Kitchen Nightmares Restaurants That Are Actually Worth A Visit

When Gordon Ramsay tells you that your restaurant is a nightmare, it's best to listen up. Struggling establishments featured on the show "Kitchen Nightmares" go under the microscope and often get some tough love from the famous Michelin-starred chef. Ramsay doesn't mince words and frequently drops some hard truths on chefs, owners, and restaurant staff with the goal of helping them get better, drawing on his years of experience at his own restaurants

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Predictably, not ever restaurant owner, chef, or server took Ramsay's advice, and many of the restaurants that appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares" have since gone under. Several heeded Ramsay's guidance, though, and remain open — some even with the same management. Apparently not all kitchen nightmares end badly! We took a look back at this classic show and compiled a list of the "Kitchen Nightmares" restaurants that are still serving up food for hungry customers to this day and worth a visit.

Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, New York

This retro-style diner appeared in the first episode of season 8 of "Kitchen Nightmares." The diner was being managed by two brothers but unfortunately, family drama often got in the way of great food and service. Some of the most notable infractions Ramsay found included expired food and a kitchen so greasy that Ramsay was worried the entire restaurant would go down if any open flames were to catch. He also balked at their gigantic menu, which included some unexpected items like coq au van that didn't fit in with the theme and were, frankly, not very good. In his typical expletive-laden fashion, Ramsay challenged them to come together for the sake of the restaurant.

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The brothers took his advice to heart and kept the majority of Ramsay's suggestions after filming wrapped, preserving the diner's rich history. Today, it proudly remains a staple in Astoria and serves plenty of delicious casual food. The menu is still lengthy but the brothers refocused to specialize in diner fare that patrons have come to expect from the restaurant, which has been in business since 1965. Bel Aire Diner also hosts special events, which began in 2020 and include live music, drag shows, and drive-in movies. If you want great diner food, fun ambiance, family-friendly events, and a kitchen that isn't about to go up in flames, Bel Aire is the spot and has over 200 five-star Yelp reviews.

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belairediner.nyc

(718) 721-3160

31-91 21st St, Queens, NY 11106

El Cantito Cafe in Yonkers, New York

El Cantito Cafe's co-owners (and brother-sister duo Adelvi and Julio Santana) opened the authentic Puerto Rican restaurant to honor their mother. Julio Santana cooked her recipes but didn't share them with anyone else, so when he was off his game, the food suffered. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry also took its toll, since El Cantito Cafe opened its doors just before restaurant dining came to a screeching halt. On their episode of "Kitchen Nightmares" during season 8, the co-owners were desperate to see business pick up before they had to shut down. Fortunately, both siblings were eager to hear Ramsay's suggestions, which included upgrading their kitchen appliances and storage, paring down the menu, and giving the seating area an overhaul.

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The two siblings stuck with Ramsay's vision and El Cantito Cafe has developed a reputation for impeccable service. The chef is often out engaging with customers to make sure that everything is just right. The restaurant has a strong emphasis on events that connect with the community, such as raffles, sip and paint nights, festivals, and an annual New Year's Eve celebration. We think their mama would be proud!

instagram.com/elcantitocafe

(914) 787-1550

1550D Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY 10710

South Brooklyn Foundry in Brooklyn, New York

Even though they had a lot of experience in the restaurant industry, the two co-owners of South Brooklyn Foundry found themselves in massive debt that threatened to shut their doors. When it came on season 8 of "Kitchen Nightmares," the restaurant had more than $120,000 in debt and not nearly enough business to see a way forward. The co-owners were also not on the same page with how to handle their finances and the work (and financial backing) they put into the restaurant. Ramsay's work focused on staffing and getting the kitchen operations up to par. Kelly, the owner in charge of the business side of things, was receptive to the feedback. The chef, however, was less than enthusiastic and ended up leaving the restaurant.

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After the show finished taping, the chef returned with a new commitment to creating the best food, working with co-owner Kelly Agnes, and delivering on a vision they created together. The improvements are obvious with more than 250 five-star Yelp reviews, many focusing on the restaurant's great food and atmosphere. South Brooklyn Foundry has since changed the menu a bit but still offers tasty brunch, lunch, and dinner favorites such as pancakes, eggs benedict, roasted salmon, and crispy brussels sprouts. The same burgers that Ramsay ordered are still on the menu but get rave reviews, even if they are still on the pricey side.

instagram.com/sbkfoundry

(718) 333-5287

6909 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

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Diwan in Port Washington, New Jersey

When Ramsay visited Diwan in season 8 of "Kitchen Nightmares," he had no idea that he'd be taking on two failing restaurants not just one. Diwan was cooking up Indian and Mexican cuisine, leading to an inefficient kitchen and customers who just didn't know what to make of the menu or the ambiance. Its time on "Kitchen Nightmares" included a decor overhaul, which helped ambiance, and a focus on creating a menu that worked for the type of food and experience they wanted patrons to have. Rather than do two types of cuisine poorly, Ramsay had them work on making the best Indian food they could.

