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:
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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.
Situated in a converted townhouse on Capitol Hill, Rose's Luxury is a twinkle-lit, farmhouse-chic restaurant that draws crowds for its bold small plates. Unfortunately for those crowds, it doesn't accept reservations. Get here early for dinner and you can nab a front-row seat at the chef's counter overlooking the open kitchen, where shareable dishes like Thai-marinated pork blade steak and boudin-stuffed jalapeño are prepared with precision.
At Little Serow, the standard wait for a table is no less than an hour. The spot's prix-fixe-only menu, updated every Tuesday, offers a different series of family-style plates each week, all of which are carefully curated to create a balanced spread of Northern Thai flavors (which means you get to skip out on the painful process of selecting your own entree). Typically, guests can choose between a meat-centric or seafood-heavy meal option, but otherwise, the place offers no substitutions (even for allergies). But while L.S. won't cater to picky guests, diners rarely complain after consuming plates of mud crab with coconut husk and shrimp paste, or whole market fish with fresh turmeric and house peanut sauce. And the best part: desert is mandatory.
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.