18 Red Flags To Look Out For When Dining at a Restaurant 

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and realized something was off? There are definite red flags to look out for when dining out that can help you avoid a subpar meal. The following are eighteen warning signs to keep an eye out for when dining out. 

1. The Staff Can't Answer Any Questions

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One of the telltale signs that you probably aren't going to enjoy your dinner at a restaurant is the attitude of the staff. If they seem uninterested or can't answer questions about the menu or the food, that's a major red flag. A knowledgeable and engaged staff is crucial to a good dining experience. 

2. The Parking Lot is Dirty

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The parking lot is the first part of the restaurant that many customers will notice. If the parking lot of a restaurant is dirty or unkempt, it might be a sign that the restaurant doesn't prioritize cleanliness. This could, unfortunately, extend to the kitchen. 

3. There Aren't Any Customers

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If a restaurant is busy, that's usually a good sign that the food or the service is up to par. If a restaurant is empty, that's a red flag that others have eaten there and discovered the restaurant's shortcomings.

4. The Music Can Be Heard From The Street

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Many restaurants have music playing in the background that adds to the ambiance of the room. But, if you can hear the music blaring from the street, it's definitely too loud for comfort inside the restaurant, and it would be impossible to have any conversation over dinner. 

5. All The Reviews Are By Influencers 

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Influencers are definitely helpful for discovering new places to eat. But if the reviews of a restaurant are only influencers, that's a red flag. Businesses should have organic customer reviews, so if that isn't the case, you don't want to eat there.

6. There Are Several Out-Of-Season Ingredients On The Menu

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The finest restaurants typically prioritize using the freshest ingredients. If you notice the menu offering dishes with several out-of-season ingredients, that could be a sign that the meals aren't the best quality. 

7. The Building Needs Repairs 

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How the building is being taken care of clearly indicates what to expect from a restaurant. If the restaurant's building is old, has a faded paint job, or needs repairs, that could be a sign that they're cutting corners elsewhere. 

8. The AC Vents Are Dirty 

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The AC vents aren't something you would typically look out for when dining at a restaurant. But these will give you an idea of whether the business prioritizes cleanliness. What else are they forgetting to clean if they aren't cleaning the vents?

9. The Prices Are Oddly Low 

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The price point of a restaurant will give you a good idea of the quality of the ingredients and the preparation of the food. If the prices of a restaurant are too good to be true for the meals listed on the menu, they probably are. 

10. The Customers Are Mostly Tourists 

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If you enter a restaurant and notice that the customers are mostly tourists, that's a red flag. Unless it's located in an area that specifically appeals to tourists, a good restaurant will appeal to the locals of an area and have regular customers. 

11. The Menu is Really Long 

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It might seem like a long menu is good because you have several options, but a long menu is actually a red flag. If a restaurant offers too many dishes, it's likely that they're using pre-made or frozen ingredients or are producing subpar dishes to satisfy all their customers' requests. 

12. The Bathroom is Dirty 

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Any quality restaurant will ensure their customers have a clean restroom. If they can't meet this basic standard, it's a sign that they might not prioritize hygiene in other business areas, including the kitchen.

13. The Isn't a Smell of Food Being Cooked 

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The amora of delicious food being prepared should be one of the first things you notice when walking into a restaurant. If you don't smell anything coming from the kitchen at a restaurant, that's a bad sign.

14. The Servers Make Several Errors 

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If the servers make several mistakes while you're having your meal, that's a red flag. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but if your server consistently gets things wrong – forgetting your order, bringing out the wrong dishes, etc. – it could be a sign of larger issues in the restaurant's service.

15. The Menus Are Old and Disheveled 

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Old and disheveled menus are another definite warning sign at a restaurant. Any quality restaurant will take pride in every small detail of the customer experience. If the menus are dirty, torn, or otherwise in poor condition, it could be a sign that the restaurant isn't paying attention to the details that matter.

16. Diners Are Unimpressed With Their Meals 

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One way to gauge the quality of the meals at a restaurant before ordering is by looking around at the other customers. If the people around you seem underwhelmed or uninterested in their meals, that's a good indication you might not enjoy it either. 

17. There Are Uncleared Tables 

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If you're dining at a restaurant and notice several uncleared tables around the room, that's a red flag. A restaurant that can't keep up with clearing tables will likely struggle to keep up with other basic tasks. 

18. The Portion Sizes Are Massive 

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Massive portion sizes might seem like a good thing to some people, but the truth is oversized portions are a red flag. This could be used as a gimmick to attract and distract customers from the lackluster flavors of the food. 


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She started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, which was freedom, so she decided to venture out. She took action so that she can live her dream life and decided to help people to live theirs by helping them how to save, budget, and invest.

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