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Critically-acclaimed Bad Saint can accommodate just two dozen people at a time.
Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media

D.C.’s 13 Toughest Tables

Plan ahead to score a seat at these crazy popular restaurants

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Critically-acclaimed Bad Saint can accommodate just two dozen people at a time.
| Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media

While hundreds of dining rooms across the city compete for business every single day, a select few manage to pack the house on a nightly basis. Nabbing a table at one of Washington’s most sought after restaurants is an exercise in both patience and perseverance. Even the most adept planners can be left off the guest list or forced to wait for hours with little luck.

Some establishments, such as the Michelin-starred Dabney, release batches of reservations weeks in advance, which are promptly snatched up save for a few non-peak dining hour slots. Others cater exclusively to walk-ins, leading to long lines at compact spaces including critically acclaimed Himitsu and Bad Saint. Even high-priced meals like those at double Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls remain elusive.

Here are 13 of the toughest reservations in the District right now, from white-hot newcomers to cherished mainstays.

Note: The featured restaurants are not ranked. The map is arranged geographically from north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Himitsu

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The accolades keep coming for this alluring Petworth restaurant known for its raw seafood preparations, creative uses of vegetables and proteins, and unique cocktails. Reservations are not accepted, and the restaurant only accommodates parties of four or fewer due to its intimate dining room. Be prepared to arrive early and wait at one of the other bars along Upshur Street until seats open up.

The tightly knit bar at Himitsu.
Samantha L./Yelp

Bad Saint

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Adventurous diners have been lining up for a taste of chef Tom Cunanan’s Filipino cooking since the very beginning; Bad Saint was recognized in 2017 as one of Eater’s 38 Essential Restaurants in America. The restaurant accepts walk-ins only, limited to groups of four or fewer. Lines are practically guaranteed before its 5:30 p.m. opening time, with hopeful customers known to arrive hours earlier.

There’s a handful of seats at the front counter facing the street at Bad Saint.
Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media

Tail Up Goat

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Gourmet pastas, outside-the-box breads, and shareable lamb ribs make this Michelin-starred restaurant an Adams Morgan destination. Tail Up Goat’s Mediterranean and Caribbean influences extend through the wine and cocktail program as well. Reservations go live at 10 a.m. each Monday and can be made up to 28 days in advance; they are restricted to parties of five or fewer. Walk-ins can try their luck at the 16-seat bar or add their names to the nightly wait list.

Customers seated in the main dining room at Tail Up Goat.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

A Rake's Progress

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With a location inside the hip Line hotel and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning pedigree, it’s little surprise that tables at A Rake’s Progress are so highly coveted. Chef Spike Gjerde features ingredients exclusively from the Mid-Atlantic region, which means coming up with innovative solutions to replace things like sugar and citrus. Many of the featured dishes are prepared over the kitchen’s wood-fired hearth.

The main dining room at A Rake’s Progress.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Compass Rose (itself an exercise in waiting patiently before eating) founder Rose Previte has another hot ticket on her hands with Maydan, where the intriguing decor and flame-licked food transport diners to the bustling town squares of the Middle East and North Africa.. Reservations are being booked weeks in advance for a chance to taste the dishes, a majority of which are cooked over the restaurant’s wood-fired grill.

Tables and chairs at Maydan
The upstairs dining room at Maydan.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Little Serow

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With no phone line and no reservations, queuing along 17th Street NW is required to partake in this prix fixe adventure through Northern Thai cooking. Dinner costs $49 per person and includes a range of dishes (expect some serious spice) with no substitutions. As is the case with most small restaurants, only parties of four or fewer will be seated. Little Serow is closed Sundays and Mondays, furthering the challenge of landing a seat.

Customers planted in some of the precious few seats at Little Serow.
Lillie Z./Yelp

This Michelin-starred tasting room does take reservations, but expect to compete against other local diners enamored with chef Johnny Monis’ masterful Mediterranean cooking. Weeknights are the best bet to score a spot on short notice. The restaurant notes that weekends generally book up a month in advance. Dinner is $150 per person with wine pairings available for an additional $85.

The main dining room at Komi.
Emily Y./Yelp

The Dabney

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Set a reminder to book reservations at this Blagden Alley hotspot, where tables are released two weeks to the calendar day. Chef Jeremiah Langhorne has earned repeat Michelin stars for his Mid-Atlantic cooking. The dining room is known for its open kitchen and wood hearth. If a booking remains elusive, try heading to its newly opened downstairs wine bar instead.

