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The parking lot and soda fountain can be two clear signs of a restaurant's quality.

Elisabeth Sherman
June 20, 2018

Eating out at a restaurant you love is usually an experience to treasure. Usually. There are, of course, some risks involved with dining out. Are the chefs following proper hygiene protocol? Does the staff clean up properly after dinner service?

For people who don’t work in the restaurant industry, the signs of a low-quality restaurant aren’t always clear (unless the place is clearly dirty or smells foul—that should be obvious to everyone). A recent Reddit thread asked chefs and other restaurant workers to illuminate what red flags diners should be aware of when going out to eat.

You’ve been warned: Some of these might gross you out. At least you’re finding out now, before you’ve ordered your entrée.

Here are the 10 biggest red flags:

  • Massive menus. “A good restaurant will have a consistent menu…maybe a page or two.”
  • Food coming out cold or dry. “You know they kept those until someone ordered it.”
  • Alternatively, an extremely hot plate. “Your order has been sitting in the window for an extended period of time. Meaning it’s already pretty dried out and the cooks aren’t cooking to order.”
  • Dirty spouts on the soda fountain. “Those things are one of the easiest things to clean in the entire place, so if they're mildew-y that kills my interest in eating.”
  • Empty parking lots at peak times.
     
  • Fighting among the staff. “If you can hear the chefs yelling in the kitchen, get out.”
     
  • “Flies. Anywhere in the restaurant.”
     
  • Fish on the Sunday brunch menu. “It got there Thursday, and they are trying to get rid of it before it spoils.

  • Front of the house should know the menu. “If I ask a waiter or waitress what's in something or how it tastes and they go ‘Let me ask the kitchen,’ nevermind. I'm good.”
     
  • Slow service. “If the servers take 10 minutes to greet the table when the restaurant isn't full, it has already been a poor experience overall.”

Reddit posts have been edited for length and clarity.