How to Score a Reservation at a Restaurant That's Always Booked

How to Score a Reservation at a Restaurant That's Always Booked

Even Mario Batali's kids use this one trick (at least, according to Carla Hall). 

By Maggie Shi
Digital Original
Celeb Chefs Share Tips for Scoring a Hard-to-Get Restaurant Reservation

We've all been there—seeing the dreaded OpenTable message that "no tables are available within 2.5 hours of your request." Constantly hitting the refresh button on your computer, hoping a new table will open up. Or calling a restaurant at exactly 10 a.m. exactly 30 days before your desired date, only to get that never-ending busy signal. What's the secret to scoring that coveted reservation at one of the hottest restaurants in town?

Top Chef alum Carla Hall's advice is to call up a restaurant and pretend you're someone's assistant. This strategy, she admits, is not foolproof. "I try it. Mario [Batali] keeps telling me it works," she says of her Chew co-host. "Even his kids do it."

Hmm…we're pretty sure Mario Batali can get a reservation anywhere he wants.

James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Maws has a more straightforward strategy. In this high-tech era, where customers rely on apps and the Internet to make reservations, sometimes a well-timed old-fashioned phone call can do the trick. "There's this thing, it's a telephone, it rings, and someone answers on the other line, and it's amazing how many times a restaurant might actually be holding slots or someone just canceled," he says.

But Top Chef Fan Favorite Sheldon Simeon might have the best strategy of all. "A case of beer" is the way to a chef's heart—and table for two, apparently—he says. Or you can pull the Hawaii card and "invite him to Maui, that always helps," he says, before realizing, "Oh, I guess you have to be from Maui. I forgot about that."

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