50 Best Restaurant Bars in the U.S.

Top-50-Vibrant-Bar-Scene-RestaurantsDo you enjoy starting — or ending — your evening of dining out with a cocktail at a restaurant’s bar? Of course, you do — which is why OpenTable is pleased to announce the winners of our 2009 Diners’ Choice Awards for restaurants with the “Most Vibrant Bar Scenes.” Derived from nearly four million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 10,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list speaks to diners who love to mix and mingle at the bar before or after dinner.

Out just in time for the super-social holiday season, this list, along with our Good for Groups winners as well as our new Private Dining Pages, can help you find the perfect place to get in the spirit of the season with friends, family, and coworkers. Winners include Chicago’s 33 Club, Chino Latino in Minneapolis, Henry’s 12th Street Tavern in Portland, Loft 610 in Plano (where “Top Chef” contestant Tre Wilcox runs the kitchen), meZ in Charlotte, Ozumo in Oakland, and YOLO in sunny Fort Lauderdale, among others.

From classic cocktails and craft beers to seasonal creations and diverse wine lists, these bars are also feature plenty of opportunities for people watching. Tell us if your favorite made the list, and be sure to fill out OpenTable’s Dining Feedback Forms to make sure your voice is heard next year.

50 Finest Restaurants for Foodies

Food and drinkIf you’re a true foodie, you probably enjoy dining out at innovative restaurants where the chefs are on the leading edge of culinary creativity. Now, finding those restaurants is easier than ever. We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2009 Diners’ Choice Awards in the Fit for Foodies category. 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 list speaks to diners with a discerning palette seeking adventure and thrills from their food.

Most diners will recognize some of the names on the list (Blue Hill, The French Laundry), but it is rife with sleepers (Dirt Candy, Fore Street, noca, Wink) from all over the country that have been wholeheartedly embraced by local foodies. The states of California and New York made strong showings, but Illinois, with seven winners, is clearly nipping at their heels. Winners can also be found in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maine and South Carolina, among others.

Find out which restaurants are waiting to impress you and your most finicky, well-fed, foodie friends. Reserve a table today.

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

what-to-do-when-a-restaurantIt 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.

Conde Nast Traveler 2009 Hot Tables List

The trendsetters at Conde Nast have released their 13th annual Conde Nast Traveler Hot Tables list. This year, OpenTable restaurants on the list include A Restaurant, Adour, AKASHA, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Beatrice & Woodsley, Bedford Post-The Farmhouse, Convivio, Corton, Craigie on Main, db Bistro Moderne, Distrito, DNA, Dogwood, Eloise, Founding Farmers, Hungry Mother, L2O, L’Artusi, Murray Circle, Nota Bene, Pacific Time, palate food + wine, The Publican, Restaurant Avondale, Revolution, Scarpetta, Sra. Martinez, Woodberry Kitchen, Zahav, and Zinnia.

Have you dined at any of these restaurants? What other hotspots should have made the list? And most importantly, tell us about a hot restaurant you would like to see on OpenTable.