime rib fan. All those places are high on atmosphere and nostalgia, low on chow. Especially Musso. I've had many spectacularly awful meals there..

                                                                Atmosphere is a big part of the dining experience for me (part of my fondness for El Chavo is certainly due to day-glo sombreros), but I suppose that's not part of the Chowhound purview. Or is it? Should it be?

                                                              2. Most of the Patina restaurants generate some debate, though the consensus in recent years is that most of the restaurants with the exception of the flagship have gone so far downhill that there are not many defenders.

                                                                Sushi Nozawa and Sushi Sasabune. Maybe they are not as controversial as they used to be, but there are still some people who rave about them, while others complain about the lack of variety, pre-sliced fish, and oversaucing.

                                                                Not a restaurant, but Sweet Lady Jane. Most people seem to agree that the cakes are great, but the debate centers on the service.

                                                                Scoops. Some people go gaga over the ice cream. Others, like me, find the flavors ideas interesting, but have not been very impressed with the results.

                                                                The regular best steak debate, with the arguments about the strengths and weaknesses of Cut, Mastro's, Wolfgang's, Morton's and Ruth Chris'.

                                                                A few others that are pretty divisive:

                                                                Border Grill
                                                                Most of the "gourmet" taco trucks

                                                                1. Have to add Boneyard Bistro to the list. I'm always astonished when someone actually likes it.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                      Well, hardly Bob,
                                                                      Obviously with the huge business they are doing, somebody likes the Boneyard.
                                                                      I have not been in maybe 6-8 weeks, so its survival is not relying on my patronage.
                                                                      but as a parenthetical, Mr. Cecil's has already closed a block or so west, so once again, someone likes the Boneyard.
                                                                      Their burgers are always rated among the top burgers in the LA area, and their ribs are as good as anyone's.
                                                                      Too bad their bistro menu is so limited these days, but that is due to the popularity of the burgers and ribs, and of course, on Monday, the fried chicken.

                                                                  1. If Tito's Tacos is on the list, then I'd want to add Henry's Tacos. I actually kind like Henry's, but that may be a matter of proximity.

                                                                    1. Not quite a restaurant... but Diddy Riese cookies in Westwood has quite a few supporters and detractors.

                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                          And let's not forget Sushi Zo (although, like Father's Office, for the most part it's more about the service related issues than the food).

                                                                          1. re: DrBruin

                                                                            Good call on Diddy Riese. I can't stand those cookies.

                                                                            1. re: maudies5

                                                                              As an alum of UCLA, I have fond memories of Diddy Riese. Are they the best cookies I've had in my life? No, no they aren't, not by a long shot. Are they a good value? I still believe they are a good value (taste for the money). I think it's a great value, especially when you could have an ice cream sandwich made with 2 fresh baked cookies (for a buck, the last time I went). You couldn't find any place doing fresh baked cookie ice cream sandwiches back in the day. I'm partial to the cinnamon sugar cookies-vanilla ice cream sandwich.

                                                                              1. re: DrBruin

                                                                                I'm always shocked when someone recommends Musso and Frank. It makes me wonder if the poster has actually dined there.

                                                                                1. re: maudies5

                                                                                  Agreed, but MF's is so much more about it's place in Hollywood history than it is about the food. I mean who really orders Welsh Rarebit anymore. But the scene in the bar room is like going back in time. When I moved here in 1980 my prospective employer took a couple of us out to dinner there and sitting at the 6 top next to us was Paul Simon, Rob Reiner, Lorne Michaels, Penny Marshall and Laraine Newman enjoying cosmos and martinis. God this was my introduction to LA! Ages before that F. Scott Fitzgerald was trysting with Sheila Graham in the grill room. If it hasn't kept up with modern culinary preferences, who cares? That's really not why most people go there. It's a page from LA's past than never ceases to satisfy. Foodies can keep their distance.

                                                                                  1. re: trimtab

                                                                                    That's why I ONLY go there for drinks. Why anyone would eat there is beyond me.

                                                                                  2. re: maudies5

                                                                                    And I am shocked when someone doesn't like. it makes me wonder if the poster has actually dined there.

