How To Eat At A Crowded Restaurant With No Reservation

When you’re traveling, it’s not always easy to determine when, where or even what time you’re going to have dinner. There may be a place you’re going to make it your business to visit (like when we went to Sedona specifically to eat at a particular restaurant) but if you’re anything like us, for the most part, you decide to eat on a spur of the moment basis. That’s all well and good, except for two things…

If you don’t have a reservation. Or if the place is crowded and the wait is forever. Either way, chances are you’re either not going to be able to eat there at all, or you may as well get comfortable because there’s a 90 to 100 minute wait (You think I’m kidding? Try going to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal CitiWalk right after the park has closed at 7pm).

But you may be able to get around it.

Eat at “off” times

This one is good for places that tend to fill up, whether they take reservations or not. If you enter the restaurant as a “walk in” before 4:30pm or after 9pm, chances are better that there will be an empty table for you with a minimal wait.

Eat at the bar

It won’t work at all restaurants, but for lots of places, regardless if they take reservations or not, the bar itself, as well as the tables near the bar, are considered “no man’s land” and you’re free to grab seats without a reservation or putting your name on a waitlist. If you can manage to get seating there, you’ll be served just the same as if you were seated at a regular, non-bar table. Granted, the atmosphere might not be the same as that secluded booth in the corner, but it’s seating and food will be involved, and beggars can’t be choosers, right?

The “eat at the bar” concept doesn’t always work – not all restaurants do it and some may take it away during special occasions such as Thanksgiving. And, of course, depending on where you are, if you have kids in tow, they may not be allowed to sit at or even near the bar. But it never hurts to ask the seating host(ess) if you can grab seats at the bar, or a bar table (if available).

So those are our super secret tricks…don’t spread them around!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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