How we eat out in Washington, DC

Earlier this week we called out The Washington City Paper list of 52 great things to do in Washington, D.C.

Their restaurant recommendations didn’t overlap with any of the ones we included in the first edition of our quarterly ebook Just the Ticket, but as we pored over the list it reminded us of one of Washington’s heated debates, so we’re bringing the question to you.

A few of the best places they put on their list are restaurants that don’t take reservations. Hopeful patrons show up early and wait in line, either to be seated immediately or to sign up to get a text when there’s a free table.  It’s driving many of DC’s foodies crazy, as the time commitment and uncertainty can be pretty steep, particularly on a weekend night out.

We’ve eaten at a couple of these restaurants, and give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Rose’s Luxury, in the Eastern Market neighborhood.  We’ll brave the line up to 45 minutes before the restaurant opens, and have our friends meet us once we have a better idea of what time we can get a table. However, despite our enthusiasm for the form, we’ve been shying away from no-reservation restaurants for Just the Ticket for two reasons:

  1. visitors don’t have the patience and/or enough advance info to go through that kind of rigmarole.
  2. an evening at one of these restaurants, which tend to serve multi-course meals and encourage a slow-dining, food-and-drink savoring approach, is usually the entirety of the great evening, leaving no time for other entertainment.

So we’re looking for your thoughts.  On the one hand: exceptional food and service at a relatively affordable price for such high-quality meals and the experience of a truly “hot” dining venues.  On the other: there’s that pesky 20-45 minutes or so in line, outdoors, while you fret that you might not make it in. (The modest consolation is that most of these restaurants are in neighborhoods with other good places to eat that are easier to get a table at.)

What do you think? Is no-reservations dining something that would fit into your future DC visits or not?

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