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Today, it continues to specialize in Indian food and does it very well according to reviews. Many patrons celebrated their food as authentic, which wasn't the case when the chefs and staff were trying to manage two different menus out of the same kitchen. Diwan's current menu features favorite dishes like chutneys, tandoori chicken, lamb, and fish, and plenty of curries. It also has a nice selection of vegetarian dishes and desserts. The restaurant's owners and staff all appeared to put a lot of trust in Ramsay's expertise during the episode and have continued to implement his suggestions as the restaurant moves forward, now with a dedicated following of locals and visitors to sing its praises.

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instagram.com/diwanport

(516) 439-4200

37 Shore Rd, Port Washington, NY 11050

The Walnut Tree Inn in Wales

Even though it was a well-respected and successful country inn for decades, when The Walnut Tree Inn appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares" back in season 1, it wasn't doing so well. The owner/chef was trying to do it all but was not able to keep up with even the basics of running a restaurant. He changed things up when he first came onboard but wasn't finding the success he expected, at least not from paying customers. Patrons who had loved The Walnut Tree Inn for its quaint, rustic charm weren't excited about the new, posh feel even as it earned accolades for its food. The owner was busy in the kitchen trying to replace a chef who left while also running the business side of things, both unsuccessfully.

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A change of ownership and a new chef turned things around for The Walnut Tree. Today, not only is the restaurant still open but it holds a Michelin star again and plenty of people coming through its doors. The food is still upscale but strikes the right balance between a unique, special meal and something that you'd return for time and again. As the website notes, The Walnut Tree creates deceptively simple food that takes a lot of skill. It is still on the pricey side but customers don't seem to mind as the dining experience and excellent food justify the splurge.

thewalnuttreeinn.com

(44) 1873-852797

Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny NP7 8AW, United Kingdom

Spin a Yarn Steakhouse in Fremont, California

Spin a Yarn Steakhouse appeared on season 5 of "Kitchen Nightmares" and it was clear to viewers as well as Ramsay, who had a look of disbelief on his face through most of the episode, that the restaurant's financial troubles were only one part of their struggles. Many of the dishes he tasted were made with canned ingredients rather than fresh, patrons endured long wait times for a table just to get subpar food, and the restaurant's look didn't work, especially given its almost $1 million renovation budget. The owner's wife, who played a significant role in the restaurant's operation including the renovation, made a lot of mistakes that led to dissatisfied customers and family tension. Ramsay revamped the menu, focusing on great steak worthy of a steakhouse, and taught everyone some basic skills that they could apply in the kitchen and in the front of the restaurant.

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Today, Spin a Yarn Steakhouse has almost 275 five-star reviews on Yelp. According to customers, the kitchen makes great food, the atmosphere is outstanding, and the service is attentive. It has mostly stuck with the menu created by Ramsay but brought back a few dishes that older patrons missed. You can still enjoy the table-side prime rib service, which was a focal point of the restaurant's "Kitchen Nightmares" episode that Ramsay trained the staff to do.

spinayarnsteakhouse.com

(510) 656-9141

45915 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539

Lido di Manhattan Beach in Manhattan Beach, California

The main issue that Ramsay faced when he walked in to help Lido di Manhattan Beach was the owner's inexperience, which was causing issues in guest service and how the kitchen was run. She bought the restaurant, which was already established and thriving, immediately after graduating from college without any knowledge of the restaurant industry and barely changed a thing in the five years that she owned it before Ramsay stepped in to help. When she ended up dating the staff instead of managing them, the restaurant started to flounder even more. Ramsay found that the kitchen was dirty and the staff didn't work as expected. His criticism was hard for the owner to hear and led to a few tears but she ultimately decided to jump in and follow his advice.

