The Best Months to Get Difficult Restaurant Reservations in DC

If you want to snag a table, here's when to pounce.

Photograph by Scott Suchman

Late summer used to be a time for the hoi polloi to try out Washington’s most popular restaurants. But the rise of food tourism and the success of Restaurant Week—developed precisely to sustain eateries through the sparsely populated late-summer days—means reservations are tight even in summer. At Rose’s Luxury, near tourist spots on Capitol Hill, the line gets longer, while at the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, it’s business as usual on weekends, according to sommelier Sebastian Zutant. He recommends showing up at about 7 on a weeknight and haunting the bar to watch a patron eat dessert. Then, Zutant says, “pounce.”

Source: OpenTable

But after August’s booming month, there’s a nearly 20 percent decline in the average tables served by month in DC. From 2012-2014, Restaurant Week has occurred in January, February (due to the 2013 Presidential inauguration), and August—noticeably the busier months for restaurants in the area. To avoid the long lines and wait times, try booking tables in September, October, and November, when restaurants aren’t serving so many tables. Not only will you snag a spot at hard-to-get restaurants, you’ll be supporting Washington restaurants during the late-summer, early-fall slump.

This article appears in our August 2015 issue of Washingtonian.