Why Landing A Last-Minute Reservation At A Steakhouse Isn't Always Great

The public is fickle, and in the restaurant world high customer demand carries formidable merit. Securing the reservation you really want can be tough, especially if you're looking to dine at a highly-ranked steakhouse. In fact, if reservations are too easy to get, some industry professionals consider that a poor reflection on the restaurant. For better or worse, fine dining remains an elite sphere, and accessibility (or the lack thereof) separates the wheat from the chaff. As Michael Voltaggio, co-owner of Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse in Maryland and former "Top Chef" contestant, tells Business Insider, A good steakhouse should be hard to book. "If you can get an eight-top last minute at 8 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night," says Voltaggio, "that's probably a good reason to not go there."

When it comes to hotels and airplane tickets, sometimes you can actually save money by booking last minute. That's not the case with steakhouses. Reservations can fill up quickly, especially on weekends or holidays. For many high-demand restaurants, it's common practice to open the books for online reservations two weeks in advance at a set time (i.e. 10 a.m., midnight, etc.). Other restaurants open their online books as far as 30 days in advance. Check the steakhouse's website or Yelp! page to find out if they have a specific recurring time slot like this.

In the steakhouse realm, hard-to-get is the hallmark of high quality

Sometimes dining establishments will save a few tables and bar seats for walk-ins, but practices vary per restaurant. Think of it like a door ticket at a sold-out concert — if you're serious about getting a decent table and don't have a reservation, get there early. Dallas-based Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse recommends booking reservations weeks or months in advance, and when you do so, cover all of your bases. As the steakhouse explains, communicating the accurate number of people in your party, any dietary restrictions or allergies, or the desire for a table by the window is crucial for ensuring the staff can get you the reservation you want.

If all else fails, you can always call the restaurant day-of right around opening time and inquire about any last-minute cancellations. Having a human conversation with the human host over the phone and being nice is always a good look and a solid strategy. The professional behind the host's stand knows more about what's going on in the dining room on any given night than OpenTable or Resy. If they're booked, they're booked, and there might not be anything the host can do to help you. But don't be afraid to pick up the phone. However, if the books are wide open on a Saturday night — even if you get the best table in the house — a phone call might not be enough to guarantee a good steakhouse dining experience