Going out to eat is meant to be a pleasurable experience, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Everything from rude wait staff to an uncleanly restaurant can really put a damper on the whole eating out thing. If only there was a way to avoid spending money on bad food and bad service…
Well, have no fear! We’ve got the inside scoop of what to steer clear from when going out to eat. Here are 55 restaurant red flags to watch out for so you can have a 10/10 dining experience!
1. Check Out The Carpets
You can tell a lot about the cleanliness of a restaurant. If you notice the floors are disgusting it might be a telling sign of the overall experience. It shows that the staff could care less about what the customers walk into and the food probably isn’t something to write home to mom about.
2. Look For Local Health Inspector Reports
When you’re in a random city trying to grab a bite it can be tricky finding somewhere tasty. To make life easier, check that the restaurant has a recently passed health inspection report. It’s better to be safe than sorry especially when eating somewhere new.
3. Avoid The Ice Machine
Affordable restaurants are great for so many reasons but sometimes cleaning tasks get missed. Ice buckets in restaurants can run into some hygiene issues. Even though ice and soda machines should get cleaned pretty often, kitchens can forget that important cleaning assignment.
4. Smelly Seafood Restaurants
It’s not rare to walk into a seafood restaurant that smells “fishy” but it’s actually not the best sign. It usually means the fish is either bad or pretty close to it. When going to a seafood spot you really only want to smell a fresh ocean-like salt and an ocean breeze.
5. Say No To Cheap Steaks
Those $3-$5 steak deals seem so tempting, but trust me, it’s not worth it. You know what they say… you get what you pay for. It’s likely that the steak is low-quality meat or on it’s way to going bad.
6. Ask For Oyster Origin
Oysters and other shellfish are known to give people food poisoning if they aren’t cleaned properly. That’s why it’s important for restaurants to know they’re stuff about where their oysters and other fish are coming from. If you ask the server where the oysters or fish came from and they don’t know, it’s better to not take the chance. Your stomach will thank you later.
7. Avoid The Specials
When trying out a casual or new restaurant you might not want to pick something off of their specials list. It’s usually a dish that they haven’t tried out a lot of or food that the chefs are trying to get rid of. Play it safe and go with the fan favorites!
8. Enormous Menu
It’s nice that restaurants want to give their guests plenty of food options. But unfortunately, gigantic menus probably mean most of the food isn’t fresh. It’s impossible for a restaurant to have a large variety of dishes and have it stay fresh, so you’re most likely paying for frozen food.
9. Food Pics Don’t Match
When you see pictures of menu items that don’t look like their actual food, it can be a big red flag. That restaurant is probably trying to cover up their not so pretty dishes and trick customers into buying their sub-par food.
10. Empty Restaurant
Trying a new restaurant is risky. It’s best to watch out for an empty restaurant with a busy crowd everywhere else around it. The people obviously know something you don’t.
11. Staff Chemistry
When restaurant staff work well together and have a good system it usually means it’s a well ran establishment. If you go out somewhere and the staff is rude to their other coworkers, it might be a telling sign that they won’t be that nice to you. It also might mean the kitchen and service staff don’t communicate well and which could result in a bad meal.
12. Lines, Lines, Lines
Long lines can be a real drag but it could mean it’s worth the wait. If people are willing to wait to eat there it’s got to be a delicious spot. On the other hand, restaurants with little to no line on a busy weekend could mean it’s not so tasty.
13. Staff Doesn’t Like The Food
When going out to eat it’s nice to know if your server actually enjoys the food. Watch to see if staff members are eating the restaurant’s food as well, that’s a good sign that the food rocks. If the server admits they don’t like the food you might want to save the money and find a better spot.
14. Avoid Buffets and Salad Bars
As dreamy as all you can eat buffets sound, they aren’t the freshest foods. More often than not buffets have bland basic dishes that have been left out all day and constantly refilled. Depending on what time you get there, the food can get pretty soggy or dried up, and who knows how cleanly others have been dishing out their plates.
15. Server Suggestions
Servers are food salesmen, so it’s no surprise if they tell you the best thing on the menu is the most expensive thing on the menu. But other servers genuinely want you to have a pleasant experience. So when a server recommends a dish that is affordable and sounds delicious, definitely trust their judgment.
16. Skip The Lemons
Besides the lemons used in actual dishes, the one’s servers use for beverages are stored in a container that sits on the sides of the coolers for who knows how long. Restaurants prepare their lemon and lime wedges in bulk and sometimes they’re not rotated properly and can get old and unsanitary. So it’s best to just pass on the lemons.
17. Defending Bad Food
Usually, when something is wrong with your food the server is kind enough to take it back. But if you get into a situation where a server refuses to take back a dish or defends an inedible meal it probably means they can’t face the chef, which is definitely a red flag. Cut your losses and get out of there PRONTO.
18. Multi-Styled Restaurants
When restaurants try to have a wide variety of food styles it isn’t really the best way to go. For example, if an eatery serves both Mexican and Asian Fusion foods it might mean the kitchen is overdoing themselves and won’t be the best quality. Play it safe and just pick a specific cuisine spot.
