The Best Restaurant Reservation Times Are The Least Conventional

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry — like when you try to be proactive by making a restaurant reservation, only for the person on the other end of the line to tell you that there are no openings at that time. You may be disappointed that your preferred dining time is unavailable, but fret not. The best time to reserve a table is actually during the restaurant's slowest hours, usually in the early and late evening.

Reserving an earlier or later time will not only increase your chances of a peaceful meal, it's also a way to be considerate of the owner and employees. According to the co-owner of the Michelin-starred Brooklyn restaurant Francie, John Winterman, "Dining earlier (or later) allows restaurants to maximize their revenue" (via Food & Wine). When a party is seated at a restaurant, it's called a "turn," and most locations try to fit in a couple of turns a night. Eating when the restaurant opens or a bit before it closes will help the staff fill that quota.

Set your reservation for fashionably early or respectably late

Say a restaurant is open for dinner from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. If the average party takes about two hours to finish their meal, then the eatery should be able to fit three turns in the time they're open. However, if a reservation is made in the middle of that time frame, it becomes harder for the restaurant to fill the table efficiently.

Arriving when the restaurant first opens helps with this problem and so does arriving late — but if you do this, just be mindful of the restaurant's hours. Plan to get there after the dinner rush, but give your party enough time to eat without staying past closing. If the restaurant closes at 10 p.m., you should get there around 8 p.m. so none of the staff has to wait for you to finish eating.

Eating earlier or later may also improve your overall dining experience. Since the servers are less busy, they can give you more attention, and your food might even arrive quicker and fresher. For a bit of inspiration on where to reserve your next meal, it's worth looking into the best new restaurants that have opened, and you can book even the most exclusive spots through a mysterious site. Just don't make a reservation during peak hours, and you may be the favorite customer of the night.