Complicated Restaurant Relationships

It’s true: I have many complicated relationships with restaurants.

I know this sounds a bit dramatic, but it definitely happens. You know, you find this place that has really great food and everything seems awesome, until you realize that other factors about the place really kind of, well, suck.

An example? Sure. In fact, how about three?

1. La Botana (a Mexican restaurant in Winston-Salem)

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La Botana has all the makings for a solid Mexican restaurant. Its food is amazing and authentic (their selection is much broader than the typical Mexican restaurant) and the space is small, giving it a nice, cozy feel. But the service? Pretty terrible. And the prices? Way too high. I’ve given La Botana about seven tries, and each visit the servers are slow and seem annoyed by requests for things like water and more salsa. It doesn’t matter if we go during a busy dinnertime or for lunch where we’re the only ones in the restaurant: the service is consistently bad, which really puts a damper on what could be a delightful Mexican meal experience.

2. Mary’s Gourmet Diner (home of the best breakfast in Winston-Salem)

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I really hate to add this spot to the list, as I love the food at Mary’s. They have the best biscuits around, and their grits are to die for. But there are things about it that really, really bug me. For example, they charge for ANYTHING extra. I understand the need to charge for some extras such as hollandaise sauce or gravy, but asking for extra for things like syrup (even when you’ve ordered pancakes)? No, thanks. (Not to mention the fact that the food — though great — is already overpriced.) They even charge 25 cents for a to-go box. Yep. Have you even heard of something so lame? We get it — you’re the best breakfast place in town. But you don’t have to be so ridiculous about it.

3. Taqueria del Sol (a taco place with a couple of Atlanta locations)

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Taqueria has incredible food. They really, really do. Worth-standing-in-line-for food (which is what you do there — stand in line and order at the counter). But there’s also this obnoxious, overly particular personality that the restaurant has. Sure, it’s a place that people frequent time and time again, so you quickly “get” the way things work there, but watch out if you’re new to Taqueria and try to, say, push a couple of tables together so your whole party can dine together.

It’s hard to know quite what to do in these situations. Do you keep going back to restaurants that have wonderful food but other undesirable qualities?

I tried to think of a reverse example (a place where the food is so-so but other factors are stellar) and landed on Moe’s. Let’s face it: the food at Moe’s is only okay. It’s reliable, but nothing too special. But so many other things about Moe’s make it a place worth coming back to time and time again. The people are great (calling out “Welcome to Moe’s!” when you walk in the door). Their “extras” abound, with an abundant salsa bar and free chips for all. And their prices are great, with specials like Moe’s Mondays offering delightful deals each week. Yep — Moe’s is on my “good” list for sure.

What eateries are on your “it’s complicated” list?

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