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The Worst (and Best) Nights to go out (in order) [moved from General Board]

1) St Patrick's Day - Far too many guys with far too much to prove.
2) New Year's Eve - Always anti-climatic and the restaurant/bar specials are always a rip off.
3) Wednesday before Thanksgiving - Never as great as it ought to be.
4) Cinqo de Mayo/Mardi Gras - If you're not French or Mexican (or from New Orleans) what's the point?
5) Any Friday or Saturday night before midnight - weekly amateur night with "b&t" crowd rudely screaming at bar staff for yet another round of "Captain and Diet".

1) Halloween - Creative and interesting people desirous to socialize (i.e talk about their costume).
2) Christmas/Thanksgiving night - Great night for all those who have had their fill of the "family" from earlier on in the day.
3) Any Sunday or Monday night - Waitstaff are usually off on Mondays and are out (usually a fun crowd). Most of the conventional "9-5" crowd are at home getting ready for Monday.

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  1. I would like to nominate February 14th - Valentines Night. Isn't there something cringworthy in sitting in a restaurant surrounded by couples that have to wait for a date on the calender to demonstrate their romanticism.

    To me its akin to waiting until the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve to celebrate life. Shouldn't we live each moment joyfully!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: loobcom

      Yes! But Valentine's day is SO contrived it really didn't require a mention. But yes it is terrible night to go out.

      1. re: Chinon00

        V-day is the only day of the year on which I am adamant about avoid going out to eat. The other days, I'd rather avoid crowds but certainly don't have any other reason to avoid restaurants. But V-day is such a revolting excuse to raise prices on bad food...

    2. But it's Mother's Day that is the busiest day AND night of the year--probably for every restaurant. It's not just long, late turns, like at New Year's Eve. It's brunches or lunches AND dinners, with a full house at 5/5:30, and then at least one more turn (depending on how late people eat in a given city.) Plus, Mother's Day is almost all large parties (meaning tables shoved together that aren't typically), kitchens backed up with big orders and special requests (mommy's do like sauce on the side...), relatives that might not necessarily enjoy one another's company EXCEPT for such obligatory occasions, and the awkward show of temperance at the table--at least, servers will tell you that bar tabs plummet when everyone's celebrating dearest mommy and not the years of self-medicating booze therapy her parenting has prompted.
      So unless you need to go out to celebrate with your own mother, Mother's Day is THE night to stay home...maybe cook up one of your mother's legendary recipes no restaurant could ever duplicate.

      1. Worst

        1. Three-way tie: Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve & Mother's Day.
        4. Easter Sunday brunch (in Boston, if this falls on Patriot's Day Weekend (i.e., Marathon Eve), it joins the above)
        5. Restaurant Week
        6. Graduation weekends (mid-May to early June in greater Boston)
        7. In terms of food and service as a general matter, Saturday nights and Sunday all day. Food is more distant from delivery dates (i.e., the classic rule against ordering fish on Sundays; live shellfish is a better bet for seafood), and crowds make everybody testier; Sundays may have a second-string staff in the kitchen (who can be better, or worse...)


        1. In terms of food and service as a general matter, Tuesday through Thursday. Fridays can be included for places not inflicted with post-work crowds.

        2. Thanksgiving (and possibly Christmas). Theoretically, it should be among the worst (and some places deserve that), but in my experience the traditional food choice are hard to truly screw up and lend themselves to the demands of the day. Most patrons seem to try to remember the point of the day, and seem grateful that the staff is there to help them out (and that they have no dishes to clean!). At least that's my impression from several times of this over the past 25 years.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          Karl S
          -1-4,6 and 7- full agreement!
          - restaurant week in St Louis has not really taken off so you should try it some time. I made it to Monday, Tuesday and Weds out before needing to stay home and have a light omlete supper. all the meals were well served and seemed to be a fair representaion of their best efforts(some better than others of course). The pri-fix was handy as the cefs had some interesting options they wanted featured.
          -we live next door to a niversity where we get some crazy random weekends- guad-help you if you want to grab a bite on parent's weekend!

        2. Absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt, first place has to go to Valentine's Day. It barely edges out Mother's Day; the difference is that more restaurants have a "special" (which, translated to English, means "cooked two days ago") menu on Valentine's Day, from which it is not possible to deviate in any way, since the kitchen is overwhelmed with people who simply have to have it Just Right.

