Washington DC When trying to nab a table at these hot spots, there are a few things that will always work in your favor: torrential rain and hurricane-force winds; willingness to party on a Tuesday; and being exceptionally good looking or charming. But beyond that, here are a few more tips to try:
Tips for tackling these top 5 no-reservation restaurants
Rose’s Luxury (info and address)
The awards keep coming for this Barracks Row restaurant, which means Vatican-like long lines. If a three-hour wait makes you cringe, kiss Friday and Saturday dinner goodbye and come on a Monday. Yes, they still have the pork lychee salad on Mondays.
Pro tip: There’s some relief in sight: soon, RL will take online reservations for a tasting menu experience held at a communal table on the patio. Continue Reading
Little Serow (info and address)
Timing is CRUCIAL if you want to try this lauded Thai tasting menu. The line starts forming at 4:15pm because everyone wants to get their taste buds blown off. So make some unemployed friends -- they’re perfect for waiting in line at this hour. Your place in line determines whether you get a 5:30pm, 7:30pm, or 9:30pm seating, though this is not an exact science.
Pro tip: If you've had a 5:30pm table bestowed upon you, but aren’t hungry enough to tackle seven courses just yet, they may let you defer to 7:30pm. Ask nicely.
Barcelona Wine Bar (info and address)
Getting a prime seat on the patio is nearly impossible -- even when it’s 40 degrees and raining. So do everyone a favor and let that pipe dream go and settle for dining not fresco. Otherwise, you’ll be eight liters deep in beer at Garden District still waiting for your phone to ring.
Pro tip: Still not willing to give up on that patio table? Know someone that knows someone. We’ve also heard slipping the hostess some $$$ helps, but this is utterly unconfirmed.
Izakaya Seki (info and address)
U Street Corridor
If you want a guaranteed spot at this Japanese pub food place on V Street, try asking four or more friends to clear their social calendars. Tables of five to eight are the only ones worthy of a reservation at Seki. Smaller parties can't go this route, but have the distinct advantage of downstairs counter seats that mean maximum Japanese authenticity.
Pro tip: Eat like an actress all day (two almonds!) so you’re ready to go hard when the doors open at 5pm.
Toki Underground (info and address)
Ramen shops are not known for their expansive space, and Toki Underground is no different. So don’t mess around showing up with more than two people. Fortunately, there’s a built-in plan for where to wait -- The Pug. It’s located one floor below and has excellent cell service for when you get the text that it’s noodle time.
Pro tip: Unlike every other restaurant on this list, Toki does lunch. So hit that.
Rose's Luxury is a small, first-come first-serve establishment that's into all sorts of rule-breaking: grilling salad, posting framed profanity, and pairing popcorn with lobster. Come early enough and you can get a front row seat at the open kitchen and watch the magic happen from the chef's counter.
Though you may have to brave a serious line (we're not kidding, get there early!), the family-style Thai meal that you'll encounter at Little Serow will be well worth the wait. They don't make any substitutions, so make sure you're adventurous, allergy-less, and ready to rumble.
Barcelona has a no-reservations policy, so get there early to get close to the fire on their pit-laden patio, and grab a Mangalica Jamon charcuterie so you can say you’ve eaten wooly snow pig before making your way through 40 different tapas.
Izakaya Seki is authentic Japanese grub that goes way beyond sushi and sashimi. In this two story eatery, you can watch the chef prepare dishes like beef tongue with yuzu miso and serve it right to you at the bar or head to the upstairs and sample all of the 25 sakes.
One of the first authentic ramen joints in DC, Toki Underground serves comforting noodle dishes inspired by Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s culinary memories -- whether it’s the Taipei ramen shop he worked at or the family-made dumplings he ate growing up. Made with that much TLC, the dishes here are well worth the occasionally long lunchtime wait. You’ll want to dig into the Toki Classic, a steaming bowl of ramen topped with pulled pork and a soft-boiled egg, and sip -- or bomb -- one of the specialty sakes.