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Dining at the Bar

I find that often the best service in a resturant is at the bar. Your drinks are always full, the food comes out quickly, and bartenders either chat with you or leave you alone, depending on what you want.

However, I have friends who just hate sitting at the bar. Even for happy hour. We will go to a place where we know the floor service is slow, and still they prefer a table. And I'm talking about 3-4 people, who can easily hold a conversation at a bar. What's the hangup? I prefer sitting at a table when I want privacy or romance, but the bar is sometimes a lot better for small social outings.

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  1. I agree with you. But I think for some people (and I do find it this way myself sometimes) the linear arrangement at the bar isn't as nice for talking.

    1. One thing about happy hour is that it's supposed to be relaxing. I find sitting at a table to be more relaxing because I can lean back in a chair, put my feet up if we have space, and not have to worry about people leaning too close to me at the bar. If it's myself and one or two people, we can do the bar thing, but I often find myself in groups of 6 or more, which makes the bar impossible anyway.

      1. I loathe bar stools. I look like an idiot trying to heft my fat butt up on a bar stool, and then spend my entire time there uncomfortable, since it's impossible to relax on them. Whether dining alone or with others, I'll always opt for chairs where my feet touch the ground.

        1. It seems to be mostly women who hate bar stools (I'm female, by the way). I'm short and my feet don't hit the rail, but I still prefer to get my drinks quickly and not have to wait for the server to come my way.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mojoeater

            I like it when my feet dangle. And if it's just me and one other person, it's the best place.

          2. i love to eat at the bar- I always sit at the bar at Acquolina and have also at Colbourne lane- only way I can sit so close to my husband without looking like a fool (can't stand sitting on the same side of the table if we're alone!)

            1 Reply
            1. re: nummanumma

              also love to eat at the bar. same reasons as above, easy to get drinks and quicker service for food. plus you can eat appetizers without the server being annoyed you are not eating entrees.

            2. i frequently dine solo, so prefer the bar. with one or two friends, we'll usually eat at the bar. however, some bartenders need to learn the fine art of shut the h*ll up. if we go in and he or she is on, we'll opt for someplace else.

              b/f always prefers a table though.

              4 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I agree that the service at the bar is usually really good. The reason I don't like to eat there is because of that edge or lip that's usually between me and my plate. I'm short so my feet dangle and then I don't have any way to get leverage.

                1. re: PDeveaux

                  i'm short too. i was just at a place yesterday where the stools were so low and the bar was so high it was truly uncomfortable. the bar was at chest height. i kept wondering if the wrong size stools arrived before opening and they just decided to keep them, rather than hassling a return. i won't eat at the bar there again!

                2. re: hotoynoodle

                  I like eating solo sometimes, with a book. It's a bit of a luxury. Bar is perfect for that, and the bartender won't bother you overly.

                  1. re: Perkyshai

                    i love that too! you usually get better, more immediate service at the bar, which is a huge plus if you're all by yourself. when you're sitting with others at a table, service lapses are much less noticable because you're talking with your companions. i like to eat at the bar alone or with 1 other person and watch how the restaurant works-- very good for evaluating the general competance of the staff of a place that's new to me.

                3. Eating solo on the road a lot, the bar is great, so I have a general liking to the bar.

                  Two people - can be very intimate or an outright disaster. If it is a congenial place it can be very private and cozy for two. Or it could be where there are pushers, yellers, side intruders (the guy who turns sideways and pushes between the two of you to order another drink) and general yutzes and then no fun at all
                  Above two - There will be one or two people who will look like a bobble head from turning to the left and the right and the two people at the end will have a crick intheir respective necks by the end of the evening.

                  So for two people it depends on the bar itself, for more tha two, i like a table.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jfood

                    My SO and I almost always sit at the bar, and have managed to perfect the art of keeping people from pushing between us. And we've gotten to know the bartenders at our favorite spots, so often get freebies!