19. New Management Sign
It’s common for a restaurant to be under new management. But when an establishment is advertising their new switch it can be a pretty bad sign.. literally. It’s usually a warning that they might still be working out the kinks.
20. Offering Coupons For Positive Reviews
Yelp has really changed the game when it comes to finding a great spot to eat. But when you go to a restaurant and the staff is offering coupons for positive Yelp reviews, it’s probably not the best joint. They shouldn’t be bribing customers for good feedback, the experience should speak for itself.
21. Street Sign Guys
Eateries that have a waving sign mascot might not be doing too well. It shows that they’d go to extensive lengths to get people in the door. So it might not be the most appetizing place to eat.
22. No Greetings
When you walk into a restaurant, being welcomed with a happy smile always makes you feel at home. But when it doesn’t happen, you can assume that their customer service is concerning. Be ready or turn around, it might not be the friendliest dining experience
23. Why Must We Wait?
When restaurants are on a wait, it’s usually because they don’t have any tables available. But if tables are open and your waiting, it’s a sign that the restaurant might not be up to demand. Something must’ve gone wrong, I sure hope it’s not food.
24. Busy Restaurant With No Help
Let’s be real, Restaurants can be hectic. The servers get slammed by a timely rush and if one thing goes wrong, it can delay everything. Luckily there are good managers out there. They can support their staff to ensure the customers don’t feel like they picked a bad restaurant. But when you notice a manager is lolly-gagging off to the side when servers need help it’s definitely a red flag.
25. Nasty Bathrooms
If you’re trying to spend money going out to eat, you want to have a clean experience. There are some warning signs that you’ve got to watch out for and a filthy restroom is one of them. It’s not like they’re cooking in the bathroom but it does show how much they care about cleanliness for their guests. I mean who really wants to walk into a trashed bathroom when going out to eat?
26. Outside Conditions
There’s a lot to take into consideration when walking into a new grub spot. It’s not the best sign if the outside of the restaurant has garbage all over the parking lot and a half hanging sign. You want to know the management cares about what people see before they walk in and trash isn’t one of them.
27. Reviews Can Be Deceiving
Don’t believe everything you read peeps. Restaurants can try to start the buzz about their restaurants by buying reviews from influencers. You can’t trust the reviews if they’re being paid for. Be sure to be thorough with your research and check all the reviews, not just a few.
28. Don’t Fall Into The Trap
Tourist destinations can mean overpriced food and a chaotic atmosphere. The best restaurants are usually the ones the tourists aren’t at. Tap on a local’s shoulder and ask them where their favorite spot in town is and see what you can find.
29. Cashier To Cook
One person can truly do it all, but do you really want them to? The same person who is excepting my money is going to be the same person handling the food. This is a cause for worry, for the obvious fact; germs are everywhere.
Now in the next 25 slides, we’ll be diving into fast food menu items that you shouldn’t spend a dime on. We’ve got the inside scoop of what really goes on and what you’re eating!
30. Burger King’s Fish Sandwich
There are some menu items you definitely want to stay away from, and Burger King’s fish sandwich is one of those. Of course, they’re not well-known for there fish and it’s rarely getting sold. What ends up happening is their frozen fish ends up sitting on a shelf for who knows how long. No thank you.
31. Auntie Anne’s Jumbo Jalapeno Cheese Pretzel Dog
If you’re on a diet this is the LAST bite you want to grab. This pretzel dog has 650 calories, 31 g of fat, and 1,360 mg of sodium. That’s enough to leave your arteries crying for help.
32. Starbucks Food
Starbucks has some pretty expensive food options and turns out it isn’t great quality. All of the food is pre-packaged and frozen and definitely not worth the $$.
33. Subway Tuna Sandwich
Subway has all kinds of sandwich fixins but you’ll probably want to steer clear of the tuna. It’s usually sitting out for long periods of time and rarely gets replaced or refreshed… Just make your own tuna sandwich at home.
34. Arby’s Roast Beef
It’s a big bummer when your main food item is something that people really shouldn’t eat. Arby’s is known for it’s roast beef, but the truth is it starts out as a paste and then gets dried out in the oven. That’s some less than fresh quality.
35. Chick Fil A “Gluten Free”
Everyone knows it, Chick-Fil-A is one of the best at what they do. The chicken sandwich is fast and friendly. But unfortunately for the non-gluten community, they can’t always be trusted. To properly separate you have to clean your grill constantly and at times it just doesn’t happen
36. Church’s Chicken Cobb Sandwich
Healthy options are hard to find at some fast food chains. So why not try a Church’s Chicken chicken and veggie sandwich? Well, it’s not as healthy as it would seem, with 810 calories with 1,460 mg of sodium. My hearts aching just thinking about it.
37. Buffalo Wild Wings, Everything But Wings
They have mastered the Chicken wings. But employees have said that basically everything on the menu besides the wings has been prepackaged and frozen. If you’re going to a place called buffalo wild wings, just get the wings.
38. Chipotle Tacos
As much as some people go crazy for Chipotle, there tacos can be a bit of a scam. Truth be told their tacos are half of the usually portions sold for the same price… You might wanna get more bang for your buck and grab a burrito.