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6. Watch the clock. If you are trying to snag a table as a walk-in, ask the host or hostess when they need the table back. Restaurants often pad reservation times because they don't want to have to kick a diner out. Assure the host you'll be out well in advance of the next booking for the table to increase your chances of being seated.
7. Open minds mean open tables. You're unlikely to snag the hottest ticket in town if you're only willing to dine at 8 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night. Ask for mid-week reservations or be open to dining at times you'd typically associate with the early bird special or late night munchies. Also, be flexible on where you're willing to sit. Being open to smaller tables, or being seated near the bathroom or kitchen make you more likely to actually get a seat at all.
8. Don't bite the hand that seats you. Being a good tipper is great but don't forget the maître d after you've dined as well. A small thank-you tip on the way out, or inexpensive gift around the holidays will ensure a prime seat the next time you visit.
9. Cozy up to the concierge. Restaurants often hold a few tables for guests of top local hotels and in return, the hotel will recommend the eatery to their guests. If you're traveling, don't hesitate to ask the front desk about that new trendy spot—they might be able to get you in even if your own efforts weren't successful.
10. Sup at the stools. While there might be only one or two spots available at a time, this is still an option for singles or couples that are dining. Not only do most places serve food at the bar, your bartender might be less rushed than the on-duty wait staff.