These Are The Worst Mall Food Courts In America

Let's be honest, there's really nothing quite like the mall food court. A good mall food court offers an array of culinary options from around the globe. Whether it's Asian stir-fry, Mexican tacos, Italian pizza, or American burgers and fries, the mall food court has it. 

Now of course, food courts can also be found in airports, but the mall food court is its own special experience. It's the place where shoppers come to refuel after a morning of busy retail therapy and where teens congregate with friends. Or at least, the mall food court is where all of these things used to happen. 

It's no secret that America's shopping malls are struggling as a result of the online shopping boom. There are still good malls with good food courts out there, but far too many are becoming dead zones of activity or succumbing to repeat health code violations. From small towns to major metropolises, these mall food courts have fallen on hard times and are best avoided on your next shopping trip.

And if these food courts happen to be at your local shopping mecca... better stop at McDonald's before your next shopping trip.

Columbia Mall in Columbia, Missouri

"Has anyone noticed the sewer smell at the parking lot in front of the Food Court area?" That's what kicked off one Yelp review of the Columbia Mall. "Sewer smell" is going to be bad news for a mall food court 100 percent of the time. It's pretty much a given that nothing ruins an appetite for mall Chinese food like the stench of sewage.

Maybe this mall could have stayed off our list if that were only the one bad review, but that's hardly the case. Other reviewers had gripes such as panhandlers begging for money in the food court and finding suspected mouse droppings on the floor. One person simply summed it up, saying "their food court is whack." So what is it that makes this mall food court so whack"? 

Well, how about for starters the health department shutting down the Famous Cajun Grill for having cockroaches... in the food! As for which is worse, a sewer smell or roaches... eh, take your pick.

It should be noted that the Famous Cajun Grill incident — along with violations at Stir Fry 88 were in 2012 (via ABC17 News). Unfortunately, things haven't improved much.

A local news investigation series Behind the Kitchen Door, revealed in 2018 that the mall's Villa Italian Kitchen restaurant had violations for unsanitary conditions. Perhaps it's best to just wait until you get home to eat on your next shopping trip at  the Columbia Mall.

The Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas

Considering that Las Vegas has a ridiculous number of fantastic restaurants, if you have a bad meal because you chose to eat at a mall food court, well, that's a hard lesson to learn. 

That said, in a city like Las Vegas where there's money to be made, the Fashion Show Mall doesn't seem to be trying too hard. 

In June of 2012, the mall's sushi restaurant Ichiban was hit with 40 demerits (yikes!) and just skirted being closed down (via Eater). It wasn't so lucky in 2014, however, and was hit with 53 demerits in a single month and was ultimately forced to close its doors. That very same month, the mall's other Sushi restaurant, Ra Sushi, was closed for the second time — the first being in 2009 — for improperly storing food and bad pest control measures. 

While those incidents with the mall's restaurants are several years old, its Kung Fu Tea was hit with health violations in 2019 for not having hot water. 

That last health violation may not be as gag-inducing as cockroaches in the food, but let's take into consideration the mall food court's overall Yelp rating — a dismal two and a half stars. People seem to think that the tables are dirty, the food is barely above fast food quality, and the employees are rude. You're better off rolling the dice on some place else in Vegas.

The Galleria Pittsburgh Mills in Tarentum, Pennsylvania

Some mall food courts suffer from unsanitary conditions while other malls don't have anybody eating in them because their food courts have about as much activity as a ghost town. The Galleria Pittsburgh Mills is just that sort of mall and things don't appear to be looking up. 

As far as food options are concerned, shoppers can have their pick between Charleys Grilled Subs, Panera, and some place called Queen Chicken. As for Queen Chicken, it only has two reviews on Yelp and they're pretty mixed with one person giving it four stars and the other giving it just one star and calling the food "awful." You've basically got a 50/50 shot at getting a good or terrible meal. 

As for the rest of the food court, it apparently had a Sbarro pizzeria as recently as 2017, but it's now gone. A 2018 report showed that like many other American malls, Pittsburgh Mills is struggling to fill its massive space. When malls start to go downhill, a turnaround can be really difficult too.  

"The reality is that when you have a mall that's reached this point, where cash flow is down and occupancy is down, it's rare that a mall is able to turn itself around and become a vibrant center again," Edward Dittmer of Morningstar Credit Ratings said

Visitors to the Pittsburgh Mills had better enjoy that Panera while they can, because the food options could become slimmer at any moment.

