Imagine you have a big night coming up. You have an important date or business dinner you’ve been eagerly anticipating for a while. The day arrives and you suddenly realize that you completely forgot to make dinner reservations. You don’t have time to call around to see which restaurants have available seating, you just want a reservation at a great restaurant at a reasonable time for dinner.
OpenTable can solve your dilemma easily. OpenTable is a web site, complete with accompanying apps, that will find available seats for you at your favorite restaurants or suggest new restaurants for you to try. OpenTable has over 20,000 participating restaurants to make sure you have a wide variety of choices, whether you need last-minute dinner reservations or are planning ahead.
You can search for available reservations by going to opentable.com. From there you can search by location or restaurant name. The location can be general, such as Philadelphia, or more specific, such as Penn’s Landing. Enter the date and time and the number in your party.
OpenTable then searches its restaurant reservation database for availability. You are given a chart with the names of restaurants, neighborhoods, types of food, ratings, price ranges, and reservation times. OpenTable shows you availability within an hour before and after your desired reservation time, in case you can be flexible with your dining time. You can also see where the restaurant is located on Google Maps, view menus, see special deals, and reviews for each restaurant. After you’ve made your reservation you can have the confirmation emailed to you and anyone else you choose.
You don’t need to register for OpenTable, but by doing so you can receive notices of special OpenTable offers from participating restaurants. OpenTable also tries to learn your dining preferences and will suggest other restaurants you may enjoy.
If you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you can use OpenTable to help you find restaurants during your trip. OpenTable can suggest restaurants and give you reviews of eateries at your destination. OpenTable covers cities and towns throughout the US and in more than 18 other countries, including the UK, France, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Dubai, and the Caribbean.
Using OpenTable can also save you money. OpenTable often has special deals on restaurants, such as 30% off your bill at top Philadelphia restaurants. When you register with OpenTable, you begin to earn points in the Dining Rewards Program, which you can redeem for gift certificates at participating restaurants. You earn 100 points for every time you use OpenTable to make a reservation for you and at least one other guest. With certain restaurants, you can earn 1000 points. After you earn 20,000 points you can redeem your points for $20 off at an OpenTable restaurant.
My husband and I first used OpenTable when we were on our way to a Philadelphia Orchestra concert. We hadn’t made dinner reservations but my husband was able to get out of work early so we were able to eat before the concert. As he drove, I checked the OpenTable app on my iPhone and found an Italian restaurant near the Kimmel Center called Bella Cena with the following description:
“Our food is as pure, sincere & genuine as mountain spring water. No fusion, no gimmicks, no shenanigans. We remain true to the artisan way of cooking, brought to America by my mother, Clelia, featured in many newspapers & magazines for her award-winning recipes. In the 1950s & ‘60s, in Rome, she cooked for many famous people in the film industry. Her favorite pupil for 15 years, Ugo, is still in the kitchen cooking her delicious recipes for you to enjoy.”
I saw from the app that the restaurant had a table for two available within the hour. I made my reservation, immediately received a confirmation email and was greeted warmly at the restaurant when we arrived. The meal was splendid, making us fans of both Bella Cena and OpenTable.
Have you ever struggled to get a restaurant reservation? Do you enjoy discovering new restaurants? Let us know in the Comments section below!