                                                                                      1. re: maudies5

                                                                                        > I agree with Scottca075


                                                                                        Didn't Scottca075 just disagree with your post above? Or am I missing something?

                                                                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                          Now you made me snort milk out my nose...thanks for that!

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            What a great contribution to this thread. Merry Xmas, Servorg.

                                                                                              1. re: maudies5

                                                                                                Hey, it was Broguiere's whole milk (thanks to my local Whole Foods for caring enough to stock the very best nose squirting milk in L.A.!)... ;-D>

                                                                                1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                                                  Great category. I've accepted the Chowhound wisdom on Canter's as a deli, but their bread and rolls are actually quite good. Intelligentsia makes a good cup of coffee, but so drips with attitude (especially in Silver Lake) that I can't stand it. Their original Chicago site is, I guess unsurprisingly, far less pretentious. I thought In 'n Out was OK, but never understood why there were the object of such veneration.

                                                                                  1. re: redrover

                                                                                    That's because In 'n Out is simply awesome. That is all.

                                                                                    1. re: redrover

                                                                                      In 'n Out. Compare to others in its category, not Father's Office/Umami, etc. It's a very good fast-food burger, plain and simple. Not, IMHO better than non-chain burger stands, but still good.

                                                                                      And you can order the fries extra-crisp if that's what you like.

                                                                                  2. I fail to understand how anyone could have a good experience at Tom Colicchio's Craft LA. One of the most overpriced jokes I've ever experienced.

                                                                                    Pink's... I just don't get it. In Chicago, every neighborhood has a hot dog stand superior to that place. Is it a marketing thing as with Robert Mondavi or something?

                                                                                    In N Out. I can understand why Californians love the burgers. I simply don't get it when it comes to the fries. No texture, no flavor.

                                                                                    Tito's I feel is okay... but not worthy of the hype.

                                                                                    1. Buca de Beppo in Redondo Beach! It is where the customer comes last. Worst service ever. Will never go there again as well as the Olive Garden near Pico Rivera. Those two are on my sh*t list.

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Clinton

                                                                                        who supports Buca de Beppo on this board?
                                                                                        i do have to admit that i have been known to love the peporoni pizza. it's embarassing.

                                                                                        1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                                          Bucca di Beppo is a very silly place. But there's much worse Italian food that passes for good here.

                                                                                          1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                                            I support Buca di Beppo.

                                                                                            Not because it's haute Italian cuisine, but rather it's a fun place and for the type of food it is offering (e.g. plain, no nonsense American-Italian fare) it does a fine job.

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              I freely admit that the one time we went to the BdB in Universal Studios for my great niece's birthday I had a good time. They use way too much salt, but that particular issue is so prevalent in the restaurant world that it's not really a legitimate complaint any longer. Our waitress was both on top of things and an absolute crack up. We laughed all the way through our meal, and when it comes to a 3 year old's birthday party that should be one of the prime ingredients of the mix.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                And that's what Buca di Beppo is good for, and intended for.

                                                                                                People who bash it I think really are expecting something different.

                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                  Count me in as well although, it's been several years since I've been.

                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                    this threadlet is inspiring! i am not so alone as i thought.

                                                                                        2. Tinga on La Brea. We think the tacos and the corn are fab, others compare it unfavorably (price especially) with taco trucks.

                                                                                          Second Singapore's Banana Leaf. We love it, but it gets dissed a lot for lack of authenticity.

                                                                                          1. Just remembered another: Pann's

                                                                                            Used to be mostly liked, but a recent thread was teeming with detractors.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                              Again, falls into the "food" vs. "nostalgia/ambience" debate. Which reigns supreme?

                                                                                              1. re: jesstifer

                                                                                                I like their fried chicken and biscuits and gravy, yet my first visit was five years ago, so not not a nostalgia thing for me. The ambiance is obviously a plus, but I would go there even if it looked like Rosco's.

                                                                                            2. In the BBQ category: Baby Blues

                                                                                              In the sandwich category: Oinkster

                                                                                              In the beverage category: Galco's

                                                                                              1. Well, it's a restaurant on wheels... but I'd say the Kogi truck seems to bring up mixed reviews...