Eastland Mall in Columbus, Ohio

The Eastland Mall has been a shopping destination for Columbus, Ohio residents for half a century, but the mall's golden age of activity may be over. According to The Columbus Dispatch, like a lot of once great shopping malls, the Eastland Mall is "barely hanging on" and the food court's recent troubles seem to reflect that.

In early 2017, the mall's Cajun Express restaurant was the winner of the local news station's "Dirty Dish Award" after it was found to be infested with cockroaches. (What is it with mall Cajun restaurants and roaches?) That wouldn't be the last that mall shoppers would hear about the poor food conditions of Cajun Express either. 

Cut to May of 2018, and the restaurant was found to have 14 health violations against it  — one being black mold in the ice machine. On the plus side, no roaches this time — hooray! 

Reviewers overall tend to agree that the mall has seen better days and its two star Yelp rating reflects that. One reviewer said that while the mall held a special place in their childhood, it was rather desolate on a recent trip and another reviewer complained of violence in the area. An October 2019 report of a shooting at the entrance to the mall food court seems to back up this concern. 

Like we said, the mall has seen far better days.

The Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Unlike so many other malls on our list, the Galleria Mall doesn't seem to be as dirty and depressing as other food courts upon first glance. A 2012 review from Inside Fort Lauderdale went so far as to say that it was "clean" and "beautiful." Don't get too excited about visiting though, it still has plenty of problems at hand that you'd be wise to steer clear of. 

The mall aims to go above the standard chain fast food that litters so many mall food courts and offers higher-end eats. Unfortunately, its food seems to fall below expectations. The reviewer described the employees as "incompetent" and said the "meatloaf was just junk." 

The publication visited the food court again in 2016, and noted that while the ambiance wasn't bad, the food and service were still horrid. Another food court visitor on TripAdvisor described a 2017 visit as being a disappointment with poor variety to choose from. Like so many other mall food courts on our list, The Galleria Mall is no stranger to being shut down by the health department and it was temporarily closed in 2014 for you guessed it... rodent and pest infestations. 

As for the mall's reviews, they're overall pretty mixed with people saying the selection of stores are decent, but that it "lacks a good quality food court."

Valley Plaza in Bakersfield, California

Perhaps at one time, the residents of Bakersfield were fans of shopping and eating at the Valley Plaza mall, but those days seem to be long gone. One Yelp reviewer who said they've been going to the mall since the early '90s described the food court as "the nastiest" food court they had ever seen in a mall. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for eating there. 

So what's so bad about this mall food court? Well, the eateries at the mall were told by mall management in 2016 not to put anything down the sink because of plumbing issues. Naturally, this raised eyebrows and the health department pretty quickly revoked permits of all nine food vendors and had the entire food court roped off.

Sadly, this wasn't a one-time mishap for the Valley Plaza either. The health department launched another investigation into the food court in 2017 after a "foul smell" was reported. No action was ever taken, but c'mon, nobody wants to enjoy their mall pizza with a foul stench in the air.

Some recent visitors to the mall say that it's going downhill every year and becoming a hub for criminal activity. "The only thing this place has going  for them is the Apple Store and Sephora," read one review from August of 2019. "After hearing how dirty and disgusting the food court is, I would never eat here again."

Aventura Mall in Aventura, Florida

Some mall food courts get their act together after being hit with a bad report card from the health department. Others though, seem to falter again months or years down the road. 

The Aventura Mall is by no means what one might consider a dump of a shopping mall. The mega-sized shopping mall opened in 1983 and according to the Miami New Times, it's second only to the Mall of America in terms of square footage. The mall also has an array of luxury stores like Burberry, Cartier, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Impressed yet?

Well, don't be, because the mall's history regarding the cleanliness of its food offerings is pretty sketchy. In 2010, the mall's restaurant Che Pasta was closed because of 15 violations related to a rodent infestation and improperly storing food (via South Florida Sun Sentinel). Miami's exterminators had more work coming their way again in 2017 when the mall's Sbarros was found to have a "rodent issue."  

