Dining

Chefs Reveal the Biggest Red Flags to Look For When Dining Out

You'll never look at bottomless refills the same way again
Restaurant Red Flags
Photo: Michael Browning/Unsplash

If you work in a professional kitchen, it's hard to not overanalyze every aspect of a restaurant that's not your own. And thanks to a recent AskReddit thread polling chefs, waiters and industry pros on the red flags they look for when they go out to eat, it's hard to not blame them. Let's just say that after reading these insights, you'll probably steer clear of unlimited soda refills from now on.

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 Overly Long Menus

"Massive menus. A good restaurant, specifically finer dining, will not crutch on a large menu, but will have a consistent one—maybe a page or 2. Bigger menus usually mean that some items won't get ordered as often, and will have been likely sitting, specially if they're on the menu (i.e. lower cost)." 

 Unkempt Bathrooms

"Bathroom cleanliness #1. The bathroom is like the eyes of a restaurant. If it's dirty, I have little hope for the kitchen." 

 Less-than-Lively Waiters

"Not a chef but a 15 yr server. If the servers take 10+ min to greet the table when the restaurant isn't full, it has always been a poor experience overall. It tells me nobody is managing the entire restaurant correctly. And that carries over to food."

 Dining Rooms That Aren't Spotless

"The cleanliness of the dining room, including the floors. If they aren't keeping it decently clean or sweeping the floors in the areas you are, just imagine what the areas you don't see look like." 

 Neglected Soda Fountains

"I worked as a server and occasional line cook for several years. Number 1 red flag is the spouts on the soda fountain. Those things are one of the easiest things to clean in the entire place, so if they're mildewy that kills my interest in eating there."

 A Chef You Can Hear All the Way at Your Dining Table

"My friend was a chef and he told me. . . if you can hear the chefs yelling in the kitchen, get out. If they're fighting they're messing up the food."

 A Waitstaff Who Don't Know the Menu

"For me it would be front of the house knowing the menu. A good chef will have people taste all dishes and specials through training so they can describe it to customers. If I ask a waiter or waitress what's in something or how it tastes and they go 'let me ask the kitchen,' nevermind."

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