Mediocre Yelp Adventures

Taryn Beaufort/The USD Vista – The Cheesecake Factory’s lunch portion is still quite large.

Outside of the University of San Diego’s La Paloma and Student Life Pavilion, there is a whole other world of San Diego cuisine just waiting to be tasted. Some of you may have found the time to venture off-campus to try a few new restaurants. Some may have been great experiences, and others may have been completely terrible.

With the help of Yelp, we looked for some of the worst-rated restaurants within a few miles of campus to see if they are truly as bad as their ratings show. As easy as it may sound to discover a couple of poorly-rated restaurants, San Diego has very few restaurants under a three star rating. The following are a few restaurants that had three and a half star or lower ratings—try at your own discretion.

Roberto’s Taco Shop ($)

Coming in at only three stars, Roberto’s Taco Shop is located just down the street from campus and is popular among USD students. The first restaurant on our list to “enjoy,” we discovered the location of the restaurant was shared with a mini mart next to a gas station, which isn’t exactly appealing.

Before even entering the restaurant, we were able to guess where its low rating came from. Once inside the restaurant, we walked up to the ordering counter, which was guarded by barred windows, and ordered three chicken rolled tacos, a San Diego classic.

While the tacos were affordable and not exactly “three star horrible,” they were not what one would expect from San Diego, a city known for its authentic Mexican cuisine. The tacos were warm and seemed to be freshly made, but when it came to the toppings, that’s where things took a turn. We expected sour cream, guacamole, cheese, and maybe some lettuce. What we got was less than we expected.

The tacos were served with sour cream and cheese.The guacamole, however, seemed oddly similar to an avocado impersonator, rather than the kind of guacamole one would hope for at a Mexican restaurant. Hence the guacamole alone deserved Roberto’s three star rating.

Joe’s Crab Shack ($$)

Second on our list was three and a half starred Joe’s Crab Shack. Located right off of Friars Road and down the street from Fashion Valley Mall, it seemed like a decent restaurant for students to go to.

Arriving at lunch hour, we were surprised to find that there were almost no other customers, and we were seated immediately. We were seated in the very dimly lit restaurant, and were glad we may have beaten the rush hour, because we thought we could make it in and out in less than an hour. We were sadly mistaken, as the service was painfully slow. With perhaps 10 tables occupied at the restaurant, and an exceeding amount of staff, the whole meal still took around an hour and a half for us to finish.

One of us ordered the coconut shrimp with a side of coleslaw and hush puppies, while the other ordered a caesar salad with shrimp. While the coconut shrimp was a tad pricey, around $15, the salad was closer to around $10. However, once the meals arrived it was clear to see why the coconut shrimp was more on the expensive side, as they are not shy with their shrimp portions. There were at least 12-16 coconut shrimp tails in the basket, which was great, but the shrimp was a little on the squishy side.

Along with the squishy coconut shrimp was a side of mediocre coleslaw and some lackluster hush puppies. Never having tried hush puppies, we were eager to see what they were about. We came to learn that they are essentially bland in taste, and are not worth compromising your diet with this deep fried food.

On the other hand, the caesar salad exceeded expectations, which sounds difficult considering it is just a caesar salad. The shrimp in the salad was pretty good considering the relatively inexpensive price of the salad. They were small, bite-sized tails, but were grilled, not fried, and tasted fresh off the grill on the romaine lettuce and caesar dressing. Maybe Joe’s should stick to the salads and avoid the deep fryer.

Cheesecake Factory ($$)

On any given weekend night, the Cheesecake Factory’s line is typically out the door. But does it really deserve that kind of recognition? Rated with three and a half stars, we decided to put the previous ratings to the test.

After waiting for about 15 minutes, we were seated at a small table, hardly big enough to accommodate our orders to come—not off to a great start. We were handed menus that were basically the size of a small children’s book.

You would assume that having a diverse menu with countless options would be a positive for the customer, but the Cheesecake Factory may actually have a menu that is too large to be beneficial. Our cravings started going every which way, resulting in 20 minutes dedicated to choosing our choice of entree.

We ordered fish tacos and a barbeque ranch chicken salad. For being a restaurant with three and a half stars, the fish tacos lived up to the restaurant’s low rating. If you like tasteless fried fish, this dish is for you. Within the fried borders of the batter was a watery, mushy filet of fish. There seemed to be zero substance to the fish. Imagine a fried pocket of air, if there was such a thing. Needless to say, if you are ever in the mood for fish tacos, we’d suggest sticking to San Diego’s native Mexican restaurants.

In contrast, the chicken salad was a win. There was a nice ratio of lettuce to toppings and not too heavy on the dressing. We ordered the lunch size, and it was more than enough to be filling. We would highly recommend their salads in general. The cost of each dish was about $12-$15 respectively. In our opinion, it is still far too much for the quality of food that is being served.

Going into our calorie filled journey, we thought we would be eating at some of San Diego’s worst dining establishments. Regardless of where the worst Yelp reviews led us, we were ready to take it on with an open mind and fork in hand.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our overall experience was mediocre to say the least. Interestingly, all of these restaurants have one common denominator––they are all chain restaurants. So going forward, if you want to really experience San Diego’s food culture, stick to one of the local hole-in-the-wall restaurants.   

Written by Taryn Beaufort, Asst. Opinion Editor and Cynthia Yantz, Contributor