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How to Write a Restaurant Review (10 Tips Plus Examples)

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.

Learn how to write an effective restaurant review.

Learn how to write an effective restaurant review.

Writing a restaurant review is a great way to share your excitement about a favorite restaurant—or warn potential diners about a particularly disappointing experience. While some people write for fun, others are professionals who are paid to produce reviews.

When people are looking for a restaurant to try, online reviews are often an important deciding factor. The better the reviews, the higher the chance they will book a seat in that restaurant.

Not all reviews are created equal, however. People are smart and can easily distinguish between a genuine review with real information and a brief missive written by someone who may not have actually visited the establishment in question.

You can’t fool people by dashing off a few generic words of praise (e.g., “Loved it!”, “Will definitely go again!", or “Best night ever!”). People don't put any stock in these types of reviews because they feel bland and untrustworthy. Details and specifics are what readers find helpful.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the steps to write an effective restaurant review.

Readers are looking for details and specifics.

Readers are looking for details and specifics.

1. Do Background Research

  • Find out how the restaurant markets itself to its target audience. This will help you evaluate their success with respect to their goals.

2. Build a Chronological Narrative

  • When writing your review, describe your experience with a chronological structure. Start with when you entered the restaurant and proceed through to when you departed.
  • Use complete sentences, descriptive phrases, and specific details.

3. Include Restaurant Information

  • Include information about the cuisine, price range, location, operating hours, and contact information.
  • Do they serve alcohol? Do they allow smoking?
  • Do they accept reservations? If not, how long is the typical wait?
  • Do they offer any live music or entertainment?
  • Is the restaurant suitable for families, children, large groups, etc.? Or is it more intimate and romantic, suitable mainly for couples?

4. Set Your Evaluation Criteria

  • Clarify which criteria you will be using to evaluate the restaurant. Since you may be writing multiple reviews, it's important to consider this question ahead of time.
  • Evaluation criteria could include (but are not limited to): quality of the food, service, interior and exterior design, ambiance, cleanliness, and value for money.
Be a customer, not a reviewer.

Be a customer, not a reviewer.

5. Be a Customer, Not a Reviewer

  • In order to ensure that your experience of the place is genuine, don’t tell the staff that you are there as a reviewer. If they know this, they may behave differently than they would otherwise.
  • For your review to have credibility, it must reflect an experience that any customer might have. If you do a good job of establishing credibility, readers will seek out your reviews of other restaurants, as well.

6. Include Both Pros and Cons

  • Even Michelin-starred restaurants have their drawbacks. No place is perfect!
  • Carry a notebook or use your smartphone to jot down details, even those that might not seem important, like the color of the plates, how the food is presented, etc. Small details are important in helping readers visualize the whole dining experience.

7. Discuss Only What You Sampled

  • While discussing the food, limit yourself to the food and drink you actually tried.
  • You can mention other cuisines that might be offered by the restaurant, as well, but don't attempt to provide an exhaustive list of every dish.

8. Be Clear, Fair, and Honest

  • This should go without saying, but it's very important that your review be fair and honest. Remember that your review has the power to persuade people whether or not to go to this restaurant.
  • If your review is negative, be sure to maintain a high level of professionalism. It doesn't help your credibility if you sound ranty.
  • If you think the restaurant overlooked certain details, you may certainly mention it as a word of caution, but don’t belabor the point.

9. Proofread and Edit

  • Even professional writers need editors and proofreaders! Read your review twice, even three times—and make sure it's error-free. Ask a friend or colleague to read it through for you, as well. Another pair of eyes is always helpful.
  • Reviews should be clear and well written. If the person you asked to proofread it thinks it needs more work, take the time to polish it up.

10. Close With Your Recommendation

  • Finish your review by providing your concise recommendation. Thumbs up or down?
  • Your last line should be a call to action. Make sure it’s effective.
Your rating can have a big impact. Consider it carefully.

Your rating can have a big impact. Consider it carefully.

What Do the Star Ratings Mean?

Some writers get confused by whether to choose three or four stars for an above-average restaurant with excellent food. Here is an explanation of what all five ratings mean.

  • 1 star = Poor. There’s nothing good about the restaurant. You won't be returning.
  • 2 stars = Okay. The restaurant has one or two good qualities. It might be a delicious dish, helpful staff, or an inviting atmosphere. Still, you have no interest in visiting again.
  • 3 stars = Good. A fine example of a specific kind of restaurant. It can be delicious food with excellent service. You may think about returning if you wish to have that particular cuisine.
  • 4 stars = Excellent. Delicious food, appealing atmosphere, helpful staff, and brilliant service.
  • 5 stars = Extraordinary. Meets an elite standard by which you judge all other restaurants. The staff is always ready to help, the premises are extremely clean, the atmosphere is lovely, and the food is both delicious and beautifully presented.

Example Review #1

Name of restaurant: XX

Date of visit: XX

Star rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

I experienced a delicious main course and caring staff—but pity about the French fries.

I visited for lunch with a friend. We were delighted by the authentic South Indian main course. The spices and flavors were extremely impressive for a vegetarian restaurant.

The service was above average, but the French fries were too unpalatable to finish.

When we arrived at 2:00 p.m., we were told to wait for 10 minutes while they prepared the table. We hadn't made a reservation, but the restaurant was only half full. There was no good reason to make us wait.

