9 Devious Ways Restaurants Try to Trick You

The restaurant industry has its fair share of problems (sexism, racism, the whole tipping vs. living wage thing), but did you know there are some other issues that bleed over into your dining experience too? That’s right, as amazing as restaurants can be, they can be guilty of trying to trick all of us. Let’s take a look.

Using The Term ‘Our Famous’

There aren’t a heck of a lot of restaurants that can use a term like this and be truthful about it. Junior’s cheesecake? Sure, it’s famous. The Anchor Bar’s buffalo wings? Absolutely. But a chain restaurant with a semi-popular menu item? Nope, definitely not famous.

Call-Out Boxes

Overwhelmingly, call-out boxes, and any bold or highlighted text will make an item appear more appealing to the consumer, despite the fact that, you guessed it – it’s highlighting one or more high-profit items. Less bang, more buck.


Descriptive adjectives, such as “melty” or “crispy” are an easy way to influence choice despite the actual meltiness or crispiness of the dish in question.

Kobe Beef Sliders

Nowadays, many restaurants sell Kobe beef sliders; this is a lie. Even if it was real Kobe beef (in which case you’d be paying hundreds of dollars for a not-large portion), because of its luxurious texture and flavor it would be a waste to serve it all ground up and smashed into a patty.

Chef’s Recommendation

This phrasing, along with “Signature dish” or “House favorite” could very well mean that they’re known for it, or it could just mean it’s another way to entice patrons into choosing a margin-rich item. When in doubt, check Yelp.

Truffle (Almost) Anything

Unless you’re at a very nice dining establishment and the dish you’re ordering is astronomically more expensive than it would be without the word “truffle,” you’re just getting truffle oil. And many truffle oils are synthesized without actually getting their flavor from real truffles.


Somewhere along the way restaurants took the absolute cheapest meal to create, threw in a mimosa, made things fancy, and got people to shell out $14 for an omelet that was created with less than $1 worth of ingredients. I may be one of the only ones to believe in this, but if it’s not a buffet, it’s not brunch – it’s just expensive weekend breakfast.

Small Plates

What’s the difference between a small plate and an appetizer? Well, the secret is that they’re the same thing, except small plates are going to be way too small of a portion (and most certainly not divisible by the actual amount of people at your table) for an unconscionably elevated price.

Hot Waitresses

Though I love their wings, I have to say that Hooters is a prime culprit here. When guys are confronted with chest-heavy ladies, somehow their wallet opens up and they buy more food and tip more than they would even on their most generous night. Sorry to say, but she’s not going to put out, no matter how smiley that smiley face on the bill is.