Top Signs that a Restaurant is Not Clean Enough to Eat At

10. One sign of of a bad restaurant is when the “fresh” food isn’t in season. You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed vegan or vegetarian… Trista - June 10, 2021

10. One sign of of a bad restaurant is when the “fresh” food isn’t in season.

You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed vegan or vegetarian who only eats food that came straight from the farm to your table cuisine to expect a certain level of freshness for your food. Similar to the idea of mystery meat, most people usually want to know where their food is coming from. So when something that is not in season is appearing on the menu, you begin to question just how fresh it is because chances are it probably isn’t in that case. 

If something is on the menu that isn’t in season, that can be a sure sign that you are not at a good restaurant. Unless you are at a high-end restaurant where you know, without having any doubts, that the fresh fruit or vegetables are flown in daily straight from Southern California, chances are the food you’re eating is not the freshest nor the healthiest. So maybe it’s a good idea to think twice before eating someplace that serves food out of season. 


9. Don’t eat somewhere if the kitchen is about to close.

If you want to have a late-night meal somewhere, you may want to rethink going out to a restaurant. Chances are, if it is late, the kitchen is about to close, and that means you may want to skip that meal there. The reason being for this is that the food you order has likely been prepped earlier. Who knows how it was stored, or if it was just sitting in a pan. 

The truth is that you probably won’t have the best entree you were hoping for. Furthermore, the workers at the restaurant might not be the most eager to treat you to an enjoyable meal. They are ready to go home. Even worse, the server may be in a poor mood because you are keeping them. If you are hungry and want a bite to eat, the best bet is to whip something up in your own kitchen. That way, yu can avoid the hassle of eating old food and dealing with staff in less than cheery moods.


8. You know the restaurant isn’t clean enough if the tables aren’t being cleared and bussed.

Would you want to sit next to a pile of someone else’s mess, as their dirty dishes, for instance? Not many people probably would. It doesn’t make a difference if people are waiting for that table or not; it should be cleared. People trying to enjoy their meals would want to see a bus person swoop in on that dirty table within a minute of the party leaving. If the bus person is too busy or occupied with another clean-up, another employee should come over to help clear the table. 

Not only should the table be cleared off and wiped down, but a quick sweep under and around the table with a broom is also usually necessary, especially if children were eating there, as well. Not only that but condiments such as the salt and pepper shakers should be quickly wiped down, too. If you were at home and just had a family meal, would you clean up the mess at the dinner table right away or let it sit and be a sight for sore eyes? So why would you want to look at someone else’s mess while you’re trying to enjoy your meal?


7. Is the staff distracted or miserable? Eat somewhere else.

Everyone in the service industry has had their fair share of shifts where they were not in the mood to give people service with a smile. It happens. However, those who are seasoned in the industry know how to fake a smile. They can rely on their coworkers to give them a hand and get them through the shift as best they can. However, when you happen to notice that the entire staff seems like they would much rather prefer to be somewhere else.

Alternatively, they seem to be more interested in their own drama and socializing than helping you out with refilling your beverage glass or responding to your waving hand towards them. It’s a pretty sure sign that the restaurant may be going downhill fast. Moreover, think about it: if the staff has mentally checked out, there’s a good chance that the management has as well. There are many reasons why the team may be miserable at their job. Do you want to stay at that restaurant and find out why for yourselves?


6. You should avoid restaurants where the kitchen or server is making more than one mistake.

We are human, and humans all make mistakes now and again. So one minor mistake by the kitchen or your server isn’t anything to get all worked up about. However, consistent inaccuracies or errors that are not quickly and pleasantly corrected are signs that you probably shouldn’t be eating in that restaurant. Some errors that should never happen include the server or staff delivering you something different than what you ordered. (And then insist on it being you who made the mistake). Alternatively, even getting the wrong table’s food delivered to yours, especially if you are on a diet

You should pay attention if your meat is cooked improperly. Also, if the food has been sitting too long under the heat lamps. Receiving cold food is also a red flag. In some cases, a server could even forget to input your entire order to the kitchen. These are just a few other things that you should not overlook. It’s obviously up to you how you handle the situation when multiple mistakes are made in one visit, though. If the server isn’t nice enough to offer you something to make up for your bad experience, it’s best to ask for a manager. Be polite but also clear about your meal’s shortcomings. 