We ordered French fries as a side dish. They looked tasty, but we discovered they were undercooked and too oily. We left most of them untouched. For $15, the quality should have been much higher.

When the waiter visited our table and asked if something was wrong, we explained that we didn’t like the French fries. He was apologetic and said, “We’re sorry for your experience with the French fries; we hope you liked the main course." We said yes we had. He was sympathetic and offered us a discount on the price of the French fries.

We left a tip on the table and exited the restaurant with a smile.

Overall, I enjoyed our experience. They did take the time to make the table ready, the main course was good, the staff was caring, but the French fries were awful.

I’d love to visit again. I'd recommend it as a nice place to go with friends, family, or a partner. Do try their famous masala dosa.

A well-written review should reflect upon all aspects of the dining experience.

A well-written review should reflect upon all aspects of the dining experience.

Example Review #2

Name of restaurant: XX

Date of review: XX

Star rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

This restaurant is situated in the heart of a semi-urban area near a motorsports academy. It is a favorite hangout for motorsports lovers.

The decor is a stunning mix of vintage sports cars, luxury, and modernity. Every table provides a clear view of the chef working in the kitchen. Diners without reservation are invited to wait in a beautifully decorated lounge with comfortable armchairs and thematic artwork.

The menu offers a wide variety of delicious and mouthwatering starters and main courses that will appeal to youngsters and adults alike. I had smoked salmon with horseradish cream, as well as prawns and lime vinaigrette. My friend tried the triple cheese and tarragon-stuffed mushrooms. They were all exquisite. The main course included a fantastic veggie shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash and creamy courgette lasagne. It was all followed by a savory apple pie with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Everything we ate was fresh and delicious. The award-winning chefs use the best quality ingredients to produce dishes that are simply delightful. The restaurant also offers a wonderful drink menu, and they offer one of the best wines in the region. The drinks are pricey but surely worth sampling.

In contrast, however, the service was not of the highest quality. It seemed to me that the waiters were not very engaged or interested in their jobs. But the owner seemed very warm and thoughtful. He came around to check on our experience and seemed to be authentically engaged.

Notwithstanding the disinterested waters, I highly recommend this restaurant. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is brilliant.

Additional Tips

  • Writing style: Use an informal and accessible writing style.
  • Title: Craft a title that conveys your main idea/opinion.
  • Level of detail: Details are important, but you don't need to write about every single little thing. Focus on the important parts of your experience
  • Pros and cons: Include both the good and the bad. It boosts your credibility to note both aspects.

Writing a restaurant review requires clarity and honesty. Readers are relying on you to give them a view into what a particular establishment is like, so it's a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly. Armed with all of these tips, however, you are now ready to write an effective and successful restaurant review!

Questions & Answers

Question: What are the weaknesses of the Motto House restaurant?

Answer: It can be anything related to staff, parking lot, environment, surroundings, prices, cleanliness or anything else that made you little less confident in visiting the restaurant the next time. Or is the food here better or worse than the other places you can think of?

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


Sunmist restaurant Elmhurst Illinois on August 28, 2020:

Sunmist restaurant Elmhurst Illinois I was just at A restaurant called Sunmist when we Walked in our greeter didn’t have her mask on properly and as soon as she sat as she took it off, then our waitress came over and she was very pleasant and her face was totally covered, there was another waitress and she had her mask the same way as our greeter did so my sister asked shouldn’t they be wearing their mask properly and the other waitress totally flipped out on us and told us to leave if I didn’t like it, we had just received our meal and she screamed at us and said you put your Mask on or leave, I just thought it was very unappropriate for her to scream at us when we were just simply asking a question we thought that we were being safe inside wearing our masks until our meals came, then she proceeded to go back and tell other waitresses with her mask off again that we were being obnoxious I’m sorry but I don’t think we’re being obnoxious we simply were asking a question to our waitress not her and she started screaming at us I will never go to that restaurant again they are not following safety protocol for being open for business.

Pratibha goel on March 16, 2020:

I took screenshots..i ll read it later, but i am sure u covered it all so perfectly..thankyou

Dosyentra Rao on February 17, 2020:

This article is very helpful for me. Thanks for information..I hope it will make score A in English Exam

Honey bear cafe on February 09, 2020:

Great welcome in Roger park excellent great good great service good atmosphere what else you want ,one the best rest on Clark ,must try congratulations to the new owner great job

Moes Grill at the Boulevard, Banbridge on December 29, 2019:

Myself and my Husband had a meal here yesterday, the starters were fine but the main courses were rotten, I had the Turkey and Ham the ham was like rubber and the potatoes were sour and the Veg tasted off, we had to wait for an hour for our main course, I could not eat mine, plus it cost 40 pounds which was very expensive, to finish it off the Bathroom floor was covered in Piss that was very nasty to have to walk through. Won’t be going here again.

nuhammadjon on October 14, 2019:

extremely important tips that i really need

Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on July 10, 2019:

Yes mactavers, the site has amazing reviews. When I received my first review writing task, TripAdvisor was very helpful.

mactavers on July 10, 2019:

Sites like Trip Advisor are a good place to start with reviews of restaurants, hotels and places. Look at the questions and format that they use and you have a starting place.