What You Can Do When a Restaurant Isn’t on OpenTable

what to do when a restaurant What You Can Do When a Restaurant Isnt on OpenTableIt doesn’t happen terribly often – but it happens. You’re searching for a particular restaurant on OpenTable, and you discover that they’re not part of the OpenTable network. Quelle horreur! If you’re like me, you probably just find somewhere else to dine (I seriously cannot live without OpenTable’s automated email invitations and reminders. If they didn’t send them to me, I know I’d be a no-show offender!). I wondered what other diners do – so I asked our Facebook fans to chime in.

Turns out, many folks also love the convenience of OpenTable. In our 2009 Diner’s Choice Survey, 79% of OpenTable diners cited the ease of making a reservation and of coordinating plans with others as among the reasons they prefer reserving online rather than using the telephone.” Michele Stanley says, “I very rarely dine somewhere that isn’t on OpenTable…. There are a lot of restaurants on OpenTable that I have never tried, so to me I have plenty of options.” Frequent traveler  (and fan of our Dining Rewards Program) James Bowler says that if a restaurant isn’t on OpenTable, “I don’t eat there; as a road warrior with an expense account, OT is free money.” Diner Sunny Drohan admits she’ll go to off-network restaurants, but, she says, “I always ask why they aren’t on OpenTable. I am pitching them all the time.”

If you’ve got your heart set on a particular place that’s not on OpenTable, you’re probably forced to pick up the phone and make a reservation the old-fashioned way. Is there a way to avoid this in the future? Yes! First, you can politely tell the reservationist and/or host that you were hoping the restaurant was on OpenTable, as some of our diners do. Next, you can suggest restaurants (and additional metropolitan areas) where you would like to use OpenTable to reserve tables online. Just visit www.OpenTable.com, select a metropolitan area, and use the “Suggest a New Restaurant” link located below the “Just Added” list of new OpenTable partner restaurants in that area. The more suggestions we get, the more likely you are to find that restaurant on OpenTable in the future.

Top 50 Scenic Restaurants: How You See It

eiffel tower las vegas1 Top 50 Scenic Restaurants: How You See ItJust in time for the last days of high summer (and the long Labor Day weekend), we  are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2009 Diners’ Choice Awards for Most Scenic View. Derived from more than 3 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for nearly 10,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this varied list speaks to not just the natural beauty of our nation, but also the creativity of restaurateurs in choosing unique locations for restaurants.

The Chart House family of restaurants, renowned for their spectacular waterfront views and seafood offerings, earned kudos several times over, alongside such man-made feats including the Eiffel Tower restaurant, where the City of Lights meets Sin City, Boston’s Top of the Hub, which sits atop the Prudential Tower, and Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, which is perched on the 50th floor of Reunion Tower in Dallas.

Add more to your next meal when you book a table at one of these 50 restaurants with breathtaking (and sometimes heart-stopping) vistas. Reserve a table today.

Is Your Dining Companion Making You Overeat?

is your dining companion influencing Is Your Dining Companion Making You Overeat?The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog discusses a new study by Duke University, the University of British Columbia, and Arizona State University that suggests the size of your dining companion can influence how much you order.

Contrary to what you might think, researchers have found that you’re more susceptible to overeating if your partner is petite in size but with eyes far bigger than her belly. Conversely, folks who ate with overweight partners actually ordered more modestly than their less-svelte companions. The research also revealed that we all order similarly to those we’re dining with, regardless of body type.

Are you guilty of this? If your size-0 girlfriend orders a big plate of pasta, are you likely to follow suit? Or, if your chubby hubby chooses a juicy steak and sumptuous sides, do you get a salad?

Let’s Eat: Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week Is Here

dc restaurant week Lets Eat: Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week Is HereThe founding foodies who live and work in our nation’s capital (excepting the vacationing First Family), as well as visitors, can take advantage of delicious dining deals during Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week. Sumptuous prix-fixe lunches and dinners are being offered for just $20.09 and $35.09, respectively. Participating restaurants include B. Smith’s, Cafe Promenade, Charlie Palmer Steak, The Prime Rib, Sam & Harry’s, and scores of other fine eateries.

Show your patriotic spirit and dine out around town during this affordable and fun week. Reserve tables here!

How One Restaurant Critic Had His Cake (Without Gaining Weight)

how one restaurant critic had his cake How One Restaurant Critic Had His Cake (Without Gaining Weight)As Frank Bruni hangs up his restaurant critic’s hat for The New York Times, he reveals his strategies for staying slim while dining out repeatedly at many of the Big Apple’s restaurants, old and new.

