August is supposed to be a slow restaurant season in D.C. Congress leaves town, school's out, it's too hot for some tourists. And with the seemingly endless stream of new restaurant openings, one would think that might spread out the wait times a bit. But as with anything, it's important to do a fact check.
Eater's checked in on wait times before, including during a frigid week in March, but August's summer slump and the heat (93 degrees with a heat index in the 100s) don't seem to deter D.C. diners from hot new restaurants and long-time favorites.
For this spot check, Eater asked how long a walk-in party of two would have to wait on a Friday. Obviously, wait times are highly variable depending on a number of factors like weather, holidays, and sheer luck, so intel should be taken with a grain of salt. But some of the answers were a surprise.
Rose's Luxury: Line starts around 3 p.m. on Fridays
According to a rep from Rose's Luxury, the line on Fridays typically starts around 3 p.m. Like the other restaurants where diners line up early, this doesn't mean that those who show up later won't get in at all. But it does ensure a preferred dining time and an almost-sure seat for those willing to wait more than two hours in the line.
Bad Saint: Line starts around 4:30
At the much lauded Bad Saint, the lines regularly begin forming at 4:30 for the 5:30 opening, according to the restaurant. And this tweet indicates that on a recent Friday there were already 30 diners in line at 4:41. The line is sure to start earlier and get longer with the recent news that it is Bon Appetit's #2 best new restaurant.
5:28, Little Serow: Lines start around 4:30
Walking past Little Serow at 5:28, the line stretched down the block as usual. A quick conversation with the first person in line discovered that he had been waiting since 4:30 for the 5:30 opening. Based on previous experience, those at the end of the line at 5:30 would likely make it into the second seating, which means a couple more hours of waiting before the restaurant texts.
6:42 p.m., The Cheesecake Factory: No wait
Praise the restaurant gods. For once, there was no wait at the Chevy Chase Cheesecake Factory.
6:43 p.m., The Dabney: 45 minutes for the dining room, no wait for the patio
This Bon Appetit Best New Restaurant pick had a 45 minute wait for the dining room. But for those willing to brave the heat, there was no wait to sit on the patio.
6:44 p.m., The Red Hen: 1 hour
This Bloomingdale critical favorite is still buzzing, with an hour wait on a Friday night.
6:45 p.m., Le Diplomate: 1 hour
Even years after opening, the wait time for walk-ins at the popular Le Diplomate was an hour for two people.
6:46 p.m., Toki Underground: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Maybe it's the addition of more ramen restaurants since the last spot check, or the idea of slurping hot noodles in the heat, but the wait for Toki Underground was fairly reasonable (years ago, waits could stretch from 2-4 hours).
6:47 p.m., Founding Farmers: 45 minutes
It seems that a zero-star review from Tom Sietsema has done little to diminish diners' enthusiasm for the Foggy Bottom location of this mini-chain.
6:48 p.m., Hazel: 1.5-2 hours
A call to Hazel was sent to voicemail, but a quick check with a staff member indicated that a typical wait time is 1.5 to 2 hours for this new restaurant near 930 Club.
6:50 p.m. RPM Italian: All tables booked, but may be able to accommodate late diners
This Italian restaurant from reality stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic was all booked up, but the hostess seemed willing to see about possibly accommodating additional diners later in the evening.
6:53 p.m., Bantam King: No wait
More evidence that people's appetite for ramen drops in the summer. The new ramen and fried chicken spot from the Daikaya team had no wait.