I hate waiting at restaurants. I’m not a total prima donna—well, I’m a partial prima donna—but I really value the time I have with friends and family, and generally waiting an hour isn’t something I’m interested in.
I’m not being crazy here: I’ll happily wait 10 or 15 minutes for a table, rather than getting in my car and driving 15 minutes to go somewhere else. And if I make a reservation, I don’t mind waiting a couple minutes based on the flow of the room.
But are there restaurants that are worth a long wait?
Monday night two friends, my wife, and I went to Tilia in South Minneapolis. At Tilia, you will wait. You know you will wait. It’s part of the deal. On their website, they warn you: “As a 40-seat eatery, Tilia is big on fun and flavor, but small in size. For this reason we do not accept reservations.”
The restaurant is small and red-hot. I thought I’d be OK at 7:30 p.m. on a Monday, but alas, I waited for an hour.
After I was seated—we had an incredible server, incredible food, and I tweeted: “No surprise, but the one hour wait at @tiliampls was totally worth it. @andrewzimmern is so right about the chicken thighs – AMAZING.”
To borrow a phrase from my TV gig: Good Question.
It’s mostly about the food. If the food is spectacular, I don’t mind the wait. The potted meat, the escargot, the chicken thighs, the braised kale with figs, the arctic char… it was fantastic.
It’s also about the space. The bar is welcoming. The neighborhood is cute. You can wander. It works.
And it’s about the service. I’ve heard many complaints about the service at Tilia, but I’ve had nothing but great luck there.
Most places in town take reservations—and I imagine it helps them manage their guest flow as much as it helps you and me manage our lives. With young kids, there’s virtually nowhere I’m willing to wait with them. This makes my Friday night dinner choices difficult.
But are there places you’d be willing to wait more than 30 minutes for dinner? Include places that do take reservations—because almost all hold back tables for walk-ins.
Where isn’t it worth the wait? And how do you feel about restaurants not taking reservations?