Customers in the Dabney’s main dining room.
Dabney/Facebook

Métier

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James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Eric Ziebold’s Michelin-starred, tasting menu-centric restaurant accepts reservations a month in advance of the calendar date, requiring a $150 deposit at the time of booking. Men are asked to wear jackets to dinner, which includes a multi-course meal with appetizers and cocktails served in the adjoining salon for $200 (service included).

The subterranean dining room at Metier.
Metier/Facebook

More than a dozen years into its career, the original Rasika keeps customers coming back for more. Online reservations are nearly impossible to find during peak dining times, no matter what day of the week. That’s especially true with larger parties. The reward though, is fantastic Indian cooking from James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam.

The intimate chef’s counter at the flagship Rasika in Penn Quarter.
Hazel C./Yelp

Most people who come to co-founders Danny Lee and Scott Drewno’s Chinese-Korean mashup enjoy bowls of bulgogi-style rib-eye and rice cakes or “orange-ish” chicken at one of the communal tables, or just take everything to go. The most savvy diners take their meals at the four-person chef’s counter. There are two seatings nightly (6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.) featuring a $50 feast (tax, tips, and drinks excluded) composed of the most popular menu items. An added bonus: a front row view of all the action.

The exclusive chef’s counter at Chiko.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Pineapple and Pearls

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This double-Michelin starred restaurant along Barracks Row releases reservations at 10 a.m. on Mondays for dates five weeks in advance. Bookings require online registration and a 50 percent deposit. The website interface offers a few one-off bookings for the coming days, arranged by party size and location (dining room or bar). So while rare, it’s possible to find a match without planning weeks ahead.

The truffled ice cream sundae bar (with caviar) at Pineapple and Pearls.
Alice W./Yelp

Rose's Luxury

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Rose’s Luxury might be the older and more casual sibling of Pineapple and Pearls, but it’s no less popular. Lines routinely stretch blocks down the main drag of Barracks Row for a shot at James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Aaron Silverman’s cooking, which is both approachable and imaginative.

Customers eating in part of the downstairs dining room at Rose’s Luxury.
Rose’s Luxury/Facebook

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Himitsu

The tightly knit bar at Himitsu.
Samantha L./Yelp

The accolades keep coming for this alluring Petworth restaurant known for its raw seafood preparations, creative uses of vegetables and proteins, and unique cocktails. Reservations are not accepted, and the restaurant only accommodates parties of four or fewer due to its intimate dining room. Be prepared to arrive early and wait at one of the other bars along Upshur Street until seats open up.

The tightly knit bar at Himitsu.
Samantha L./Yelp

Bad Saint

There’s a handful of seats at the front counter facing the street at Bad Saint.
Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media

Adventurous diners have been lining up for a taste of chef Tom Cunanan’s Filipino cooking since the very beginning; Bad Saint was recognized in 2017 as one of Eater’s 38 Essential Restaurants in America. The restaurant accepts walk-ins only, limited to groups of four or fewer. Lines are practically guaranteed before its 5:30 p.m. opening time, with hopeful customers known to arrive hours earlier.

There’s a handful of seats at the front counter facing the street at Bad Saint.
Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media

Tail Up Goat

Customers seated in the main dining room at Tail Up Goat.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Gourmet pastas, outside-the-box breads, and shareable lamb ribs make this Michelin-starred restaurant an Adams Morgan destination. Tail Up Goat’s Mediterranean and Caribbean influences extend through the wine and cocktail program as well. Reservations go live at 10 a.m. each Monday and can be made up to 28 days in advance; they are restricted to parties of five or fewer. Walk-ins can try their luck at the 16-seat bar or add their names to the nightly wait list.

Customers seated in the main dining room at Tail Up Goat.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

A Rake's Progress

The main dining room at A Rake’s Progress.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

With a location inside the hip Line hotel and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning pedigree, it’s little surprise that tables at A Rake’s Progress are so highly coveted. Chef Spike Gjerde features ingredients exclusively from the Mid-Atlantic region, which means coming up with innovative solutions to replace things like sugar and citrus. Many of the featured dishes are prepared over the kitchen’s wood-fired hearth.