Things at the Aventura Mall still seem to be not so great and The Miami Herald reported that twice in September of 2019 two mall eateries made their "Sick and Shut Down" list. One restaurant was found to have a swarm of flies hovering around the sushi bar. A bakery in the mall was also cited for having "25-plus live flies flying around the pastries." Who knows if it was the same swarm of flies from the sushi bar, but either way... yuck!

St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf, Maryland

The mall of St. Charles Towne Center is getting a bad reputation with residents for being an unclean place to eat after a day of shopping. A local news investigation in 2019 revealed that the food court has had its share of problems with rodents and pests. 

"There used to be a cookie place down there, I've seen a roach like run across their cookies before," mall shopper Donte Powell said. "And then there used to be a wing place right here and I've seen a roach come from underneath their register. Over there, I've seen roaches at the Popeyes." 

The local news said that during their report they even spotted a roach "just feet away from the food" at the mall's Asian Chao Oriental Eatery. Eww. 

Several reviews in 2018 and 2019 seemed to voice similar complaints about the mall's food court, calling it "gross" and "disgusting." Other mall patrons complained of poor security and just plain bad food.  Maybe this mall food court will be able to turn itself around, but in the meantime, dine with caution.

Greendale Mall in Worcester, Massachusetts

According to the Greendale Mall's website, they have a choice of two eateries when it comes to dining options. That's right, just two. If you're not in the mood for tacos or stir-fry, then too bad, you're out of luck. 

While the taco joint didn't have terrible reviews, the same can't be said for Stir Fry 88. It only has five reviews on Yelp and three of them gave the place just one star. One person said that they didn't even make it out of the mall before getting sick after eating there. Yeesh! Better go with the tacos on your next shopping visit. 

While Stir Fry 88's overall rating is just 2.5 stars, it somehow managed to beat out the mall itself which only has a sad, sad rating of 1.5 stars. People described the overall smell of the food court area as "old" and said that it seemed like there was "food poisoning waiting to happen." 

The sad existence of the Greendale Mall and its sorry excuse for a food court — if you can even call two eateries a "food court" — were enough to land it at the very bottom of Mass Live's mall rankings list. With 40 malls ahead of it, it's going to be a long, long climb if this mall food court wants to make a comeback.

Indiana Mall in Indiana, Pennsylvania

You know that your mall food court's reputation isn't at the top when the mall itself has a video dedicated to it on YouTube titled "Dead Mall... Rural Disaster." The 10-minute video and its incredibly '80s synth and keyboard musical score captures the mall's emptiness and provides some rather interesting facts (which aren't all verifiable). 

While the mall itself has a square footage of 456,000 square feet, according to the video, its food offerings are meager at best. Just like the Greendale Mall, the Indiana Mall also only has two places to eat. One of those places is the shopping mall stalwart, Auntie Anne's and the other a pizzeria called Capri Pizza. Sorry, kids, that's it.

The Indiana Gazette reported in 2018, that the company that owns the mall was trying to bring in new businesses and in April of 2019, it was announced that Kohl's would be joining JCPenny as the mall's second department store.

Now, of course, Kohls doesn't expand the food offerings, but you never know, business attracts business so maybe the Indiana Mall will eventually work up to three eateries in its food court. In the meantime, Capri Pizza is reminding folks on the mall's Yelp page that they're "still open." 

Hang in there, Capri Pizza.

Fort Steuben Mall in Steubenville, Ohio

It's never a good sign for a mall when it gets its own write-up on the website While an entire article that highlights the mall's fall from grace can't be blamed for its demise, it doesn't exactly help matters. 

A June 2019 review on TripAdvisor said that the mall was "past its prime" with only "a handful of mediocre restaurants left." Speaking of those "mediocre restaurants," the food offerings at this mall aren't exactly enticing. They do offer visitors Great American Cookies, but if you want an actual meal you're pretty limited. There's a place called Homemade Buffet, The Ville Restaurant & Bar, Eat'n Park, and a Texas Roadhouse which isn't even attached to the mall, so can we even count that?

As for the three food offerings mentioned, The Ville Restaurant only had 1.5 stars on Yelp with folks calling it "disgusting" and "mediocre at best." It'd be nice if Eat'n Park and Homemade Buffet were diamonds in the rough, but unfortunately, the poor reviews for both say otherwise. 

If you actually get a good meal while visiting this mall, consider yourself lucky.