You can’t really go wrong choosing a table from one of Commander’s Palace’s multiple rooms. You can count yourself lucky, however, to get a reservation at the chef’s table. Located directly in the kitchen, proprietor Ti Martin comments, “It’s like the difference between being in a swimming pool and looking at a swimming pool.” It takes at least a year to secure a reservation at this table for four. The Wine Table is another compelling option, though Ti cautions that eating in the wine cellar is “not the place to wear your sundress.”
General Manager Shanon Ferguson insists that finding the best table at the Bazaar “is about personal preference.” An open space with multiple venues, each with its own décor and vibe, the Bazaar has options to suit any fancy. Our vote goes to the 30-seat communal table in Bar Centro: it’s like being at the center of the party in the midst of a theatrical, one-of-a-kind dining environment.
According to Dining Room Manager Joseph Donion, the smaller, more intimate Florentine and André Tchelistcheff rooms are the most popular among Bern’s regulars. But when it comes to special seating you might just want to skip the main course and go straight to dessert. Set apart from the main dining areas, the Harry Waugh Dessert Room contains private booths made from old wine casks. When else can you eat in a barrel?
The most popular tables in WD-50, according to manager Rachel Carron, are the corner tables of the restaurant’s ten-table row of deuces. Nestled within a 90-degree angle so that each diner can sit on the banquette, the corner tables may be the most romantic. Being a twosome won’t land you the best table, however: the private booths set apart from the crowd are reserved for parties of five or more.
Food-lovers clamor for the two tables nearest the open kitchen at Citronelle. Maître d' Jean-Jacques Retourne describes the setting as “like a show,” with a view into the space where the food comes to life. If drama isn’t your thing, you might opt for the quiet, remote table in the back where Mr. and Mrs. Obama shared a private meal.
Says Blue Hill’s Vice President Irene Hamburger, “Because we’re located within the Stone Barns Center and so closely tied to the farm, we were sure to design the restaurant so that every seat has a view of the farm.” With that view in mind, sitting at the table on the terrace outside — especially during the fall when the leaves are changing- may be as close to eating on the farm as it gets.
Canlis’s Caché Room could be the country's most romantic table. With a view of Seattle’s Lake Union and the Cascade mountains, it seats only two to four people and is “the site of many proposals” according to office manager Ellen Kutscher.
The room even has its own telescope. Kutscher recalls one famous incident: “A woman looked through the telescope to find that her boyfriend had arranged for her friends to stand across the lake holding a sign saying ‘Will You Marry Me?’”
Reservationist Megan Alldis says, “People either want to be close to the kitchen or away from the kitchen — it’s either-or.” Privacy seems to be more of a preference for most Chez Panisse diners, however. The Porch Area, a cozy room overlooking both trees and the street, is the area that gets the most reservation requests.
Zuni Café's owner, Gilbert Pilgram explains, “Our regulars request most of our tables all around. The quirkiness of the space gives us many options. My favorite is table 69 at the top of the stairs where you can see all the action and listen to the piano.” You heard the man.
OK, so there's no maître d', and you can pretty much sit wherever you want (and leave alive if you don't lose your ticket), but there's a myth about Katz's that must be debunked: the best table isn’t the one where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm. The truth is that any seat near the counter without table service is the place to be. Interacting with the at times gruff countermen at Katz’s remains one of the most iconic New York City experiences.