24 Subtle Signs That Often Signal That A Restaurant Is, In Fact, VERY Good

Life is too short for bad meals, but it can be tricky to differentiate between a great restaurant and a mediocre one. Well, redditor u/halfblood_god asked, "What are some green flags in restaurants?" Here are the tell-tale signs that a restaurant will be good, according to people who love to eat.

1."Green flag: if it's busy on a Monday night, the quietest night of the week to eat out."

The characters from "Girls" eating at a restaurant.
The characters from "Girls" eating at a restaurant.



2."When it comes to finding great food while abroad, go where English is spoken less. In Rome, instead of eating next to the tourist spots (Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, etc.), we'd walk a few blocks away to where people stopped speaking English. It took us a few days to figure it out, but now, we do this in any destination we're visiting. The food was always so much better beyond the touristy areas."


3."When it comes to Japanese restaurants, so many places have huge extensive menus. But IMO, the simpler the sushi, the better it's going to taste. The place up the block where they only serve very basic rolls has some of the best sushi I've ever tried."

Blake Shelton and Jimmy Fallon eating sushi.
Blake Shelton and Jimmy Fallon eating sushi.



4."If you see the restaurant staff eating the food, especially bits of leftovers during service. Take it from a career chef. We see and make the same food day in and day out. If the staff are still excited to eat it, that's always a great sign."


5."If you order your food and the person serving you up yells at the chef in their native language, you know the food is going to be good. I'm Indian, and this is the trick I use to differentiate between good Indian restaurants and bad ones."

A chef preparing a birria taco.
Matthew Suarez / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6."When I walk into a restaurant, I usually do a quick scan of the tables that are finishing up their meals. If they're smiling, not talking because they're too busy eating most of their plates, and seem to be enjoying themselves, I'll take it as a sign that the restaurant was a good choice."

Hannah Loewentheil

7."A clean menu and table. And also a tidy bathroom. I go to wash my hands before I order because a reasonably clean bathroom probably means a reasonably clean kitchen."

Empty chairs and tables in cafe.
Inti St Clair / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

8."I particularly love a restaurant when I ask my server for his or her opinion and get a thoughtful, sincere answer that shows they really know the food."


9."If a restaurant has a focused, one-page menu, that's usually a pretty good sign. It means their line cooks have become specialists and can usually nail all the dishes listed. Conversely, if a restaurant has a giant, multi-page menu, that's a gigantic red flag."

Alexis and Davod Rose from "Schitt's Creek" at a restaurant.
Alexis and Davod Rose from "Schitt's Creek" at a restaurant.



10."If you walk into a restaurant that serves food from a different country and most people in there — both working and dining — are from that country, in my experience that means you're about to have an awesome meal."


11."If the waitstaff knows where their seafood comes from. Ask where the oysters come from. If they know, that's a great sign. If they don’t know, you don’t want them."

Mr. Bean eating a seafood tower.
Mr. Bean eating a seafood tower.

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12."In general, I love a restaurant that doesn't allow substitutions and makes notes of that policy on the menu. It usually means the chef is confident in his/her cooking and I can really trust the menu as it is."

Hannah Loewentheil

13."If a restaurant closes two days a week. It's very rare for restaurant staff to have regular days off and a sense of routine."

Sorry we are closed sign board hanging on door of cafe.
Amstockphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."If a restaurant could squeeze in more seats and tables but has strategically chosen not to."


15."The more run down a Chinese restaurant is in terms of appearance (for example, an old menu on the wall and not many tables) tends to be where you get the best food."

People eating dim sum with chopsticks.
D3sign / Getty Images

16."A place that smells delicious when you walk in. The best restaurants I’ve ever been to have all smelt fantastic as soon a you open the door."


17."If there are people of all different ages dining in a restaurant, I take it as a good sign. All young diners means a restaurant might be overly trendy or just popular on TikTok, while a strictly elderly crowd might mean the food and/or vibe is a bit staid and sterile. But when you have people of all ages eating in the same place, that signals that the food is probably good enough to appeal to everyone."

George from "Seinfeld" putting ketchup on a burger.
George from "Seinfeld" putting ketchup on a burger.


Hannah Loewentheil

18."When a restaurant sticks to one type of cuisine. If your looking through a menu and there's a huge variety of ethnic food and other items that don't make sense, run. A menu containing pasta dishes, corn dogs, burgers, rice dishes, seafood, steaks, tacos, and finger foods? No thank you. Theres a big chance if you order the shrimp cocktail at a place like this, it's not fresh, and you're the first person to order it this week."


19."If you see a restaurant that looks unappealing in an otherwise nice looking or trendy area, the food is likely amazing. This eatery clearly doesn't care to spend money on renovations or appearances, and maybe it's because the food is usually good enough to compensate for all that."

Place setting with tulips at sidewalk cafe.
Brian Bumby / Getty Images

20."If a restaurant has servers who genuinely get excited when talking about the menu, that's a good sign. Bonus points when they recommend the dishes that are not the most expensive."


21."If they bring out GOOD, freshly baked bread, that's usually a solid sign of what else is to come."

A basket of fresh bread.
Eurngkwan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

22."For authentic food, I seek out the spot that is only open from 12–3 every alternate Thursday (or some other random, hard-to-predict hours). Those places are generally universally amazing."


23."This might sound random, but if there's a fish tank, take a look at it. If it's clean, you can bet the kitchen is, too. Restaurants stay in shape by having thorough, daily cleaning routines. Fish tanks get dirty very quickly if they're not taken care of just like kitchens do. If the fish tank (which is not vital to the functioning of the restaurant and also a pain for the employees to clean) is in good shape, it's a part of that routine. You can bet that everything else is in good shape as well."

Live prawns on display at a restaurant.
Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

24."A small and focused menu. This means a restaurant knows how to prepare their dishes consistently and the ingredients are fresh."


What do you consider to be a "red flag" or "green flag" at restaurants — something that lures you into a particular establishment or makes you walk away? Tell us in the comments.