Turns out Mr. Bruni had fought and lost the battle of the bulge for most of his life, until just before he began his turn as one of the paper’s most famous foodies. During his tenure, he consumed an average of 3,000 calories a day without putting back on the weight he’d lost, through — shocker! — regular exercise and by following five steadfast rules.

I don’t consume 3,000 calories a day every day (emphasis on the “every”), but I do eat out often. My strategies for dining out without regret include trying to make fish and/or salad a part of every meal. Sometimes I fail (Or do I? Does a caviar garnish count as fish?), but not usually. Splitting several dishes is quite effective as well. Two friends and I recently ordered two appetizers, two pasta courses, and two protein-heavy entrees for our table so we could try everything we desired without the guilt. Dessert, too, is made for sharing — unless someone at your table has more than one sweet tooth.

What do you do to avoid overdoing it when dining out? Or is dining out precisely the time you should overdo it?

When Restaurants Take a Vacation

gone fishing When Restaurants Take a VacationEverybody deserves a break once in a while — even restaurants (and all the hard-working folks who toil there!). I was poking around on OpenTable, pondering reservation choices for dinners over the next few weeks, and La Grenouille, a New York dining institution, didn’t show up for any of dates. I panicked for a few moments (Could they be — GASP! — closing?) until clicking over to their profile page and seeing a note, indicating they’re taking a brief break during the last days of high summer. A piece in the New York Post a few days later touched on this very topic, revealing that several of Manhattan’s most famous establishments go on hiatus for a few weeks around this time of year, including Cafe des Artistes, Adour Alain Ducasse at the St. Regis, Le Cirque, Cafe Boulud, and Chanterelle (the last two are also undergoing renovations).

If you don’t see availability for a particular restaurant, check the restaurant’s profile page for a note about a vacation or renovations before assuming the worst. And, try to find some new faves while your current ones are taking time away or, lucky them, all booked up!

Dallas-Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant Week

dallas fort worth restaurant week Dallas Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant WeekDiners in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas, rejoice! This week is the start of the Dallas-Fort Worth KRLD Restaurant Week. With delicious, three-course dinners for just $35, you can’t beat this cool price during some of the hottest days of summer. Participating restaurants include Abacus, Craft Dallas, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Local, Stephan Pyles, and many more. According to KRLD, for each $35 prix-fixe dinner purchased, participating restaurants will make a $7 donation to the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas and Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth to benefit families in need.

Take advantage of this opportunity to do good while you’re dining out. Reserve a table today.

At Your Service…or Not?

at your service At Your Service...or Not?This week, San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer emphasized the importance of service with a smile to the overall dining experience on his blog, and I (and his other readers) cannot agree more.

I’ve recently had a series of exceptional meals. One was more remarkable than the next. Sadly, my streak was shattered by a horrible experience at a popular New York restaurant. The food was beyond mediocre, but the fatal flaw was the poor service. Our waiter looked distracted and disinterested. Bus staff hovered and tried repeatedly to pull still-full plates from our table. Our order came out, well, in the wrong order — which they then tried to re-serve to us after it clearly had been withering under heat lamps for 20 minutes.

I could go on about this dreadful dinner, but I won’t.  The bottom line is that most restaurants are truly raising the bar in a very holistic manner. The food I’m eating has, typically, been getting better and better, and there’s a palpable emphasis on service. The wonderful wait staff I’ve encountered lately (this last experience not withstanding) have been more like culinary guides, shepherding my fellow diners and I through an evening of gastronomic delights, rather than mere order takers.

Have you experienced a higher level of service as of late? Or has poor service marred a meal for you? Let us know here or over at Facebook.

This Just In: OpenTable for iPhone 2.0 Mobile App

iphone app update This Just In: OpenTable for iPhone 2.0 Mobile AppThe new OpenTable for iPhone 2.0 mobile application is here. With this new and improved app, you’ll be able to use your iPhone to:

  • Make 1,000-point restaurant reservations to earn free meals even faster.
  • Modify reservations to change the date or party size.
  • Make “Special Requests for the Maitre ‘D.”
  • Read restaurant menus and reviews from recent OpenTable diners.
  • Invite fellow diners via email.
  • Get directions.
  • And more!

Download the latest version of this free app today to start making the most of your dining out experiences tonight.

Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem. Restaurant Week Is Here!

houston restaurant week 2009 Houston, We Dont Have a Problem. Restaurant Week Is Here!The wait is over. Houston Restaurant Week starts today. Residents — and visitors — to Space City can enjoy $35, three-course meals at some of Houston’s finest dining establishments through August 23.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to try new restaurants and revisit old favorites at a price that’s nice to your wallet. Participating restaurants include Capital Grille, Monarch, NOE, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pesce, Ruth’s Chris, and an array of others.

Make a reservation today to take advantage of this city’s tastiest two weeks yet!