When Is The Worst Time To Visit A Restaurant? Here's What Diners Say — Tasting Table Survey

No matter the meal, dining out is always an event. What may seem like a simple concept — sitting down to eat — can become a fun and memorable experience, should you hit the restaurant at the right time. Whether you're out for breakfast or a cocktail, there's something exciting about perusing your options while sitting across from your companion of choice. You don't even need an upscale eatery to enjoy the best parts of dining out. Any place will do, so long as the food holds up.

However, you'll want to be deliberate in choosing which meal to go for. The pandemic spurred quite a few changes to dining-out culture and experiences. Menus are far simpler now than they were pre-2020, with convenience and creativity the name of the game. According to The New York Times, the timelines for eating out have similarly changed. People don't have as much stamina for late-night dinners, with 6 p.m. meals overtaking 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. dinners.

This trend for earlier dining rang true in Tasting Table's latest survey, which asked 588 people about their go-to restaurant timeframes. One meal in particular saw the largest number of votes, while another is keeping diners at home.

Restaurants aren't a go-to for late-night meals

It's no surprise that dinner is the most popular restaurant meal. Long regarded as the meal to eat out, dinner is the anchor for romantic date nights, after-work get-togethers, and weekend celebrations with family and friends. That's why 50% of survey respondents named dinner as their favorite time to go to a restaurant.

Lunch received the second highest number of votes, with 22% preferring the midday restaurant rush. Breakfast fans followed lunch enthusiasts, with 12% wanting to start their mornings on the right foot. After all, going out for breakfast is what diners were made for.

Brunch, those weekend breakfast-lunch hybrids that originated as the cure to a hangover, came in just behind lunch when it came to the best time to eat out. Just under 12% chose brunch as their favorite time to eat out, which comes as a surprise since brunch has grown in popularity of late, particularly with millennials who regard brunch not just as food, but an experience, according to Medium.

That brings us to the time when restaurants are just not that popular with diners: late-night. A mere 4% of participants chose late-night as their preferred time to eat out, making it the worst time to visit a restaurant, according to our Tasting Table survey.