Monday, March 20, 2023 Mar 20, 2023
39° F Dallas, TX
Kids Kritics

Dirtiest Restaurants in Dallas: The Magic Time Machine

By Nancy Nichols |
It's not a beautiful day in this neighborhood.

I did not go to The Magic Time Machine for haute cuisine. When I packed up a good portion of my family, including three kids, and headed to the popular restaurant known for servers dressed as Peter Pan, Superman, or Jack Sparrow, I had no expectations of getting a decent meal even though the prices for entrees run from $13 to $23.99.  I did expect to dine in a safe and clean environment. Or at least a restaurant that was not so filthy it caused my 12-year old niece to turn to me, dirty fork in hand, and say, “Uncle Nancy, I think you should write about how dirty this place is.”

We walked in at 5:43PM on Sunday night. We were greeted by the stench of stale air. It was like walking into an old house without windows: the smell of musky furniture combined with lingering cigarette smoke trapped inside for years. The dark carpet was littered with bits of paper (toilet?) and napkins. Nobody had bothered to vacuum between shifts (days?). I spotted a plastic Gerber baby food container tucked behind a round light to the right side of the front door. The contents were dried and cracked. As I watched my 3-year old nephew run down the short hallway, I noticed a lamp cord connected to an extension cord lying perilously on the rug about a foot from the wall.

Do a shot of Pepto Bismol and jump hard.

Restroom: 6:00PM on Sunday night.

We were seated in the Library Room. At first I thought the dust on the books had been sprayed on for effect. Not so, it was real. Many of the books once glued to the wall were ripped off and  the unpainted wall was exposed. The wallpaper on one wall was worn through to the dry wall and you could run a knife down the outside and peel off a layer of crud. At 6:00PM on a Sunday night, the trash cans in both bathrooms were overflowing with used paper towels and the salad bar, which is displayed across the top of an old car, was surrounded by dropped ingredients.

Old baby food container tucked behind the light by the front door.

Servers dressed in tacky costumes were whirling around with huge trays of food and bubbling red, green, and yellow drinks. I never saw anyone replenish the anemic bowls at the salad bar or anyone attempt to wipe up the dressing, which dripped down the car door, or the black olives strewn across a plate of beets. The restaurant was maybe half-full.

I’m not going to get into the food except to say whatever you order will taste like nothing, including the tough-to-cut prime rib. This is not my first time to The Magic Time Machine. It has been open since 1973 and was once a hot place for dates (still is) and birthday parties (ditto). The costumes used to better: the ones I noticed looked like they’d been thrown together for a pre-school play: all felt, tights, and glitter.

Here’s the catch $23.99: the kids had fun. They didn’t have to pay the bill or endure the incredibly shoddy visuals. I wonder how long it has been since the someone has shampooed a rug, had the upholstery cleaned, or scrubbed a bathroom. I also wonder the last time a fire marshal or health inspector visited. They could walk in with in their uniforms on and nobody would even notice them! Adults shelling out big bucks in a dirty restaurant with kids’ handprints (not going there!) all over a greasy salad bar would appreciate the gesture. At least force them to put a bottle of Purell next to the ketchup.

Three feet from the front door. The main hallway.
The cruddy, worn-out wallpaper in the library.
Dirty, worn-out forks.