In addition to its annual list of America's 101 best restaurants, the The Daily Meal this year decided to one-up itself and publish an alternate slideshow of the nation's 10 worst restaurants (click bait, anyone?). The list was compiled from restaurants with "the most consistently terrible reviews on the Internet," and also those that were so filthy that their citations often made local news headlines. While strip mall buffets like Nanay Gloria's Filipino Buffet in Las Vegas and Sunrise Chinese Buffet in San Diego are unsurprising choices, Los Angeles' Sun Taco landed the #2 spot for worst restaurant in America.
It's a weird choice considering Sun Taco isn't some mom-and-pop operation barely making rent in a Mid-City strip mall. It's a brightly-lit Mexican-Korean joint tucked into the food court of the Hollywood and Highland Center -- the same monstrous tourist mecca where the Academy Awards are held. We beg to differ: Shouldn't this place have been crowned the worst eatery in L.A.? To follow-up on The Daily Meal's claim, we decided to do some investigating of our own.
First, we checked out its two-star Yelp rating -- which frankly, could've been worse. One reviewer advised: "Avoid this place like the plague!" as he and another reviewer both alleged food poisoning from the burritos (¡Ay, qué horror!) But then there were the rave reviews in Spanglish: "fast and convenient, no waiting and the food is muy delicioso!" and those that were delighted by Sun Taco's fresh salsa bar. Others speculated that the only way this place stayed in business was from Hollywood Bowl traffic.
But on our own trek to Sun Taco, the restaurant was surprisingly difficult to find. Located on the third floor of the massive shopping center, it's in no way a convenient pit stop for those on their way to the Hollywood Bowl (although they do sell a two-burrito, two-taco picnic box for $16.) In fact, it took three or four escalator rides and several full circles around the entire mall to locate someone who directed us through an alley to a narrow strip of gloomy food court. And there it was: saturated in yellow lights and virtually vacant upon closing time at 9 p.m.
Alas, it had taken so long to actually locate the place that it was too late to order. Which brings us to another puzzling revelation: Sun Taco doesn't even serve late-night drunk food. Sober patrons must consume items like "Guacamole Quesadilla Mexican Pizza" ($13.99) and the Korean galbi-stuffed "Me Gusta Burrito" ($8.99) in broad daylight, and without alcoholic accompaniment. No me gusta.
The place was small but relatively clean. No rats, no bugs, no unseemly odors or unidentifiable fluids. Sure, the food had been served from metal tins underneath heat lamps and the advertised "lettuce cup tacos" for $8.99 seemed questionable at best, but -- the second worst restaurant in America? Alleged food poisoning be damned: Surely there are other restaurants more deserving of this egregious title. Perhaps the runners-up even serve greasy drunk food and offer a couple of parking spaces, too.