The main dining room at A Rake’s Progress.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Maydan

Tables and chairs at Maydan
The upstairs dining room at Maydan.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Compass Rose (itself an exercise in waiting patiently before eating) founder Rose Previte has another hot ticket on her hands with Maydan, where the intriguing decor and flame-licked food transport diners to the bustling town squares of the Middle East and North Africa.. Reservations are being booked weeks in advance for a chance to taste the dishes, a majority of which are cooked over the restaurant’s wood-fired grill.

Tables and chairs at Maydan
The upstairs dining room at Maydan.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Little Serow

Customers planted in some of the precious few seats at Little Serow.
Lillie Z./Yelp

With no phone line and no reservations, queuing along 17th Street NW is required to partake in this prix fixe adventure through Northern Thai cooking. Dinner costs $49 per person and includes a range of dishes (expect some serious spice) with no substitutions. As is the case with most small restaurants, only parties of four or fewer will be seated. Little Serow is closed Sundays and Mondays, furthering the challenge of landing a seat.

Customers planted in some of the precious few seats at Little Serow.
Lillie Z./Yelp

Komi

The main dining room at Komi.
Emily Y./Yelp

This Michelin-starred tasting room does take reservations, but expect to compete against other local diners enamored with chef Johnny Monis’ masterful Mediterranean cooking. Weeknights are the best bet to score a spot on short notice. The restaurant notes that weekends generally book up a month in advance. Dinner is $150 per person with wine pairings available for an additional $85.

The main dining room at Komi.
Emily Y./Yelp

The Dabney

Customers in the Dabney’s main dining room.
Dabney/Facebook

Set a reminder to book reservations at this Blagden Alley hotspot, where tables are released two weeks to the calendar day. Chef Jeremiah Langhorne has earned repeat Michelin stars for his Mid-Atlantic cooking. The dining room is known for its open kitchen and wood hearth. If a booking remains elusive, try heading to its newly opened downstairs wine bar instead.

Customers in the Dabney’s main dining room.
Dabney/Facebook

Métier

The subterranean dining room at Metier.
Metier/Facebook

James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Eric Ziebold’s Michelin-starred, tasting menu-centric restaurant accepts reservations a month in advance of the calendar date, requiring a $150 deposit at the time of booking. Men are asked to wear jackets to dinner, which includes a multi-course meal with appetizers and cocktails served in the adjoining salon for $200 (service included).

The subterranean dining room at Metier.
Metier/Facebook

Rasika

The intimate chef’s counter at the flagship Rasika in Penn Quarter.
Hazel C./Yelp

More than a dozen years into its career, the original Rasika keeps customers coming back for more. Online reservations are nearly impossible to find during peak dining times, no matter what day of the week. That’s especially true with larger parties. The reward though, is fantastic Indian cooking from James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam.

The intimate chef’s counter at the flagship Rasika in Penn Quarter.
Hazel C./Yelp

Chiko

The exclusive chef’s counter at Chiko.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Most people who come to co-founders Danny Lee and Scott Drewno’s Chinese-Korean mashup enjoy bowls of bulgogi-style rib-eye and rice cakes or “orange-ish” chicken at one of the communal tables, or just take everything to go. The most savvy diners take their meals at the four-person chef’s counter. There are two seatings nightly (6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.) featuring a $50 feast (tax, tips, and drinks excluded) composed of the most popular menu items. An added bonus: a front row view of all the action.

The exclusive chef’s counter at Chiko.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Pineapple and Pearls

The truffled ice cream sundae bar (with caviar) at Pineapple and Pearls.
Alice W./Yelp

This double-Michelin starred restaurant along Barracks Row releases reservations at 10 a.m. on Mondays for dates five weeks in advance. Bookings require online registration and a 50 percent deposit. The website interface offers a few one-off bookings for the coming days, arranged by party size and location (dining room or bar). So while rare, it’s possible to find a match without planning weeks ahead.

The truffled ice cream sundae bar (with caviar) at Pineapple and Pearls.
Alice W./Yelp

Rose's Luxury

Customers eating in part of the downstairs dining room at Rose’s Luxury.
Rose’s Luxury/Facebook

Rose’s Luxury might be the older and more casual sibling of Pineapple and Pearls, but it’s no less popular. Lines routinely stretch blocks down the main drag of Barracks Row for a shot at James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Aaron Silverman’s cooking, which is both approachable and imaginative.

Customers eating in part of the downstairs dining room at Rose’s Luxury.
Rose’s Luxury/Facebook

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