What’s the best way to get a table at a busy restaurant (without resorting to bribery) that might technically be fully booked? Here’s Lifehacker’s advice:
- Go during a big event or on a rainy day. If you’re willing to miss out on the Game of Thrones finale or the Super Bowl, you should visit a restaurant during a major televised event; there’s a better chance you’ll wrangle a table when everyone’s at home, assuming you aren’t headed to a sports bar or anywhere else with HD televisions. Try a busy restaurant during any big game, awards show or even the occasional Presidential debate. The same goes for rainy days. It’s likely some parties will cancel their reservation to get out of the rain, which means you can swoop in and take that table.
- If you rely on booking websites, call instead. If you tend to rely on OpenTable to book tables, here’s why you shouldn’t take some restaurants’ online seating availability at face value: They don’t always show the full picture. Always attempt to call a restaurant even if it’s booked online.
- Come at the right time. Here’s a piece of (obvious) advice for those looking to grab a table at that trendy restaurant: Don’t come at rush-hour. This means avoiding the 7 to 9 p.m. seatings entirely. If it’s a restaurant you’re desperate to try—and you’re willing to eat an early dinner—grab a reservation during the first seating around 5 or 6 p.m., when there are likely more openings. And if you’re meeting a group of friends, agree to meet 10 minutes to the hour, as we’ve written about before. If you arrive at 6:50, you’ll beat out other groups who agreed to meet on the hour and may not be seated until the party is complete.
- Make some concessions to the host. If you’re hovering near the host stand and desperate for a table, it helps to make some concessions. This means not being picky about an inside table versus an outside one or being sat at the bar—wherever might offer the soonest availability with the least resistance from the host. It also means offering to wrap your meal up as quickly as possible.