16 Menu Items Chefs And Waiters Say To Never Order In A Restaurant

Embarking on a culinary adventure at a restaurant can be an exciting experience, but not all menu items are created equal. In the world of dining, chefs and waiters often have insider knowledge about which dishes to avoid. Whether it’s due to freshness concerns, questionable preparation methods, or hidden pitfalls, certain menu items may leave diners disappointed or even regretful. In this guide, we’ll uncover 16 menu items that chefs and waiters advise against ordering in a restaurant. By heeding their advice, diners can make more informed choices and ensure a satisfying dining experience without any unwanted surprises.

1. Daily Specials Towards Closing Time

While daily specials can often showcase the chef’s creativity and highlight seasonal ingredients, ordering them towards the end of service can be risky. Chefs and kitchen staff may be inclined to use up ingredients that are nearing expiration, leading to dishes that may not be as fresh or well-prepared as earlier in the day.

2. Fish on Mondays

In many restaurants, Monday is not the ideal day to order fish. Since most seafood deliveries occur earlier in the week, by Monday, the fish may not be as fresh as it was when first delivered. Chefs may also be eager to use up weekend leftovers, resulting in fish dishes that lack the desired freshness and flavor.

3. Well-Done Steaks

Ordering a steak well done may seem like a safe bet for those who prefer their meat thoroughly cooked, but it can often lead to disappointment. Cooking a steak to well-done removes much of the moisture and tenderness, resulting in a dry and tough texture that may not be as enjoyable as a steak cooked to medium-rare or medium.

4. Caesar Salad with Chicken

While Caesar salad with chicken may seem like a healthy and satisfying option, it can often be a calorie-laden choice. Many restaurants dress the salad generously with creamy Caesar dressing and top it with fried or breaded chicken, adding unnecessary calories and fat. Opting for a lighter salad or grilled protein option may be a better choice for those looking to enjoy a healthier meal.

5. Sushi on Sundays

Similar to fish on Mondays, sushi on Sundays may not be the freshest option. Since many sushi restaurants are closed on Mondays, Sunday may be the last day of the week for sushi ingredients to be used up. Diners may be better off enjoying sushi earlier in the week when the fish is likely to be fresher and more flavorful.

6. Buffet Seafood

While seafood buffets may offer a tempting array of options, they can also pose food safety concerns. Buffet-style seafood dishes, such as shrimp cocktail and crab legs, may sit out for extended periods, increasing the risk of bacterial contamination and foodborne illness. Diners may want to opt for freshly prepared seafood dishes instead of those offered on buffets.

7. Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is a classic Italian-American dish beloved by many, but it can vary widely in quality depending on where it’s ordered. In some restaurants, Chicken Parmesan may be made with pre-cooked or frozen chicken patties, resulting in a less-than-authentic dining experience. Opting for other Italian classics, such as pasta dishes or wood-fired pizzas, may be a safer bet.

8. Salad Bar Items

While salad bars may offer a variety of fresh produce and toppings, they can also present sanitation concerns. Items on salad bars may be exposed to airborne contaminants and handled by multiple diners, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. Diners with compromised immune systems or food sensitivities may want to exercise caution when selecting items from salad bars.

9. Specialty Cocktails with Excessive Ingredients

While creative cocktails can add excitement to the dining experience, some specialty cocktails may go overboard with excessive ingredients and garnishes. Cocktails loaded with sugary syrups, flavored liqueurs, and elaborate garnishes may be more about presentation than taste. Opting for simpler cocktails made with high-quality spirits and fresh ingredients may result in a more enjoyable drinking experience.

10. Steak Tartare at Busy Restaurants

Steak tartare, a raw meat dish typically served with raw egg yolk and seasoning, requires meticulous preparation and handling to ensure food safety. Ordering steak tartare at a busy restaurant with high turnover may increase the risk of cross-contamination and bacterial contamination. Diners may want to opt for steak tartare at establishments known for their attention to detail and food safety protocols.

11. Guacamole at Chain Restaurants

Guacamole is a beloved Mexican staple made with ripe avocados, lime juice, onions, and cilantro. However, at chain restaurants, guacamole may be pre-made in large batches or contain added preservatives and fillers to prolong shelf life. Diners craving fresh and authentic guacamole may be better off visiting a local Mexican restaurant or making it at home.

12. Anything Too Spicy

While spicy dishes can add excitement to the dining experience, they may not be suitable for everyone’s palate. Dishes labeled as “extra spicy” or “hot” may be too intense for some diners, leading to discomfort or gastrointestinal issues. Diners with sensitive stomachs or dietary restrictions may want to inquire about the spiciness level of dishes before ordering.

13. Oysters in Months without the Letter “R”

An old adage advises against consuming oysters in months without the letter “R” (May through August) due to concerns about red tide and warmer water temperatures. While modern refrigeration and food safety practices have mitigated some of these concerns, diners may still want to exercise caution when consuming raw oysters during the warmer months.

14. All-You-Can-Eat Crab Legs

While all-you-can-eat crab legs may seem like a seafood lover’s dream, they can also pose food safety concerns. Crab legs may sit out for extended periods on buffet lines, increasing the risk of bacterial contamination and foodborne illness. Diners may want to opt for freshly prepared crab dishes or order crab legs from reputable seafood restaurants.

15. Fried Seafood Platters

Fried seafood platters are a popular choice at many seafood restaurants, but they can also be a calorie-laden and unhealthy option. These platters typically include fried fish, shrimp, and other seafood items, all of which are coated in batter and deep-fried. Diners looking for a lighter and healthier option may want to opt for grilled or broiled seafood dishes instead.

16. Steakhouse Salads

While steakhouse salads may seem like a lighter option compared to steaks and burgers, they can often be deceptive in terms of calorie and fat content. Many steakhouse salads are loaded with high-calorie toppings like cheese, bacon, and creamy dressings, making them just as indulgent as other menu items. Diners looking to enjoy a salad may want to opt for lighter dressings and fewer toppings to keep the calorie count in check.


In conclusion, listening to the advice of chefs and waiters can help diners avoid potential pitfalls and enjoy a more satisfying dining experience. By steering clear of menu items with freshness concerns, questionable preparation methods, or hidden pitfalls, diners can make informed choices and dine with confidence. Whether it’s avoiding daily specials towards closing time or opting for simpler dishes with high-quality ingredients, being mindful of these recommendations can lead to a more enjoyable meal. So, next time you’re dining out, consider the advice of those in the know and make choices that will leave you feeling satisfied and content.


FAQ 1: Why do chefs and waiters advise against certain menu items?

Chefs and waiters may advise against certain menu items due to concerns about freshness, quality, or preparation methods. They often have insider knowledge about how dishes are prepared and may caution against ordering items that are unlikely to meet diners’ expectations.

FAQ 2: How can diners make informed choices when dining out?

Diners can make informed choices when dining out by asking questions about menu items, reading reviews from other diners, and considering the recommendations of chefs and waiters. By being mindful of potential pitfalls and avoiding menu items with known issues, diners can enjoy a more satisfying dining experience.

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