Restaurant red flags: 7 signs you’re about to eat at a bad restaurant

Nov 10 2021, 9:58 pm
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When you go out to eat, what are the things you look out for? 

I bet you’re saying to yourself, “Do I really look out for anything like that? Don’t think so.”

If that’s your thought right now, you can find comfort in the fact you’re not alone. Most people don’t take the time to inspect the restaurants they eat at. 

Unfortunately, that’s a terrible habit. Not inspecting a place you eat is like marrying someone without taking the time to know them.

In order not to continue risking your health, we implore you to look out for the following red flags the next time you’re about to step into a restaurant to eat.

If a restaurant has a huge menu… it likely serves frozen foods

Having a huge menu is an absolute red flag. 

It simply means they’ve made some of the foods hours earlier and simply kept them locked in the freezer. 

In case you didn’t know, frozen foods are bad for our health. They’re known to increase the risk of getting heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, amongst other health diseases.

To find restaurants that serve fresh meals near you, always use the Nice Local app like I did with this search.

If a restaurant tells you their grade is pending… it’s likely because they’ve had a below-par grade in the past

If you’re lucky to live in a province where restaurants are awarded health inspection grades, you can easily tell a good restaurant from a bad one or a below-par one.

You simply look at their health inspection grades.

But as you might expect, restaurants with bad or below-par grades have a way of cheating the system. They simply hang on their walls a tag that reads, ‘Grade Pending,’ so as to make customers believe they’re awaiting their grade. 

Don’t be fooled, my friend. ‘Grade Pending’ doesn’t mean they’re awaiting their grade; it only means that they got a bad or below-par grade, contested it, and were given a grace period to fix things.

If a restaurant can’t tell you where their seafood comes from… Don’t eat there

Trustworthy seafood restaurants are always happy to share with customers the sources of their supplies. If a restaurant can’t beat its chest to tell you where its seafood is coming from, then I’m afraid you can’t eat there.

Dirty or untidy surroundings

I know you probably don’t pay too much attention to a restaurant’s car park but think about it; if the car park is dirty or untidy, what would the kitchen (which customers can’t see) look like?

The same can be said of a restaurant’s windows, dumpsters, doors, etc. If you walk out of your car and step on a floor littered with rubbish, you don’t need to be told the restaurant isn’t health-conscious.

A health-conscious restaurant will put cleanliness at the forefront of its operations, starting from its surroundings down to its kitchen.

The staff seem uninterested 

The moment you walk into a restaurant, the staff are supposed to welcome you with a smile and make your experience worthwhile for all the time you’re there.

The minute you step in and the staff appears not to be happy to see you — like they’ve been forced to receive you, just know you’re in for a regrettable meal.

Of course, it’s not uncommon to find a member of the staff looking distressed or unhappy. But the moment you sense the feeling with everyone, please just take your leave.

Bulk of their reviews come from influencers 

Some influencers are paid to tell stories about places they’ve never been, things they’ve never seen, and experiences they’ve never had.

An influencer can call a restaurant the best place they’ve ever eaten even though they’ve never been in the city, let alone visit the restaurant before.

If you look up the online reviews of a restaurant and find that it’s filled with reviews from influencers, just know that that restaurant is probably not as great as the hype suggests.

Everyone is a tourist

The last place you want to sit down to eat is a restaurant filled with tourists. Why? Because people there are probably just there because it’s the closest restaurant to a tourist attraction.

If you want the best food, go to where the locals are. If you find a restaurant crawling with locals, it’s most likely because the restaurant is one with a solid reputation. When a restaurant is less than impressive, the locals are always the first to bad-mouth it.

The restaurant smells bad

A friend once told me, “If a seafood restaurant smells of fish, just walk away.”

Do you know where they’re coming from? Well, in their opinion, even a seafood restaurant should be so clean that you can hardly perceive the smell of a fish.

In a similar vein, just walk away when you walk into a restaurant and the whole place smells horrible or has some noticeable stench.

Dirty bathroom

Although you’re not there to use the restroom, a glance at the bathroom can give you insights into how much effort the restaurant puts into cleanliness.

If you find a bathroom or toilet that’s not properly maintained, it could only mean that the restaurant staff has neglected the area. And if they have, who knows how many of their other tasks they’ve neglected, too.

Messy kitchen

Most restaurants will always shut their kitchen door. However, if you’re lucky to have a chance to spy on the kitchen, don’t hesitate to take it.

Taking a glance can help you see how orderly or messy their kitchen looks. And this can even help you decide whether to eat at the place or not.


Eating out comes with so many health risks. Mitigate these risks by finding the best restaurants near you to dine at.

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