This Is The Best Time To Eat At A Restaurant, According To Top Chef Alum

When it comes time to book a dinner reservation to try out a new restaurant (or revisit a favorite that you go to time and time again), there are a lot of factors at play. On the most basic level, you need to find a time that works for everyone in your dining party. However, there are also particular attitudes and stigmas around certain times. On the one hand, you don't want to dine too close to closing time and potentially irritate the kitchen staff as you linger over your courses, while they just want to wrap up their shift. On the other hand, many look down on dining too early as something only the elderly do — after all, the "early bird special" is associated with seniors opting to dine out. Typically, many people go for that late evening time slot of roughly 7 to 9 p.m., as it seems like the best bet.

However, according to Chris Scott, a "Top Chef" alum, you may want to rethink your reservation strategy, and consider shifting it a little bit earlier (via Insider). As Scott said, "I know it's not considered cool to be the first at the party, but when you're first, you basically get first dibs." The premise is simple — since the kitchen and staff aren't dealing with a huge volume of orders, they'll have more time and attention to pay to you and your meal.

An ideal time on the opposite end of the spectrum

While "Top Chef" alum Chris Scott recommends shifting your reservation time to a bit earlier than the peak hours of approximately 7 to 9 p.m., Tanner Agar, owner of the restaurant Rye, has a different recommendation, although the premise is similar (via Insider). Agar himself prefers to make his restaurant reservations around 9 p.m., just after the peak dinner rush. This time slot means the rush is over, but it's not quite so late that the restaurant staff will be irritated with you for being the last guest in the dining room.

Ultimately, Agar gives a simple rule for determining when to make reservations: "Basically, don't go to restaurants when everyone else is going to restaurants." Yes, it may seem like almost the default option to make a reservation during those peak hours, but if you want to elevate your dining experience, shifting a little bit earlier or later can be incredibly helpful. The service will likely be better, as all the staff, from the chefs and kitchen staff to the wait staff, will have a bit more time and attention to pay to you and your meal. As an added bonus, you'll be able to interact more with the wait staff, asking for recommendations or asking questions without feeling like you're monopolizing their time and leaving them in the weeds.