We’ve all been there, standing outside a restaurant, trying to figure out if it’s going to be any good. We all know that you can’t judge a book by its cover but without even trying the food, there are a host of ways to tell if the restaurant you’ve chosen to spend your hard-earned money at is worth it. We’ve rounded up 11 common-sense approaches to figure out if you’re dining somewhere that’s actually decent.
While sussing out a restaurant that we’re not familiar with, there’s a mental checklist we go through, sometimes subconsciously, before setting foot inside. First we look at the signage and overall exterior design: is it new and sleek or old, outdated, and rusty? Oftentimes, these are no indicator of how the food will be (a restaurant that hasn’t changed in 30 years is a rarity and could be a local gem, while the shiny new place could be a total DOA dud), but they certainly say something about the overall type of restaurant. If there’s a menu on display, we’ll peruse it and see if it’s in our price range and if any dishes sound like something we’d typically order. Finally, we might take a peek inside to see if there’s anyone else dining in there, because nobody wants to be the only people in a restaurant.