French Laundry Part 3 - Reserve at the Restaurant and other tips

[UPDATE 16 January 2005 (link)]: Aimee emailed us her tips (thanks) which are:


I just stumbled onto your reservation page for French Laundry, and I
have three methods to add.

  1. Book lunch instead of dinner, the menu is the same.
  2. Book a table for 8 in the special reserved room for 8. I've had three birthday dinners there, all in the private room.
  3. War dialing. Get a bunch of friends together at 9:45am Pacific time, and start dialing. Agree in advance on the acceptable times, and have a group leader. As soon as someone makes it (which they will, because y'all are blocking other calls) then they can talk to the leader over IM to pick an appropriate spot.

Just thought I'd share. I love FL, and I've been relatively successful
getting in. I'm only willing to divulge because I live in Paris now.


[UPDATE 15 January 2005 (link)]:Aren emailed us (thanks) to say that he has some great tips on how to use Open Table to get a reservation.  Check out Aren's How to get reservations at The French Laundry - Tips and Tricks. . Also check out her report on eating at The French Laundry on December 13, 2004.

[UPDATE 17 August 2003 (link)]:

Another success! Zuzana Ponca successfully made a reservation. Here's her story.


Dear Roland- thank you so much for your French Laundry writeup which proved to be the MOST helpful guide on how to get a reservations @ FL. I was able to get a reservation when I showed up in person 2 months ahead, at 9am (this was a Saturday). I was 4th in line and got the last 2-person reservation on thatdate. Prior to that I tried calling and calling, and was only able to get onthe waiting list after hours of mad redialing. I am very excited, there arejust so many great things I heard about the dining experience.

Thanks again for all the information!!!!! Zuzana


[UPDATE 23 July 2003 (link)]: Anonymous email tip on how best to use to get a French Laundry Reservation:

Regarding TFL on OpenTable... Try their new "next available table" feature. Ifyou do a search and get no open reservations, you can ask it to look 30 daysinto the future, regardless of time or date. This will reveal any recent webcancellations. Your best bet is to try it in the morning (pre 10:00am) afterpeople may have canceled any of their online reservations the night before, butbefore the live reservationist gets a chance to fill them in from phone calls. We found a Saturday dinner table only three days in advance! Also, tryalternating searches for a party of 2 AND THEN a party of 4. The two tablesmade available per seating only allow that EXACT number of people in each party. I hope this helps.

[UPDATE 26 May 2003 (link)] - Added info about two tables available through based on these two posts from the San Francisco Bay Area Board. I think this method is just as unlikely to be successful and just as frustrating as trying to reserve by phone from out of the state or from Canada. IMHO, the best method is still to reserve in person or (if you can afford it) to stay in one of the expensive local hotels and get the concierge to do it for you.

[UPDATE 3 November 2002 (link)] We have been emailing back and forth with one of our readers, David Kluz . We told him that we heard that if you appear in person at the restaurant two months before, it is easier to get a reservation than by phone. And he used this tactic to successfully get a reservation! Congrats, David! We are so jealous!

So here is our current revised list of the best ways to get a reservation. Good luck! If anybody has anything further to add to the list below as well as a review, please let us know and we will link to your review and update the list. DISCLAIMER: We have no affiliation with the restaurant and no way to verify that this information is correct. Use it at your own risk!

  1. Show up in person at the restaurant at 9:30a.m. or sooner exactly two months before you want to eat there. Reservations are taken in the lobby of the restaurant. When David Kluz made his reservation last week, he showed up at 9:45, two groups were ahead of him, reservations were taken in the lobby starting at 9:55, 1/3 of the reservations appeared to be already taken by VIPs and the phone rang non-stop while he waited. David mentioned that they don' have much room for parties of more than four, so choose your dining companions wisely :-)!
  2. If you can't show up in person, then call (again two months before). However as we wrote in Part 1 and Part 2, it is extremely difficult to get a reservation this way, especially if you are out of town.
  3. If you are on the waiting list, call a couple of days before, the day before and the day off to see if you were successful in getting off the waiting list and getting a reservation.
  4. If you don't get a reservation and the waiting list doesn't work out, call between 4-5:30p.m. and see if they have a last minute cancellation for that day. To do this, you need to be flexible as to the time you want to eat and you need to have a car or some means of transportation that can get you there quickly and at a moment's notice.
  5. Try to reserve online two months in advance from's French Laundry Page. You must reserve two months in advance starting at midnight Pacific time (not specified or confirmed what time zone but since OpenTable is based in California this is the most likely). Tables for parties of two and four available for both Lunch and Dinner. Here's the skinny direct from the OpenTable French Laundry FAQ:"How many tables are available ONLINE daily? Two tables are available online for DINNER service nightly: one at 6:00 pm (party of 2) and one at 9:30 pm (party of 4). Two tables are also available online for LUNCH service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday: one at @ 11:00 am (party of 4) and one at 11:15 am (party of 2). Please note that you must select a Party Size of 4 in your search to see availability for the tables of 4."
  6. Pay $1400 to intern there, get a job there or find some connection or other way to become a VIP. That way you will skip all of the above and have priority.

[ORIGINAL article written in October 2002]:

Although we wrote that we didn't get into the French Laundry, people still write us and ask us what the conclusion was to our French Laundry Saga Part 1 and French Laundry Saga Part 2.

Unfortunately we did not get in (but we ate at lots of other great places)! However, here's one tip that might help others who want to eat there.

Since we don't have lots of money at the moment, we didn't really pursue it but we heard that if you are flexible in terms of time and call between 4 and 5:30p.m., you can often times get a cancellation.

So if you really want to go there but can't get a reservation, call daily between 4 and 5:30 and be ready to go there at a moment's notice. For those who don't live in the Bay Area, this means you probably have to have a car. Luckily it's not very far away from San Francisco and it's an easy day trip if you can't afford to or don't want to stay in Napa Valley.