Are These the Worst Restaurants in America?

America's Worst Restaurants
America's Worst Restaurants

Every year, we conduct a wide-reaching survey and announce the 101 Best Restaurants in America. These legendary establishments are renowned for exemplary service, world-class food, and a pristine level of cleanliness. But when it comes to restaurants, there's a very wide spectrum, and far more restaurants are awful than good. We dug deep into the recesses of the culinary dustbin, and found some restaurants that very well might qualify to be the worst in the country.

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Listen, we understand that countless hours of hard work, commitment, and dedication go into running a restaurant. We know that these establishments employ hard workers who generally just want to do a good job. But these restaurants just look like they're not even trying any more. When you've racked up thousands upon thousands of dollars' worth of fines for having mouse droppings all over your kitchen, when you serve food that makes customers sick, when you employ shady business practices, and when it looks like the microwave is used more often than the oven, you deserve to be called out for it.

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Running a restaurant should be a source of pride. No restaurant owner should just be phoning it in. In order to track down what we believe to be America's worst restaurants, we dug up the restaurants with not only the most consistently terrible reviews on the Internet, but ones that are also so consistently filthy that when they get cited for a lack of cleanliness it's so severe that it makes the local news.

We know that every restaurant has its good days and its bad days. And even the worst restaurants will occasionally leave a customer satisfied, just like the best will occasionally leave a customer unsatisfied. So, not all of these restaurants have only one Yelp star. But when you begin to delve into these reviews, there's an uglier, more menacing trend here. And when all is said and done, there's the very real possibility that not only are these restaurants just bad, they're the worst restaurants in America.

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5) Bistro Med, Washington, D.C.

Multiple Yelp reviews describe horribly botched delivery orders from this Chinatown pizza and sandwich restaurant, which also inexplicably has a Turkish food menu section. "This pizza is the product of using bad flour, bad salt, bad cheese, bad sauce, bad toppings, and probably bad water," wrote one Yelp reviewer. "My boyfriend and I had our credit card numbers stolen from [here]," wrote another. And as for cleanliness? With 56 violations, it was the dirtiest restaurant in the city last year, with no soap and live cockroaches.

4) Kissena Dominican Diner, Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y.

Where to begin with this place? "The many drug dealers in wheel chairs (they at times walked down the street on their own so don't feel bad for them) sitting 3 feet from us on the other side of the glass lent an air of the degenerate life to our meal," wrote one Yelp reviewer (you can't make this stuff up), and many more complained of a waitstaff that speaks very limited English and treated non-Spanish-speaking customers poorly. As for the food? "I took a bite into the chicken and felt something scratch the top of my mouth. I took the piece out of my mouth and realized it was a metal piece the size of a staple," wrote one reviewer. "They will be hearing from my attorney soon since I ended up in the hospital and received a tetanus vaccine and 3 medications for this problem." "The meat seemed to have been boiled till it was a horrible stringy tasteless mash and what should be crispy skin was like a piece of rubber WTH," wrote another. In 2012 it was ranked one of the dirtiest restaurants in New York by Business Insider, which cited "live mice" and "inadequate personal cleanliness."

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3) Ho Mei Chinese Restaurant, Denver, Colo.

"Ho Mei must translate to the Yiddish 'Oy Vey' or more poignantly, 'Viscous Mush,'" wrote one Yelp reviewer of this questionable Denver Chinese restaurant. "FLEE!," chimed in another reviewer; "AVOID!," another. "The sesame chicken was hard as a rock and tasted like nothing I could identify," another wrote. "The place is dirty. I shudder to imagine what the kitchen looks like. Save your money. Go lick a bus seat to get the same gastrointestinal experience for free." And in 2012, they racked up $7,000 in health code violation fines. Yikes.

2) Sun Taco, Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a city renowned for its taco joints, but this one on Hollywood Boulevard, which serves Tex-Mex as well as Korean tacos, very well might be the city's worst. "Best part was the lettuce, and it wasn't even that good," wrote one Yelp reviewer, and another two got food poisoning from their burritos. Bland, flavorless food, chicken that "looks nothing like chicken," and messed up orders seem to be the norm here. As for the Korean options, the kimchee was greasy, "had absolutely no flavor and just looked like cabbage gone wrong," and the galbi was super-fatty, "dark black," and inedible. They've been written up for being "not clean" and in "disrepair," and for keeping containers uncovered.

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1) Colony Café, Miami Beach, Fla.

This restaurant, which we're pretty sure is the single worst-reviewed restaurant on Yelp, also apparently wins the prize for "shadiest restaurant in America." This restaurant has been accused of promising 50 percent discounts but overcharging anyway ("My rum and coke was $18 after the discount," said a reviewer), adding tips automatically without telling the customer, using multiple aliases for an unknown reason, and forcing customers to get cash from their overpriced ATM by telling them that the credit card terminal was down. Reviews read like a comedy of errors: wrong dishes being brought to the same table multiple times, waits exceeding two hours, a "gross" chicken sandwich costing $20, an inferior cut of meat attempting to be passed off as a rib-eye, and a manager who never seems to be there when asked for. As for the food? Burnt burgers, tiny portions, and fried calamari that "looked like leftover onion rings after someone was done with them....just a small pile of cold mush." Recent restaurant inspections (which took some digging to find because it's listed as "Chef Vincent") turned up improper toilet and hand-washing facilities, food kept at improper temperatures, improper labeling of food containers, and food contact surfaces not kept clean.

Whether it's called the Colony Café, Chef Vincent at Colony Hotel, Colony Bistro, or Colony Restaurant, it very well might be the worst restaurant in America.

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-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal