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How many times are you willing to try a restaurant? (before forsaking it)

We all had the pleasure of eating something amazing from a new restaurant and that we couldn't wait to go back, but what about the not-so-good one? I am sure we all had the experience of trying a new restaurant to only be disappointed. I am not talking about average. I mean below average and poor.

Do you tend to go back? How many times are you willing to try a restaurant before you "give up" on it?

My answer:
In theory, I am always willing to give a restaurant a second chance (but probably not third). In practice, it can be difficult to go back to a restaurant which I had bad experience -- unless it is convenient. Even if I am willing to give them a second chance, there are just so many other newer and nicer restaurants to go to.

Looking back, I think I only go back 25% of the time for restaurants which I had a poor first impression. Let's face it. I don't even get to go back to some of the good ones due to other difficulties.

Taste aside, there was one time I am sure that I got a food poison from a restaurant. I have not gone back since. Food poison is a dead no-no for me.

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  1. Twice at most. Sometimes once is enough.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        Twice -- counting the first one, right? Which mean only go back once? Or do you mean going back twice?

        I am willing to go back once, and usually I will order something very different from the first time just to see if the restaurant manages to mess up two very dishes. If so, I don't go back.

          1. Depends. How bad was the resto to begin with? If truly dreadful, one bad experience is more than enough. But if I saw unrealized potential in the place, I'll probably wait a while and give it another shot. If still bad, screw it.

            Also, is it a unique niche restaurant providing a cuisine I cannot easily get otherwise? If so, I will be more forgiving. May stretch to three trips. But if it's the sort of place for which there are multitudinous options, one subpar experience banishes it from my restaurant list in perpetuity.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Excellent point. I think I tend to be more forgiving if it screws up something which it is not specialized. For example, I went to a trendy seafood restaurant once and order a BBQ pork sandwich (I left the South and missed BBQ), which wasn't too bad, but wasn't good either. Since BBQ pork isn't exactly what this restaurant is known for, I am more than happy to go back and try the seafood, which it turns out to be pretty good in my second visit.

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                That is an interesting way to give a second chance.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  The dining scene in my area is pretty incestuous. A tendency to break in new people for prep and lunch, with the first team finishing dinner prep and dinner.

                  Not saying good or bad, but what I have been told.

                  Will give a third chance if the problem is non food related.

              2. If there is no hope, one and done.

                If there are glimmers of hope, they get a second change and then no more.

                A new BBQ place opened up near my office recently and I had high hopes that were shattered after two trips.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  Hey Janet,

                  By the way, thanks for jeanmarieok's and your suggestion for my Richmond, VA trip. I will definitely try more of your suggestion in my second visit. Thanks.

                  <A new BBQ place opened up near my office recently and I had high hopes that were shattered after two trips.>

                  Which one is it? So I can avoid it during my next visit.

                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                      Oh that one? I actually heard good things about it. I think the only reason I didn't try it is that it was in the "other direction" where I would want to travel. It has a very awesome name for sure. Flying pig :) Put a smile on my face just to hear that name.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I went the first time right after they opened. BBQ was very dry and their sauces aren't very good....bland and sweet and very ketchupy. The slaw was very good as were the black beans I had for a side.

                        Tried it again a couple of weeks ago. Had the stuffed baked potato with chili, sour cream, bacon and cheddar. And a glass of water. The inside of the potato had been scooped out and all that was left was the skin and there was about 2 T of chili and very little of any other toppings. It was dry and flavorless and I left hungry. When I got back to my office and looked at the menu, I realized I was charged for the combo (w/drink and cornbread) rather than just the potato.

                2. I agree with most posters. It depends on the degree of "badness" that I experience on the first go-round. There are too many fish in the sea to spend good money on a sub-par experience.

                  1. It depends. I live in a suburb of Seattle and Tacoma that is 90% chain and fast food restaurants. I am thrilled every time there is a new non-chain place that opens in our town. For those places, I will give them at least a second chance if they aren't great the first visit, and will try a third time if I have heard positive comments from people I respect. I want to support those places and see them succeed.

                    If I make the trek into Seattle (45 min) or Tacoma (20-30 min) for a restaurant where there are many more good dining options, I am not likely to go back if my first experience isn't a good one. Just too many other possibilities to try and I don't get out that often, haha!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      <f I make the trek into Seattle (45 min) or Tacoma (20-30 min) for a restaurant where there are many more good dining options, I am not likely to go back if my first experience isn't a good one. Just too many other possibilities to try and I don't get out that often, haha!>

                      A very good point indeed. It is all about trade-off.

