Has business in Dallas restaurants slowed to a grinding halt, or are dining rooms more packed than ever? It depends whom you ask.
Last week, I wanted to book a table at FT33, one of only two five-star restaurants in Dallas at the moment. I was amazed at how easy it was: On Open Table on Wednesday afternoon, I was able to find prime time (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.) tables for two for that night — as well as for Thursday night, and even Friday and Saturday nights.
Restaurateurs — some, anyway — will tell you that this time of year is always slow, as people are getting those last vacations in, or they're busy getting their kids back in school, and so on.
But some restaurants are booked solid. As I write this (at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday), if you want to reserve a table for two at Uchi using Open Table, forget about tonight and next weekend. The next Friday night prime-table tables are a month out.
So, what's hot and what's not?
I went on Open Table this morning (at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday) to find out where I'd have success booking a table for two the same evening. A few things to keep in mind: Not every restaurant uses Open Table (Lucia, for instance, where tables are famously hard to come by, does not). Size sometimes matters. Fearing's, Lark on the Park, Mudhen Meat and Greens and Stampede 66, for example, have very large seating capacity. Also, some restaurants only use Open Table for a portion of their bookings. keeping some (sometimes many) of their tables available for walk-ins. Such is the case at Uchi, for instance.
If you think a highly critical review makes it impossible for a restaurant to make it, think again: Ida Claire, which earned just one star in a review last October, was completely booked for Saturday night. Similarly, a four-star review doesn't necessarily translate to bookings: CBD Provisions; Mot Hai Ba; Neighborhood Services Addison and Salum had plenty of same-Saturday-night tables available. Some restaurateurs and restaurant groups have restaurants that are hot and restaurants that are not. If you wanted a reservation at Nick and Sam's Steakhouse, forget about it. But at Nick and Sam's Grill Park Cities, you could book the time of your choice.
OK, here we go . . .
Note: I'm not including every restaurant in Dallas; what follows is a sampling.
The following restaurants did not have a single available table for two between 6:30 and 8:30 on a Saturday night when checked at 9:30 a.m.: Abacus: Boulevardier; Cafe Pacific; Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck; Gemma; Hattie's; Ida Claire; Kenny's Woodfired Grill; Knife; Little Katana (Knox-Henderson); the Mansion Restaurant; the Meddlesome Moth; Mesero (Inwood Village); Montlake Cut; Neighborhood Services (Lovers Lane); Nick and Sam's Steakhouse; Nonna; Rapscallion; Pappa's Bros. Steakhouse; Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe at Hall Arts; Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar; Sprezza; Tei-An; Uchi; Victor Tangos.
If you were looking for a table for two Saturday at 9:30 a.m. for the same night, you could choose just about anytime at the following establishments: Americano; Bob's Steak and Chop House (Lemmon Ave.); Bistro 31; Cadot; Cafe Momentum; CBD Provisions; Dakota's Steakhouse; Dish Preston Hollow; 18th and Vine BBQ; Fearings; the Grape; Komali; Kenichi; Lark on the Park; Madrina; Mercat Bistro; Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine; the Mercury; Mot Hai Ba; Neighborhood Services (Addison); Mudhen Meat and Greens; Nick and Sam's Grill Park Cities; Oak; Pakpao (Design District); Pink Magnolia; Proof + Pantry; Salum; Savor; Sevy's; TJ's Seafood Market and Grill; Ser; Smoke (Oak Cliff); the Theodore; Tillman's Roadhouse; Wayward Sons; Zio Cecio Cucina Italiana.
Some prime-time slots were available at the following: Al Biernat's (6:30, 8:30); Bolsa (7:45, 8, 8:15); Casa Rubia (8, 8:30 p.m.); Filament (6:30p.m.); Hibiscus; Lavendou (6:30, 8, 8:30 p.m.); Le Bilboquet (8:30 p.m.); Nobu (8:15, 8:30 p.m.); Remedy (8:15, 8:30 p.m.); Shinsei (8:30 p.m.); Top Knot (6:30 p.m.); True Food Kitchen (8, 8:30 p.m.); Stampede 66 (7:45, 8, 8:15, 8:30); Stock and Barrel (6:30, 6:45, 8:30 p.m.); Suze (6:45, 8:30 p.m.)