The 10 Worst Things to Eat Around Times Square, NYC


Want to eat healthy and have a salad for lunch? Here are a couple of your salad bar options at Smiler’s Deli.

April is the cruelest month, as the poet who wrote Cats once noted, and maybe that’s why we’re on a negativity binge at Fork in the Road. Last week we put up Our 10 Most Overrated Restaurants, and in a similar vein, this week we explore the worst eats available around Times Square.

Times Square must be the bad-eats capital of the city, because every abject chain, no matter how awful, has pitched its tent there. If you stand in the center — newly appointed with outdoor tables and chairs to encourage lingering, say, five minutes over your Big Mac — you’ll see tourists pass by wolfing down some of the most disgusting food on the planet.

Here, then, are our candidates for the very worst food foisted on tourists at the Crossroads of the World.

The Power Protein Plate gives you something chunky to wash down with your frappuccino. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

10. The Power Protein Plate at Starbucks certainly is wholesome — almost nauseatingly so. But it’s hard to think of a more cheerless meal, and what the hell is “peanut butter blend”? Is there something to be afraid of in plain peanut butter that ‘Bucks hasn’t told us about?

9. The name says it all: Bubba’s After the Storm Bucket of Boat Trash. At Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, this farrago of random sea creatures includes “flash fried shrimp, fish with Cajun spices, and steamed Canadian lobster claw.” But while the company flies the banner of Greenpeace Canada’s Safeguard Our Oceans, it makes no representation as to the actual provenance of its shrimp.

8. A knish from a street cart demonstrates that this sodden, weird, potato-stuffed pastry is as bad as it was years ago — hey, didn’t the health department prohibit knishes sitting around unwrapped in the cart? The outside is the worst part, like the rubbery wrinkled skin of a zombie. The naked knish is plucked from a pull-out drawer too near the ground by the vendor, who then wraps it in tin foil before handing it over. It tastes like it’s been incubating for weeks.

The leather-skinned knish is pure survival food, but even if the Donner party had had them, they still would have chosen to eat human flesh, on the grounds that it was much easier to digest.

The three components of Sbarro’s spaghetti and meatballs are strangers on the plate.

7. The Hershey store at the north end of Times Square is a Fort Knox of bad candy. Peddling the gritty, under-conched, burned-tasting chocolate that the brand is famous for, the store presents a nightmare of diverse chocolate products, including giant silver kisses. Sending one to a significant other could be the cruelest break-up of all.

6. Advocates for Italian-American cuisine hang their heads as they pass Sbarro, where the steam table is a horrifying sight. Take the classic spaghetti and meatballs: The balls are as scrawny and pale as Dick Cheney’s testicles, the spaghetti so extensively soaked that it can be said to have no texture at all, and the tomato sauce a blob glued to the top side of the spaghetti, unable to achieve penetration.

5. Cereberus Cajun Chicken Wrap (with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and creamy ranch dressing wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla) is a science-fiction-themed concoction named after the mythological dog that guards the gates of hell. To get it, you must enter outer space via the subterranean restaurant Mars 2112, then dine cheek by jowl with people who believe space travel has correlatives in bad greasy franchise food.

You must dodge an enemy spaceship to enter Mars 2112.

Looking like a dog poo harvested from the sidewalk with a paper towel, then deliberately dropped by the dog owner, McDonald’s snack wrap is beyond awful.

4. There are so many crappy products at McDonald’s that declaiming them is shooting fish in a barrel. But the one that wins the prize this time is the fried chicken snack wrap with ranch dressing, a vile assemblage that tastes like virtually nothing but gummy flour tortilla.

3. Also known as floaters or dirty water dogs, the franks sold from Sabrett carts have an unsavory reputation. Dressed with sauerkraut and strong mustard — both substances having antiseptic properties — the pernicious effects can be neutralized, but squirt on the ketchup and you’ve left yourself open to an attack of nausea, then ennui.

2. The salad bar at Smiler’s Deli is on par with most in Midtown — largely inedible unless you’ve recently been eating airline food. The bready and cold onion rings and mayo-smothered fake-crab-meat salad are only two of the repulsive things you can stuff in your plastic tray, which will likely remain forever unrecycled.

The dirty water dog is not a thing of the past at Times Square.

Four types of bad barbecue turned into a sauce-choked undifferentiated mass of meat corralled in doughy buns — that’s Barbecue Buddies at Famous Dave’s.

1. Nothing was as bad during our two-day Times Square food tour than the so-called BBQ Buddies at Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Barbecue: four small sandwiches, their doughy rolls still stuck together, containing four types of meat (rancid-tasting chicken breast; pulled pork like the strings in a spent rag mop; rubbery brisket with virtually no flavor; and sausage that, if it had a hole down the middle, would make the perfect garden hose).

Though the meat is already heavily sauced at Famous Dave’s, why not squirt on some more?

Next check out the 10 Best Things to Eat Around Times Square

Thanks to Gretchen Van Dyk for the idea for this piece.

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