Unless you’re planning far in advance or have serious connections to the chef, it can be hard to get into the hottest restaurants in town.
But thanks to new apps and websites that lock down same-day openings, getting a last minute reservation can be quick and easy.
The only catch is that you’ll have to pay fees for booking.
But if you’re willing to shell out some cash to avoid those unavailabilities and impress your date, here’s a list of the top last-minute reservation apps and websites.
I Know The Chef
I Know The Chef tracks down prime-time tables in New York, Miami, and Chicago.
The website is like a concierge service, offering you the option to create a profile based on your preferences.
You can select your favourite drink options, your favourite dessert options, and your preferred seating arrangement.
I Know The Chef has several membership options: a 20-day trial at $US19.99, a quarterly membership at $US70, an annual membership of $US250, and an elite annual member at $US500 (for full refunds on cancellations). Membership gives you access to unlimited reservation access.
They also have a special Table for Two section for intimate gatherings, and a selection of the staff’s favourite restaurants.
Sometimes, if the demand is not too high, you can get access to reservations for free.
Table8, available in San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Chicago, partners with top restaurants to offer tables at peak dining hours.
You can also get VIP access to restaurants that offer select seats to Table8 members.
Fees typically range from $US1 to $US30 per reservation and depend on the demand during your selected day and time.
This Chicago-based app provides daily offerings of new openings at restaurants held exclusively for TableSavvy members and 30% off your meal when you book a table. The booking fee is $US5.
Zurvu searches OpenTable to find daily openings. It also offers exclusive tables with its partner restaurants. They have automated wait-lists if you don’t see a reservation you’d like, and the fee to book a table is only $US5.
If you don’t want to pay a fee, try:
Part of OpenTable, Hot Tables finds any cancellations in restaurants across New York, Houston, and Los Angeles and posts them in real-time to help you lock down a last-minute opening.
OpenTable is the original restaurant reservation site. It has the largest number of participating restaurants around the world, and bookings are free.
TableSweep, a free service, scans fully-booked restaurants on OpenTable every five seconds to list reservations that open up right away. They search restaurants anywhere from the United States to Acapulco. The one drawback is you can only search for a specific restaurant, so it’s best to come here if you already have a place in mind.