                    2. I always say I'll give something a 2nd chance, but there are too few occasions where we dine out and too many other good choices I can make. Truth is, I generally don't give a 2nd chance unless circumstances outside my control dictate it, such as an invitation from a friend to join them at said place, or a group gathering there, etc.

                      1. More than once we've been disappointed at a first visit and had the decision of whether to return decided for us by the fact that said restaurant went out of business.

                        1 Reply
                        1. As others have said, once is enough if it is really bad. Far more places end up in the list of places I wouldn't go out of my way for, but might end up at if circumstances made it a valid option. Finally are the places that I prefer not to return to, but someone has invited me to join them at. A popular (but in my mind sub-par) Mexican restaurant near me comes to mind. On occasion those restaurants surprise me and end up on my OK list, but more often my initial opinion is validated. Of course it could just be that I allow it to live down to my expectations. Food is hardly an objective subject.

                          1. Generally speaking, a place gets one chance with us.

                            There are exceptions - like the new place that opened in the village. Everyone had said it was poor but we went for dinner - and it was poor. Went back for lunch about a month later - just because it was in the village and we needed lunch - and it was fine.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Harters

                              < Far more places end up in the list of places I wouldn't go out of my way for>

                              That sounds about right for me as well.

                            2. Two chances for me, but the second chance is given several months after hoping they`ve improved and worked out the kinks.

                              1. Once. Don't have the money to risk wasting it on bad meals. And we are fortunate to live in an area with multiple options.

                                1. Depends on one thing: Is the food good?
                                  A new neighborhood Mexican restaurant opened in a building that was empty for 3 years. We patiently awaited the Grand Opening.
                                  We went with some neighbors and it was a painful experience. Growing pains did not do it justice. The owners must have planned on catering to the Hispanic community.
                                  The hostess and servers barely spoke English. The typos on the menu were hilarious. The server was not at all familiar with the menu and on and on and on........
                                  BUT: The food was authentic, fabulous Mexican!!!!
                                  The owner come over and apologized and assured us things would get better.
                                  We waited three months and went back. Much better but still far from great. English speaking servers, nicer decor and a little background music!! The food: Still fabulous.
                                  The owner came by to say hello and we gave him a positive review and some ideas on making it better.
                                  He told us they were having a special Valentine dinner with dancers and Mariachi band. We were sold on that idea.
                                  Valentine Day the place was packed. The dancers and band were great fun. The restaurant was not prepared for the evening. Dinner took three hours but we slipped into manana land and enjoyed the evening.
                                  The food: Still excellent.
                                  So, I guess if the food is good and the service etc. come up short we'll perservere. Mainly because they seemed to care. That was a big plus.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    This is an excellent story. Yeah, I am very forgiving when it comes to "good intention but poorly executed service". It sounds like this place you mentioned is a very nice place to be. Good authentic foods can be tough to get by. I do miss Mexican foods (I lived in California, and now in New Jersey).

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      We've all got our fingers crossed that they make it.
                                      The fact that they truly care is a big plus along with the great food.
                                      Funny coincidence: The local paper gave them a rave review today.

                                      1. re: Motosport

                                        <Funny coincidence: The local paper gave them a rave review today.>

                                        Oh good. That should be a big boost at least for the short run.

                                  2. It really depends on how truly wretched it was. In some cases I write it off after one try. Other times, I'm willing to give it a second chance.

                                    1. Once. We don't go out to eat that much and when we do try a new place, it had better be really good or we won't waste our money there again. However, if a favorite place has a bad night or two, we don't write them off without giving them several chances.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MrsJonesey

                                        Our used-to-be-favorite Mexican place has been really awful the last 2 times, and it's now off our list. We had hoped the 1st was just an "off" night, but the second-with out of country guest-was off the chart bad. So, guess 2 strikes is out for us.

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Our tried-and-true Mexican joint of choice is also donecakes. Turns out there were MAJOR health/sanitation violations, and this was not the first time. I'm usually not terribly squeamish about this stuff, but these violations were baaaayad. Won't be going back and it kills me.

                                      2. If the food issn't good, I don't go back.

                                        If the food is very good, but the service is bad, I might try it a second time.

                                        Mind you, I live in a city with thousands and thousands of restaurants, easily accessible by public transit or cab, so there's no point in trying again at indifferent places. If I live in a place with a limited selection, I'd be more likely to try again.