If you add up all of the steakhouse experiences you’ve had so far in your life, you’ll probably be looking a mixed bag. Hopefully you know what it’s like to walk out of a steakhouse feeling totally satisfied with virtually every aspect of the experience (and if you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing). But you probably also know what it’s like to walk out feeling apathetic or even annoyed at the steakhouse itself. Why? Because it fell short of the mark in so many important ways.

Whether you’re planning another steakhouse outing soon or just curious for future reference, here are five things you definitely want to avoid in a steakhouse. Your time and money is worth more than this!

1. Negative reviews

One or two negative reviews can be chalked up to different tastes, or perhaps someone was just having a bad day. But if you see a pattern of complaints against a steakhouse on popular sites like Google and Facebook, there are fundamental service/quality issues that need to be addressed.

2. Dirty interiors

No quality steakhouse is going to forget the importance of a clean, inviting atmosphere. If corners are being cut here, they’re probably being cut in the kitchen as well. Look at the atmosphere and ambiance of a steakhouse as a reflection of the overall quality they deliver.

3. Few customers

Every steakhouse has slow days, but if there are routinely more open tables than filled ones, it could be that customers are steering clear for good reason. Even an empty steakhouse deserves a chance — but building a reputation of quality is something that takes time.

4. Clueless waitstaff

When you ask your waiter about the different steaks and sides on the menu, and when the answers are clear and informed, you know you’re in a steakhouse that takes the trade seriously. On the other hand, if your waiter doesn’t know much about steaks, how serious can that steakhouse really be?

5. Low quality steak!

This is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? A steakhouse can have all the other elements in place, but if the steak itself isn’t tender, juicy, finished to perfect and served just as ordered, your time and money is better spent elsewhere.

In search of a quality steak

When you look at the average cost of a good steak dinner, even if it’s just for one or two people, you start to realize that a little research is worth it. There are many steakhouses out there who charge the same prices as high quality establishments, but really don’t deliver where it counts. But if you’re going to pay good money (and spend your valuable time) at a steakhouse, you want the service and food to measure up.

Avoid these five traits when you go looking for a steakhouse, focusing instead on places that have consistently good reviews, comfortable and clean atmospheres, plenty of regular clientele, waitstaff who know there stuff, and high quality steaks from documented sources. When you find an establishment that checks all of these boxes, you may have just found your new favorite steakhouse.