Having lived in most of the major cities in the US, and even some major ones in Europe, I have always enjoyed dining at the top restaurants those cities had to offer. It struck me that, while I have never had a problem getting into restaurants I love, my friends have not been as lucky. Sometimes it was through my connections that I was able to get a table, but most times it was just through smart planning. Here are five tips on how to get that table at the current “it” spot:1. Sometimes, smaller is better — This should be obvious, but trying to secure a table for a large party at Per Se in New York City isn’t going to work.
2. Reservations open 30 days in advance for most US restaurants — Pre-planning has never been so important. Some exclusive restaurants open reservations 2 weeks in advance, others are 60 days, and some go up to 1 year; but a majority are 30 days. Make sure you call the restaurant on that exact day when the reservation opens or you may not get your spot!
3. Avoid rush hour and prime days — Most people tend to want to eat at restaurants between 7:00 to 9:00PM, and the prime dining evenings are usually Wednesday through Saturday. If you are flexible, dining during the off hours is a great way to get into that hot restaurant. This is a good strategy for those on vacations, who usually have more flexibility on their eating times.
4. Walk-in accepted — Don’t be afraid to walk into a hot/hip restaurant if you are a couple or by yourself. You’d be surprised at the number of times I was able to get seated using this strategy, without suffering through a long wait. Most exclusive restaurants would accept walk-in patrons.
5. Take advantage of the concierge — If you are staying at a top quality hotel, this is by far the best strategy. If you are trying to get into a tough restaurant, and you are flexible with day and time, you would be surprised at the amount of “pull” that the concierge service has. Some restaurants reserve tables specifically for those favorite concierges who consistently make reservations with them. Note though, that while they can pull off reservation miracles at times, you shouldn’t expect to show up on Friday morning and get a reservation at Nobu New York that very same evening at 8:00PM!