          I will not go out on Valentine's Day; my wife and I build a cozy nest in front of the fireplace, I clip roses from the yard (hooray for being in LA and having roses in February!), and I make a meal of finger foods for us.

          I know some people that go out on the 13th instead; this doesn't work for me, because service is 'off' as they prepare for the onslaught. I could be convinced to go on the 15th, but I wouldn't dare order a special.

          Mother's Day is a real PITA too, because you have large squalling crowds, and it's probably the worst day for waitstaff because EVERYONE is cranky and picky and SO much food gets sent back, but it isn't as bad as V-Day, at least from the consumer's point of view.

          I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Black Friday, especially if you're anywhere near a shopping mall. Two hour waits aren't uncommon. We do go shopping on Black Friday, but are done by lunch.

          The best day to go out to eat? Wednesday nights, while American Idol is on.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I hadn't thought about the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to use the BF moniker that the media has stolen from retail staff to turn the day into a story that is *never* newsworthy, but I digress), because of leftovers! Alternatively, I have turned the day into Fondue Friday when enough friends are back in town from visiting family....

          2. Oooh, I'm reading these replies and feeling that sometimes perhaps some 'hounds are just a wee bit spoiled and cynical because we may dine out more than average folk.

            Yes, Valentine's Day is not a good chowhound's day to dine out but I have and have dined well. It's just a matter of choosing where to go. It's one of those biggie holidays and the restaurants know it and are overbooked, overtaxed and expectations run high by the dining public.

            Mother's Day is statistically supposed to be the biggest restaurant day of the year. Why? Many Moms just don't go out that much and this is their Big Day - I'm not going to be a grinch about it. I used to take my Mom out and was happy to do so - anything to make her happy. If hounds don't like the crowds that one day in May, well there's 364 other days of the year.

            Well, I guess from the above, it's apparent how I feel. I know I have my favorite restaurants in New York and I stay away from the must-go-tos on big holidays and I let others enjoy their holiday. Live and let live. Amen.

            1. I don't know if this is still true but I heard that Monday night is the worst night to eat out in Chinese restaurants as this is the head chef's night off.

              St. Patrick's Day, IMO, is not even a dining night, because everybody seems to serve corned beef & cabbage and green beer and it's a good excuse to get drunk. In Manhattan there's an overflow of people on the streets from local bars and to say it's boistrous is quite an understatement. When this holiday falls on a weekend it's even worse.

              1. I can't STAND eating out on Valentine's Day, but then, I eat out just about every day, so the last thing I want is to fight for space with everyone else in the world!

                NYE is also one to avoid as is Mother's Day when all the crack-pots and their ill-behaved urchins are out!

                I actually LIKE the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as it has to be one of the quietest dining days. That, and the Friday following TG.

                As far as regular days of the week go, Sunday nights are bad as nothing tends to be open, the food can be hit of miss, and the service sucks.

                I'm with Bourdain in saying the Tuesday nights are the best nights. If dining for pleasure, I'll pick Tuesday or Thursday.

                But, all of this depends on the city you're in. Some towns are very weekend heavy dining destinations (New Orleans), while others, like D.C., are pretty dead weekends, but thrive during the week.


                1. I've modified my best-day-to-go-to-Disney rule:

                  Super Bowl Sunday is the best (but only for places without televisions).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Covert Ops

                    Except for the fact that it's always a Sunday and food that relies on being fresh-from-delivery suffers.... But it is a night blissfully free from crowds.

                    1. re: Covert Ops

                      Super Bowl Sunday is the best time to fly anywhere in America (except possibly the host city). Airports are quiet and planes are empty!


                      1. re: TexasToast

                        Right. For the same reason (especially January weather in Florida) it's the best time to go to Walt Disney World.

                    2. I think TexasToast is right. It depends on the city. Here in DC, Saturday nights are not bad since the expense account folks aren't dining out. But I think that Wednesday is the best day of the week. The regular chef is on duty, if the restaurant has wine specials, it is usually available Mon-Wed. and the weekend crowd hasn't started up yet and who pays for a babysitter on Wednesday.

                      I never eat out on Valentines Day, Mother's Day or New Year's Eve. However, Restaurant Week can be ok if you are judicious.