5. It’s never good to feel rushed while eating.

When going to a restaurant, you want to relax and enjoy your meal, but when you feel like you are being rushed out the door, it’s not a very enjoyable experience. It can feel exactly like you are being rushed when your entrees arrive at your table just minutes after you have received your appetizers. Good servers know to time the orders going into the kitchen accordingly so this does not happen to their customers. 

Someone shared their story about this exact thing happening to them. This person and some of the friends, who were all former servers, specifically asked their waiter to hold off on “firing” their entrees until they had time to enjoy their apps. However, less than 5 minutes after receiving their apps, their burgers were brought out. When asked to send them back and bring them fresh ones after they were done with their appetizers, the waiter tried to argue with them about just taking the old, old burgers. Needless to say, it’ll be a long time before they eat there again


4. If servers seem to want you to leave, maybe you should.

There are legitimate reasons as to why your server will drop your check off early in your meal. Maybe you are seated at a busy sidewalk cafe, and that’s their policy to avoid dine and dashers. Alternatively, perhaps you are eating at a busy bar, where the updated check is kept in front of you at all times. That way, in case you need to leave in a hurry, for whatever reason. However, in some sad instances, it could just mean that your server doesn’t want to deal with you anymore.

If a server is getting ready to end their shift, for example, between lunch and dinner, they really should either wait it out until your meal is finished or let another server finish your table for them. It’s not always the server, in any case. Sometimes it’s the kitchen staff. They could be bullying a server into getting a table to leave. Why? Because the kitchen staff can all go home for the night. Is a server being rude or pushy about trying to get you out the door in a hurry? That’s a sure sign that the restaurant’s management is not keeping a good eye on what is happening.


3. Great service doesn’t mean much if the food is terrible.

Although excellent service can make up for a lot, nothing will make you return to a restaurant if the food is truly terrible, right? A few things to look out for would be flowery menu descriptions that do not accurately describe what you actually get served, as well as cheap ingredients being subbed in for more expensive items. You will likely spot inconsistencies with food quality and portion sizes if the kitchen is being run poorly. So keep an eye out for these things. 

Unfortunately, once great restaurants can go downhill, particularly if they lose the chef or key kitchen staff they once had. Even having money troubles can cause a restaurant to go downhill with its service and menu. Some think if they serve cheaper bread and butter or cut down on the size of alcoholic beverages, the customers will not notice. However, they are just fooling themselves. Because guests of that restaurant will surely notice; it may be a little harder to see if you’ve never been there before, but regulars will, for sure. 


2. Avoid those sticky floors.

Like restaurants, you also want to keep an eye out for the cleanliness of a bar. Although cleanliness is a given, it can sometimes be tough to tell just how thorough the staff is there. An assistant manager at Berkhamsted Porters Restaurant, James Farley, says you can look at how dirty or sticky the floors are to gauge the staff’s dedication to cleaning, especially if you are stopping by for lunch. 

A sure sign that someone is not doing their job is for there to be a sticky floor in the afternoon, and it could be an indicator of more significant problems going on behind the scenes. “That shows the cleaning is not up to scratch, so then I wonder how clean the lines are,” says James. The floor is one of the most basic and easiest things that should be kept clean and presentable. So if you are sticking to it when you are stopping by for a quick pub lunch, you are better off heading right back out the door and going somewhere else with non-sticky floors. 


1. Bars are no different.

There is a surprisingly easy way to check how much effort goes into keeping a place clean. Marko Mihajlovic, a TourMakers tour director, says you should check to see if there is dirt and dust accumulated on signs indoors and top of light fixtures. “This is usually a very tiny problem; it requires minimal effort to fix, a lot of time to accumulate, and it is so obvious, yet no one took to it,” says Marko.  

Whether you are in a restaurant that is high class or in a bar just to have a few drinks and visit with people, this shouldn’t be acceptable. It is an indicator of neglect in the establishment and neglect that has gone on over a long period. It’s also an inattention to detail bound to extend to other parts of the bar and restaurant that you may not even be thinking about or even want to know at that point, honestly.