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Feb 18, 2014 10:36 AM

Depressing restaurants you love

I stole this idea from another thread. What are some depressing restaurants that you secretly love?

I have a few:
- Any of the horrible-service Ethiopian restaurants near UPenn. When you see them, you're shocked, when you're not greeted, you're depressed, but when you receive the food you get high on the endorphin rush of injera and veggies

- Green Tea in Newtown PA. First off this is in a basement. Second, it's owned by a mom & pop who had the same Mediterranean menu for about 15 years (how depressing is that?), which they called Cafe Con Leche. The owner got fat, became vegan, and finally expanded to something else. Surprisingly good and while the servers are ditzy beyond belief, the vegan deliciousness is full bore w/o being overly oily

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  1. El Zarape.
    It's a strange place and I always feel kind of bad for them that they don't have more eat-in patrons (I think most of their business is take out). Anyway, the strange 80s styling on the walls, combined with telenovella/futbal always playing on the tv, and a family member doing some tedious restaurant task right near the kitchen (like preparing the takeaway cutlery) makes me a little depressed. But once I get that salsa on the table, I'm ready to dig in. I'll be even sadder when they move their digs farther from my house and closer to Pat's/Geno's as they plan to do in the coming months.

    1. This is a funny thread. My favorite restaurant used to be
      scary, as opposed to depressing in its original location, in a strip mall along route 130 that was basically a fire trap.
      I adored the food and atmosphere other than that, but tried to forget about the inherent danger in the site. Then the landlord got greedy, and Matt had to relocate. It took
      him over two years to finally settle in Haddonfield.

      Voila: Fuji reborn is better than it ever was in the firetrap.
      The d├ęcor is down to earth but lovely, service is great, business is good, and the food is truly heavenly.

      The moral of the story is to stay loyal.

      1 Reply
      1. The old Dim Sum Garden on 11th Street definitely fit this category!

        4 Replies
          1. re: BelgianBeerMistress

            Don't you enjoy bus fumes with your Xiao Long Bao?

              1. re: Bigley9

                Had them the other day.. pan fried xiao long bao as good as ever even without the bus fumes.

        1. Great thread. Most depressing was Barbecue USA. Went on a very hot day when I was really hungry. It was very muggy since it had just rained. I was under time constraints and needed a quick meal.
          The Children's Hospital fundraiser was playing loudly on the radio and even though we begged the one lady more than once to please change the station she refused. The barbecue was so good but a sweet little girl was reading her poem to cancer while we ate and I started crying into my barbecue.
          The food court at montgomeryville wegman's is starting to fit the criteria. We love to eat in the section behind the pub but the pub employees seem to resent our sitting there when they need to make a quick phone call, gossip or hand wipe silverware. Last time someone was crashing with the silverware directly behind my friend. He didn't seem to notice thank goodness.
          It is a lovely quiet spot and the food is tasty but I'm afraid I will soon have to give it up. One more chance maybe.

          3 Replies
          1. re: givemecarbs

            haha, wasn't expecting those but def fit the bill

            1. re: givemecarbs

              carbs, Understand your frustration with Wegmans Food Court. I know Wegmans make an effort to hire and train to their standards and have often successfully done that. What I have noticed at the Collegeville and KofP stores is that the training often does not "hold up" for long. If I were truly bothered I would make the store management aware, probably not identifying the offender as not wanting anyone to get in trouble but just hoping for a corrections.

              1. re: Bacchus101

                Thanks Bacchus. In this economy I would not want to get anyone in trouble. I rarely complain having been on the other side of the counter a lot in the past. Things really have to go to hell in a handbasket.
                Hmm I guess going to the restaurant that used to be the Astor Diner for many years tends to be a bit depressing to me. Last time I went everything was fine but a couple of owners ago, oh my gosh. It was a disaster, so much so that I made one of my very first posts on chowhound about it and my fellow hounds were so kind and supportive that I've been in love with chowhound ever since.
                I used to love to hit the Astor for breakfast after the bar when it was open twenty four hours. They did a great job.

            2. I can't say it's depressing, just sadly and much-loved run down nostalgic - The Pub in Pensauken. You enter a time warp that has not changed since I was a little kid (six or seven; I'm now 63) with the same menu, same 1950's bar and lounge, same 1950's restrooms, same salad bar and the bronze mail boxes where you can leave a charitable donation to your choice of three organizations in lieu of a tip to the hat check girl.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chefpaulo

                CP, I feel that way about the Candlewyck in Buckingham. Haven't been in awhile though. The A and N diner in Sellersville used to be a time warp til it got a makeover.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  Unfortunately the Wyck has changed. Gone is the fish over the fireplace, most of the waitresses that had been there for years. The menu has been updated a little bit though the quality of the food hasnt improved.

                  The beer selection is quite good and they have a bottle shop with over 1000 different beers available.

                  1. re: cwdonald

                    Nooo not the fish! We need to start a petition to bring back the fish! Last time I went the bartender was dressed as the tooth fairy. He wore pink tights and everything. Well it was halloween at the Wyck.
                    Now I am remembering my favorite time warp story. Went back to DeLorenzo's in Trenton on Hamilton Ave a few years back. My friend and I were very pumped to be there again after many years. As he was looking at the pared down menu he laughed and said remember when the waiters had to wear those stupid little ties?
                    I had to whisper umm they are still wearing them.

                    1. re: givemecarbs

                      Yes.. now both DeLorenzo's and Papa's are gone, and soon to follow will be Rossi's. The burg has died...

                      1. re: cwdonald

                        Nooooooo. And I still miss maruca's. They bit the dust a long time ago. I used to make up songs about that place. And they were open late. /sigh
                        I also went to Romeo and Juliet's for beer and a chicken parm sandwich. Good times