The Best Days Of The Week To Eat At Restaurants (Hint: It's Not The Weekend)

In just about any city, an impromptu visit to a popular restaurant usually comes with a long wait time, stressed staff, and a noisy, crowded environment; that is if you go during the weekend. While it is nice to have dinner with a date or unwind with friends during brunch over the weekend, in many ways, the best days to eat out are actually earlier in the week.

Most restaurants are less crowded on weekday evenings, especially on Mondays, Tuesdays, and possibly even Wednesdays. You'll likely have less wait time and be able to enjoy a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere too. But it's not just more relaxing for you. The staff may also feel less stressed since the hectic weekend and Sunday brunch crowd are behind them, and a less crowded restaurant means staff won't feel as rushed, resulting in better service.

Iconic chef and food writer Antony Bourdain shared his insight into the best nights to eat out in New York City in his first book "Kitchen Confidential," and his 1999 New Yorker article. At the time, he promoted Tuesday as the best night to eat out in his city. Part of his reasoning was that after surviving the weekend rush of tourists and crowds of theater-goers, restaurant workers enjoy serving the regulars and locals they serve early on in the week. Bourdain wrote. " ... it's on Tuesday that you've got the goodwill of the kitchen on your side." 

While a lot has changed over the past couple of decades, if you are a regular at your favorite restaurant or a frequent visitor to a neighborhood joint, you may still notice a similar pattern.

Other benefits to early weeknight dining

The slower pace isn't the only upside. Weeknights tend to attract a more mellow crowd. Mondays, in particular, are often the least busy nights for restaurants. Many restaurants are closed to give staff a much-deserved break after the weekend rush, so be sure to check whether the restaurant you're hoping to visit is open. Those that are open sometimes host industry nights, in which they offer discounts to fellow restaurant workers who dine there. It gives staff the chance to serve (and show off to) their peers who have the night off. Such nights attract a savvy dining crowd, including neighborhood locals and regulars that the staff enjoys serving. You may also benefit from a little extra goodwill if you dine out on such nights.

The more relaxed pace on Monday through Wednesday might even result in special treatment. If your meal out is for a special occasion like a wedding proposal or birthday, the staff feels less pressure to turn over the table for the next party (giving you more time to linger and celebrate) and may feel more enthusiastic about helping with your special moment.

You may also save money while trying something new. Some restaurants offer promotional pricing, set menus, or happy hours to tempt people to go out on weeknights. These promotional menus may even include dishes the chef is experimenting with, making them especially attractive if you're an adventurous eater looking to try something new. While most restaurants are less crowded early in the week, there are exceptions, especially if the restaurant caters to a population who eats out during the week.

It all comes down to your personal preferences

Not everyone agrees that the slowest nights are best, Charlie McVeigh, who owns Draft House pub in London, told the Guardian that going early on a busy night may lead to the best experience. He argues that on the standard dining-out nights, ​​"Everyone will be on their A-game." If you enjoy the high-energy atmosphere of a busy restaurant, your best night out may still be Saturday night.

Whatever vibe you prefer, Google Maps offers information about the busiest days and times at many businesses, including restaurants. Check the Google Maps information about your favorite restaurants. Often the least busy nights are Monday through Wednesday, but this may vary by the place. A restaurant in the financial district that caters to business dinners may actually be busier on certain weeknights than during the weekend. Google Maps can help you learn whether a restaurant you want to try has an unusual pattern.

Finally, pay attention to any special promotions at your favorite restaurants. Happy hour, mid-week set meals, and other promotions are usually designed to tempt diners to come out on slower nights. After all, if the night is fully booked with reservations, there is no need to offer discounts or special promotions, so this indicates it may be a slower night.

When it comes to dining out, the best night is the one that offers the experience you're looking for. Many people who prefer a more relaxed vibe overlook Monday or Tuesday nights, which actually might be their best option. Others who seek a high-energy experience may still prefer traditional weekend dining.