HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Picking the Right Seat at a Restaurant? Do you strategize to get the perfect spot (for you)?

This infographic about how to choose the perfect seat at different table set-ups (round, oblong, etc) was fun to read. http://blog.alexcornell.com/musical-c...

Some excerpts:

"4 Person Circle: This is the ideal setup. You are safe sitting in any seat. Regardless how interesting everyone is, you pretty much can’t go wrong. Note: as the diameter of the table increases, so too does the importance that you sit adjacent to someone you like.


6 Person Circle: How loud the restaurant is determines how important it is that you claim a middle seat. A quiet space allows for cross-table diagnoal talking, and generally one conversation. A loud space however forces multiple conversations and less diagonal.

8 Person Rectangle: To get one of the interior 4 seats, you need to time your approach expertly. You can’t be first, else you’ll be expected to file to the end. And you can’t be last, else you’ll be stuck with the least interesting seat at the table. Timing is everything.

7 Person Rectangle: It’s very easy to get screwed in this scenario. …..

2 Tables of Any Size: You’re f…d. Regardless of how you time your approach, you will inevitably choose too soon. Lament as the other table’s attendance crystallizes into what is clearly the superior group. Sometimes it’s best to visit the bathroom while seats are chosen, so any seating disasters are the result of chance, and not your own miscalculation."

Do you strategize for optimum seating in that critical first 45 seconds?

How much does it matter to you?

Is it most important in family, friends or business settings -- to you? ("I don't like my cousin Vinny," or "I cannot bear my best friend's husband," or I"'m going to get close to the boss no matter if it seems…like I'm a suck up, like I'm too aggressive, like I'm not a team player….."?

Is the author correct in outlining the scenarios?

Have you ever gotten "stuck" in a horrible seat at a restaurant table? What happened? How did you deal with the situation? (looking for humor and/or horror stories!).

What are the norms in your circles for "where it is appropriate to sit"?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Whenever in company.....I let everyone sit first and I take the last seat available....it's that simple.

    1. At a table with a large group not of my choosing, I assiduously jockey to be among the fun folks. Nothing worse than getting stuck at the quiet end, watching old people eat, and slamming down martinis to endure the boredom. Huge difference, all determined in those critical first 45 seconds.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Well said... I'm generally more concerned about who I sit with, rather than the physical location of my seat.

        1. re: iluvcookies

          the article is about who you'll be sitting with or be able to talk with.

      2. Optimum seating for me is the chair where I can best hear the interesting folk. Large round tables are not good as I struggle to hear folk on the opposite side. A similar hearing problem exists on long tables, if I am not central. I'm happy to give my undivided attention to people in my immediate surroundings - and to smile and nod, knowingly, to others who I cannot properly hear and who may be announcing they are the next Imam of the local mosque, or just that the cat has fleas.

        By the by, I am very much enthused by the prospects of the 7 person rectangle as described in the OP.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Harters

          a hahahaa -- good one, harters!

        2. Being a southpaw, i try to get a seat at the left end of one side or the other. On a round table it doesn't matter so much. I'm comfortable participating in the conversation or just listening in, so being in the center of things isn't usually all that important to me.

          As for norms, the person of Honor - if there is one - gets the head or the best view, whatever that might be. If it's a banquette the ones we know will need to excuse themselves at some point get the outside seats. With my group couples more often sit together rather than opposite each other.

          Funny though, when I read the title, i thought you were trying to get a particular table in a restaurant, not a particular seat at a table.

          1. I'm a lefty when eating. ~ I never sit with my back to the door. ~ I never sit with my back to the majority of the dining room. ~ That's my strategy. ~~ Exceptions can be made if there is a drop dead 'gawgeous" lady I want to be seated next to/with. ;)

            1. I tend to sit towards the end of the table. If not I like to sit on the outside. I hate being stuck in the middle with having to get people to move when I want to get out if I am in a booth.

              1 Reply
              1. re: vttp926

                yes, mid-booth is like the middle seat on an airplane.

              2. I prefer booth, back to wall.
                Otherwise I generally done in small groups with people I enjoy.
                Exception: once a year we take my mother's cousin out for prime rib. Inevitably he brings his girl friend who my grandmother calls a simpleton. The woman is rude, childish, simple among other things. Her collastomy bag story is the stuff of legends. The tantrum she threw about a clown doll from the grab bag for children is epic. While she generally has a good story or two about her cat, Bear, the rest of what comes out of her mouth can border on the offensive. Once she wet her pants. Anyway, there is always plenty of table jockeying trying to sit far away from her.

                1 Reply
                1. re: melpy

                  Ah, a "gunfighter's seating."

                  If I am meeting others, I will seat myself so that I can look out upon folk entering the restaurant.

                  I also like to be facing the general direction, that servers will be coming to the table. Often, that places me in a banquet seat (wife does not do booths that well, with her hips), but that works well for me. Then, the sommelier, or server, can make eye-contact with me, and I am not "blind-sided" by their arrival.

                  I will pass on a "view," just to be able to see the servers, unless we are expecting other diners to join us.


                2. Sometimes yes, but often no.

                  There are maybe a dozen restaurants, that know where my wife and I want to dine. Some of those choices are based on the square footage of certain tables, to accommodate our usual myriad wine glasses. Even when I am dining solo (about 1/3 of the time), they still seat me at one of those particular tables, though I will seldom have THAT many wine glasses.

                  For us, it is not about being close to the kitchen, or far from the kitchen. It is never about being seen, or being hidden. The only concern for us, is square footage for those wine glasses.

                  If we are new to a restaurant, and especially if they offer a "sommelier's pairing," I will request a larger table, than a normal two-top. Quickly, a good restaurant understands, and places a notation in our dossier, for the next visit.

                  I have a few, where we would never be seated at less than a large four-top, and others, that seat us at what would be a regular eight-top.