10 Ways to Tell a Restaurant is Bad and You Should Avoid it


Some tell-tale signs of a bad restaurant are apparent, while others are well hidden, and usually, you only notice them once it’s too late. Finding a good place to eat where you will feel welcomed and enjoy the food just as much as the ambiance is challenging, so you have to keep your eyes open well before entering the eatery. 

Dirty parking lot tells a story 

If you get out of the car and you’re greeted with overflowing dumpsters, cigarette butts, and dirty windows, it’s best to keep driving. The parking lot, like the whole area outside of the restaurant, reflects what to expect once you get inside. Even if you ignore this giant red flag and get superb food, that little voice will always wonder if that food was prepared correctly. 

The host’s appearance 

Many restaurants have hosts or hostesses who help customers feel welcomed and get seated. But what if there is no one to greet you? Even worse, what if the person welcoming you appears bored or untidy? Since the host’s face is the first one you see in the chosen restaurant, they should be inviting. If not, look for another place to eat. 

Service quality 

If you have to wait for a server to notice you for over five minutes, you should get up and leave. Good service is part of the experience, and the proper order would be for them to introduce themselves, ask for your drinks, and give you time to decide on your order. A good server is polite and friendly but not overbearing. They are helpful, but the customer is always right. 

Dirty menu, dirty business 

Once you get the menu, it is not only about choosing what to eat. If it is stained or greasy, run. This is not something to joke about because menus, even the clean-looking ones, can carry around 185,000 bacteria. That’s 100 times more than on a toilet seat, so embracing the QR code craze might be a good idea.

A filthy toilet is a major red flag 

While the customer does not get to see what’s behind the scenes, a trip to the toilet might be eye-opening. Your dining experience should not be limited to the one room where you’re seated, and going to the restroom is an extension. What if it is dirty? Well, then, you could only guess what the kitchen looks like, and once this thought enters your mind, the whole enjoyment is ruined. If managers don’t care about clean toilets, why would they care about a clean restaurant as a whole? 

Reviews are not always correct 

In the era of influencers, what might appear great on social media might be false advertising. The poshest places have PR teams dedicated to promoting their place, which is not something a local diner can afford. Similarly, a four-star restaurant can be an utter letdown, so it is essential to see the place for yourself. 

The overcrowded menu 

It is simple: one chef cannot be an expert in Italian, Chinese, and BBQ, so if the restaurant’s menu offers too many choices, it is a red flag. But even if there are two or three chefs, there is another critical question. If the restaurant ordered all that food, is it even fresh? 

Presentation is everything 

One of many reasons people love restaurants is because the food looks better. Finding something in your food clearly screams that you should run, but if the plate looks messy, it destroys the overall experience. Chefs who enjoy their jobs do not want something as trivial as the visual part of your meal to ruin your meal, so if the presentation is not great, the food will be less tasty. 

Trust your sense of smell 

A restaurant’s smell can reveal a thing or two about the place. It should tickle your taste buds and make you want to indulge and enjoy. Instead, if you notice there’s something off, skip it. It could be mold, dirty stove filters, or nasty stink from the toilet, but neither of these things is saying you should eat there. 

Empty seats 

If the restaurant is empty, it sends the message that it is not safe. It does not necessarily mean the place is terrible, but an empty restaurant does not guarantee a stellar experience. This is tricky because some places can’t afford to hire professionals to create the buzz. That’s why you should check all the other potential red flags and decide whether the place is worth the risk. A restaurant without guests also raises the question of how fresh the food is.

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