- Travel Home
- Travel News
Worst American restaurants in Europe
The American diner is taking over the continent, and not in a good way
Americans have been ruining foreign cuisine for years.
One need look no further than the local Mexican stand to find a soggy taco or the corner delivery joint to find a disk of bread that only mildly resembles pizza.
But we’re not the only ones.
Whether for pure kitsch value, mockery or a lazy plan to attract expats, Europe is littered with American-themed restaurants.
Also on CNN: Best American restaurants in Europe
Anyone wanting a taste of the States would be better off searching for a fast food joint than one of these spots.
You wouldn’t think it’d be hard to replicate basic American food like pancakes, pie or cheeseburgers.
These places that prove this oh so wrong.
1. American Dream (Paris)
Rude service. A patronizing menu of “American” specialties. An interior that takes kitsch to a nauseating level, with an over-abundance of cheap tchotchkes throughout, and for some inexplicable reason, a basement dedicated to Japanese manga.
This American Dream is a food lover's nightmare.
For €39.50 (US$52), you can order the gut-wrenching Cheeseburger Tower: six beef patties with cheddar cheese, onion rings and chili con carne.
The fries taste stale and the shakes are sweet to the point of undrinkable. The menu full of overpriced blandness is served on dishes made to look like paper plates.
We get it. American food is often rightly mocked for being oversized, dripping in grease or just plain tasteless.
But to make an entire restaurant out of the joke isn't funny.
The only redeeming thing about American Dream is the giant jukebox, which rotates 1980s hits.
The American Dream can mean a lot of things, but surely it never meant paying €11 (US$14.40) for a Heineken.
21 rue Daunou, Paris; +33 01 42 60 99 89; www.american-dream.fr
2. Sixties Diner (Berlin)
The only thing American about this restaurant in Mitte is its wall-to-wall mural painted with old Hollywood stars.
The rest of the place is about as authentic as a pair of black market Levi’s.
The evident version of a fun, American diner here is a place that's whisper-quiet and buzzing under burnt-out fluorescent lights.
The pancakes are gummy and flavorless. The meat is somehow both dry and fatty.
And while former East Berliners have never been known for their exceptional friendliness, the servers’ bad attitudes here rival even the surliest of American counter chefs.
They’re doing you a favor, if they ever get around to taking your order.
Try deviating from the menu with a request like a side of bacon and your server is likely to throw down her menu pad and roll her eyes in frustration.
If you want to try your luck, order the bottomless filter coffee and pray for a second cup. Just don’t expect to get your water refilled.
11 Oranienburger Strasse, Berlin; +49 30 285 99 041; www.sixtiesdiner.de
3. Star ‘n’ Bars (Monaco)
Stars ‘n’ Bars has one thing that no American restaurant can match: a sparkling view of the Monte Carlo Bay.
But that’s about all it has.
A recent remodel robbed any former character, making the interior look like any McDonald's in the States, but with blinding neon lights and tacky sports memorabilia.
The new menu has replaced real meat with processed patties, in true fast food style.
With a parking lot full of Ferraris and Maybachs, this weirdly misplaced establishment also dishes up superbly bland Tex Mex.
The outdoor terrace is usually packed with smokers, giving onlookers a misty view to the yachts while choking down recooked fries.
Service is mind-numbingly slow and you can expect to pay for the location.
Masochists will be happy to learn they’ve opened an outpost in Abu Dhabi.
6 quai Antoine, Monaco; +377 97 97 95 95; www.starsnbars.com
4. Roadhouse (London)
Something about using the term “roadhouse” outside of the States feels wrong. London’s Covent Garden example proves no exception.
Despite live music, DJs and all-night food in a city that shuts down at 11 p.m., Roadhouse can’t get its act together. A limited menu offers inflated prices for boring fried fixings.
Roadhouse attracts a steady stream of loud hen and stag parties, and boasts free “flair” entertainment with drinks, which means a bartender in a leather vest will add a flourish to the pour -- that’s about as exciting as this place gets.
In evening hours expect to pay a cover fee and have to talk your way past a power-tripping bouncer who enjoys making people wait and judges patrons based on their collar height.
35 The Piazza, London; +44 20 7240 6001; www.roadhouse.co.uk
5. HD Diner (Paris)
The wrongfully named Happy Days Diner offers a gaudy, plastic version of the classic diner.
Decorated from head-to-toe in pink and turquoise, HD is like a bad 1950s TV comedy come to life.
A gutted jukebox plays oldies without a break. Servers try in vain to plaster on fake smiles.
Expect long waits, even when the place is empty.
The menu is short. Breakfast means undercooked eggs, watery juice and pancakes with the consistency of a scone.
Lunch equates to the most average burger in town: tepid and crumbly, served on a massive bun that's all bread and no bite.
Mushy French fries need a good helping of salt, and milkshakes are thin.
The veggie burger is, amazingly, just a hash brown on a roll.
American-style cheesecake tastes straight out of the freezer.
25 rue Francisque Gay, Paris, +33 01 43 29 67 07; www.happydaysdiner.com
It's not all bad. Here are the best American restaurants in Europe.