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After Ramsey gave the inexperienced owner a crash course in running a restaurant, including a three-week stint with a guest chef training up the kitchen staff, this Italian eatery with California flair started to thrive. Today, it has almost 300 five-star Yelp reviews. It has rebranded as a wine bar and features an extensive wine list and a vibrant food menu. The pasta dishes and salads, plus the tiramisu for dessert, all get called out by happy customers frequently.

lidodimanhattan.com

(310) 536-0730

1550 Rosecrans Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Oceana Grill in New Orleans, Louisiana

The popular Oceana Grill restaurant sued Ramsey and "Kitchen Nightmares" twice for defamation after their episode aired and publicity around the dynamics at the restaurant reached viewers. The restaurant felt that the footage used in the episode misrepresented the realities inside the kitchen and for guests, many of whom reported a great dining experience. The restaurant's parent group even said that some scenes and footage were fabricated, which led to a limit on what could be shown. While the episode still aired, "Kitchen Nightmares" did settle with Oceana Grill in court and all seemed well. When unseen footage of spoiled ingredients surfaced later, "Kitchen Nightmares" once again found itself in legal trouble.

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Today, Oceana Grill is a hot spot in the French Quarter with more than 5,000 five-star Yelp reviews. You can find Cajun cuisine with a focus on seafood, rich dishes, and plenty of flavor, which is exactly what the New Orleans food scene is known for getting perfectly right. There are plenty of positive reviews that date back to pre-2011 — aka, before the restaurant was featured on Ramsay's show — so it's hard to say whether it was in real trouble or not. The restaurant did experience a boost in popularity following the show, as patrons lined up to come to its defense. It is still specializing in Louisiana and Creole cuisine at the same French Quarter location.

oceanagrill.com

(504) 525-6002

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739 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Fenwick Arms in Claughton, UK

Ramsay visited The Fenwick Arms and met the owner/chef, who made a big impression with his dedication, work ethic, and jaw-dropping collection of formal place settings and cutlery. But, he was overworked and at the edge of collapse, which was felt by the equally emotionally fraught staff. Ramsay focused on turning the formal, fine dining atmosphere into a cozy spot that visitors would expect at a roadside pub. He even led a rally to bring attention to the pub's gravy, which they started making from scratch. While a useful trick for the home chef, diners expected more from the pub and the owner delivered, complete with t-shirts and stickers celebrating the restaurant's real gravy.

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Ramsay revisited the pub a year later and was pleased to find that it was still doing well, championing gravy, and sharing specials on a chalkboard. But another pub had just opened nearby, which ended up cutting into The Fenwick Arms' customer base. While the owners featured on "Kitchen Nightmares" ended up selling The Fenwick Arms, it is still a bustling spot alongside the road for diners and travelers to stop for a bite. Now under new ownership, the revamped pub-style restaurant is one of the most popular in the area, and received TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice award in 2023. It kept with the pub fare and popular menu items include fish and steak options. They've even expanded to offer lodging as well.

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fenwickarms.co.uk

(44) 01524-221157

Lancaster Road, Claughton, Lancashire, LA2 9LA

Bask 46 in Woodland Park, New Jersey

Bask 46 was open less than a year when it appeared on season 8 of "Kitchen Nightmares." The owners were familiar with the restaurant industry and had led the teams at multiple successful spots within the community, including Bask Bar & Grill which had been in business for more than 20 years when Bask 46's "Kitchen Nightmares" episode aired. But, the executive chef in the kitchen at Bask 46 wasn't stepping up in the way that was needed, leading to increased stress on the owners that threatened not just the restaurant but their health. Ramsay came in with new menu items and tips to help the owners make the restaurant profitable, such as serving reasonable portion sizes. One of the biggest changes occurred when the executive chef was fired on the day of the reopening following Ramsay's intervention.

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Today, this sports bar is still booming and gets positive reviews for its appetizers and ambiance. Some of its most popular dishes include wings, pizza, and quesadillas. If you're looking for casual dining where you can watch the game, Bask 46 has it down to a science. The owners are also more hands-on but less stressed overall and back to enjoying running a restaurant.

bask46.com

(973) 256-2275

1530 US-46, Woodland Park, NJ 07424

How we chose the Kitchen Nightmares restaurants worth visiting

Not all restaurants featured on "Kitchen Nightmares" are still around. So we first found which ones were still open, which had changed hands, and which were closed for good. Of those that are still serving patrons, we looked at customer reviews, especially those that called out certain dishes or mentioned repeat visits. Many of the success stories following the show involved owners and chefs who were receptive to feedback, even if they struggled to hear Ramsay's harsh criticisms at first. As a result, many of the changes made on the show are still in place at the most successful restaurants.

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While some of the restaurants focus on growth and their plans for the future in social media posts and on their websites, others embrace their identity as a "Kitchen Nightmares" restaurant. One even has a framed version of the menu that Chef Ramsay developed for them as part of their relaunch hanging proudly on the wall. Online reviewers often include patrons who visited because they saw the restaurant on "Kitchen Nightmares" and were curious, with happy reports of great food, service, and atmosphere following the show.

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