Critical Smackdown: The 20 Most Ferocious Restaurant Reviews of All Time

A brief history of food writers going H.A.M.


From the outside looking in, the restaurant critic’s job is a cushy gig—feasting in the hottest restaurants, sipping the finest wines, and essentially getting paid for a life of nonstop culinary hedonism. But once in a while, a dining experience comes along that is so uniformly horrible, it sends the professional eater into a blackout rage. And when the gloves come off, food writers are often at their sharpest, spewing bile with the same zeal they usually reserve for shoveling in the next torchon of foie gras.

Some call these negative reviews slams, or hit pieces—we call them smackdowns. They’re entertaining as all get-out to read, but it’s not all fun and games: Harsh reviews can make or break a restaurant in a matter of minutes. Here’s a look at 20 of the most chilling smackdowns of all time, as well as their consequences.

Written by Jamie Feldmar (@jfeldmar)

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