                  2. Unless the bar is jampacked, the bar is always my favorite place to eat too.
                    Unlike a server on the floor, the bartender is always in his/her section. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide :) Almost always best service.
                    As a bartender I like to spread the love too of course.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: momof3

                      The bar for happy hour with a max of 3 people is fine with me. I don't really like to eat at the bar but will if pressed. I spent a week with a friend in Calif. and that is all we did - never sat at a table - what a bore after awhile. JMHO, Linda

                    2. We love to eat at a bar, and agree with you completely regarding service for both food and drinks. Although we almost always eat at the bar when it's just the two of us, with three we find it a bit challenging, and would not think of doing it with four…the two end people cannot interact at all.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: josephnl

                        four people can be accomodated easily if you can find a bar that has a corner: two on one side of the corner, the other two on the 'facing" side.
                        my favorite bar is a "U" shaped bar, so there are two corners with which to work.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Agree completely, but not all bars have corners, and very few restaurants will accept reservations for bar seating, and I know of no way to assure that corner seating will be available.

                      2. i LOVE LOVE LOVE to dine at the bar.
                        i love bars that serve liquor.
                        i love "chef's bars" that look into the kitchen.

                        i just love dining at bars.
                        the food tastes better
                        the booze tastes better
                        dunno exactly why everything is better at a bar.
                        it's completely nonsensical, but it's my strong perception.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: westsidegal

                          ,,,and after a few trips and nice tips the booze usually flows freebie with more and nicer tips.

                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            even without freebies, i like bar service/food more.
                            one of the restaurants on my regular rotation, Lukshon, has a chef's bar that overlooks the kitchen. that bar is my preferred place to sit at Lukshon.

                            the last time i was there, as he was plating my entree, the chef said, "i wonder how many times i've made this steamed cod for you? when i see you walk in the door, i know to get started." for some, completely irrational reason, the steamed cod tasted even better to me after that remark. he gave me the feeling that he was cooking "for me" not just for an anonymous diner.
                            i guess there is "freebie" side helping of "personal connection" that enhances my meals there every time i go.
                            they know what i order and i've taken the time to express what is is about each dish makes it so special/terrific/unique to me.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              It's not just about the freebies. Bar service is almost always better, especially if the wait staff is made up of college kids.

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                Where I usually go, the bartenders are "old pros" and definitely not kids. They know their "regulars" and are smart enough to always treat them well

                          2. re: westsidegal

                            +1 ...and the drinks and wine pours are almost always better at the bar, especially when the bartender knows you are a good tipper!

                            1. re: josephnl

                              sometimes yes and sometimes no.
                              my favorite "neighborhood" bar, the place where "everyone knows your name" never varies in their pour size.
                              every single drink is served to the rim of the glass.
                              obviously, their wine is not "fine" wine and the glasses they use are not designed to leave space for breathing or any such thing.
                              their martinis, their wine, their shots, are all served to the rim all the time.
                              the glassware does the measuring.

                          3. I love to eat at the bar! As one that travels alone a lot it just seems more comfortable. I might sit for half an hour before I even order food, and there's always someone to chat with if you desire. Also, I don't feel rushed if I want to sip on a drink while I watch a game or read a newspaper. Luckly, most of my friends are the same way so we usually all want to eat at the bar.


                            1 Reply
                            1. We live in the boonies, and several years ago went out in May to a local "good restaurant." We did not know in advance that it was Prom Night at the nearest high school.

                              In Indiana, minors are not allowed to enter the bar. The restaurant was full, but the bar was empty. We enjoyed dinner and seeing all the pretty young people in their tuxes and gowns. The bartender wasn't very busy, either...

                              1. Sans Sharty Jr., it's the bar every time.

                                1. We went out for a ladies' lunch at work one day and sat in the bar (quickest seating). When I saw my boss that afternoon, he said that he had taken an interviewee out to lunch at the same restaurant "and what did I see? -- all the women in my department hanging out in the bar!"