Menu Items With Silly Names Are A Dark Red Flag

Everyone likes to snicker at a goofily-named store, book, or town once in a while. But the one place puns should never see the light of day is in a restaurant. Just imagine it: You've gotten dressed up for a nice dinner out, made a reservation, and maybe booked a babysitter for the kids. You've driven all the way to the restaurant, sat down, and started flipping through the menu when you realize the place has a penchant for silly-sounding names for their dishes and classic cocktails.

This kind of naming treatment is the first sign that your restaurant might not be as good as advertised. Restaurants that spend all of their time and energy coming up with cute dish names probably aren't paying as much attention to the food as they are to selling it. If you do end up at one of these restaurants, however, here's a tip: You don't have to say the name of the dish if you don't want to. You're allowed to point, and then enjoy your Stay Groovy Grilled Cheese with a certain level of dignity.

The curse of themed restaurants

Theme restaurants have historically been the biggest perpetrators of this titling tirade. After gaining popularity in the 80s and 90s, theme restaurants like the Rainforest Cafe, Medieval Times, Jekyll & Hyde, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company made bad food puns an art, forcing grown adults to say things like, "Hey, can I get the Iggy's Piggy Sandwich with a side of Safari Fries?" What are Safari Fries, you might be asking? They appear to be normal, run-of-the-mill French fries — inexplicably named after a safari.

While these restaurants, which were meant to act as experiential dining adventures, largely fell out of favor in the early 2000s (taking their uncomfortable naming conventions with them), they have seen a resurgence in recent years. Spurred on by big-budget marketing campaigns, themed pop-up restaurants have positively taken over major metropolitan cities from New York to Manchester (and yes, we mean the one in the UK) as diners look to immersive experiences to transport them into the world of their favorite movie or TV show. Projects like the Golden Girls Kitchen or the Friends-themed Central Perk coffee shop have cashed in on nostalgia to draw in customers. With this resurgence (perhaps renaissance is a better term), the wild ride of whimsical dish names has returned.

Barbie's failed pop-up

The Greta Gerwig "Barbie" movie, whose marketing budget was famously larger than that of the movie itself, created one such dining pop-up, the Malibu Barbie Cafe in New York. The menu of this beach-themed cafe included items like the Think Pink Margarita, Live Your Dream Grilled Cheese, Stay Groovy Grilled Cheese, and Make Waves Avocado Toast. The reviews of the pop-up were generally terrible, and it's not hard to understand why.

You're paying for the theme more than you're paying for the food. And, any time a theme is more important than the food, you're likely going to get the short end of the culinary stick. After all, wouldn't you rather eat something delicious than something mediocre disguised with pink food dye and a beachy nickname?

So if you're heading to a dining establishment with a theme, be sure to check out a menu online ahead of time if you suspect that you're in for the dining equivalent of a bad immersive art piece. Thank us later.