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Eating out has certainly become more difficult thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not because the government has forbidden eating out but because everyone is more aware of the health risks.

This makes it especially important that you know how to spot the signs of a filthy restaurant. When you choose to indulge in a meal out you expect the food to be prepared to the highest possible standards. After all, you’re paying enough for it.

That’s why you need to look out for these signs and, if you see any, eat elsewhere.

1. Pest Control

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On the one hand, seeing a reputable pest control firm at a restaurant means that the staff is taking pest control seriously. In fact, you should find out more about your local firm in case you need them at home.

A visit may be simply an annual checkup. But, if they are having treatment or you spot pest traps in the corners of the restaurant, you need to take a step back and look for any of the following signs. Pest control by itself may not mean you’ve found a filthy restaurant. But combined with any of the following it will.

2. Exterior Appearance

A restaurant needs to look well cared for in order to attract people into it. A scruffy or badly kept exterior suggests the owner isn’t interested in the quality of the food, they are probably more interested in making a profit.

Of course, a focus on profit means that your restaurant owner is likely to take plenty of shortcuts. You may not even be eating what you think you’re eating!

You should also check the side alleys, overflowing bins is a bad sign and attracts pests, stay away!

3. Smells

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The only smell you should notice when entering a restaurant is that of delicious food. If you smell anything else, particularly garbage smells or greasy food, it’s time to leave.

4. Health Department Rating

All eating establishments should have a health department rating and it should be displayed clearly on the door or the walls inside the restaurant. It can also be listed n the health department website, it’s worth looking at before you step foot inside the restaurant.

Take a moment to look at it, high-ratings are good. Anything in the medium-range should be approached with caution and the low-range means run away, as fast as you can.

5. Cleanliness

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After every customer, the table should be properly cleaned, as should the menus and other items which have been handled by the previous diner. If the table, menu, or sauces feel sticky or look dirty you need to leave the filthy restaurant. If they can’t take the time to wipe the table it’s unlikely they’re following best practice inside the kitchen where your food is stored and prepared.

If the menus are worn and stained this is just as bad a sign, the lack of care carries through to everything the staff does.

6. Dirty Floors & Walls

As soon as you walk into a restaurant you’ll be able to see if the floor is clean or not. If you make it as far as your seat take a look under the table to check it’s clean. Any food debris means food hygiene standards are not being adhered to.

You may not see the dirt on the floor but notice your shoes are sticking, this is also a bad sign. Pay particular attention to the edges of the room, dirt, and debris collecting there show that the cleaning isn’t up to standard.

Don’t forget to check the walls, it’s easy to clean a table and not see a streak of sauce on the walls. If it’s dried then their cleanliness is particularly bad. Even an unnoticed streak on the wall should be removed by regular cleaning.

7. Check The Bathroom

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This is worth doing before you order. The bathroom is a great indication of how cleaning is approached by the establishment in general. The bathroom should be clean, well-stocked, and odor-free. Stained mirrors, toilet paper on the floor, a lack of paper towels, and general grime do not bode well. After all, if the bathroom, which is visible to the public, is like this, what’s the invisible kitchen like?

8. Visible Pests

It’s unlikely that you’ll see pests running around a restaurant while you’re eating. But, it’s not impossible. Take a look at the floor and skirting, you may notice a pest or holes where pests come to visit.

That should be enough to get you to leave.

9. Staff Presentation

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Your server should be clean and tidy with hair brushed or combed. This makes them look professional and enriches the feeling and experience of the restaurant. However, an unkempt server suggests a quick hire and inadequate training. If not, the restaurant has little interest in what its employees do.
Either option will leave you wondering if this is really the place you should be eating.

10. Illness

In restaurants, staff that are ill shouldn’t be working. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cold or something more serious. Servers will inadvertently breathe on food, potentially passing on disease.
If you see staff that is ill or are served by one you can request a different server but you’d be better to leave. Failing to provide sick time for staff suggests that the owner isn’t too worried about your health after you’ve paid them.

11. Something In Your Food

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If you find a hair or something else in your food then you should stop eating, complain, and leave the restaurant. There should be procedures that prevent this from happening. The fact that it has occurred suggests that procedures aren’t being followed properly which means your restaurant can be classed as filthy.

Final Thoughts

There are many other signs of a filthy restaurant, including staff not washing hands, tables being cleaned with dirty rags, and lipstick on the glasses. But the basic rule is to follow your own instincts. If you step in and are not sure about the place, then you’re better off leaving. Because it’s probably a filthy restaurant and eating it is likely to make you sick.