You dial hopefully, faithfully, at the first of the month, just as you're told. "I'd like to make a dinner reservation for next month," you say, breathlessly, without pausing, just to save time because time is nothing if not fleeting when you're making dinner reservations at Lucia — the only five-star Italian restaurant in the city, and doubtlessly one of the finest dining experiences money can buy around these parts. If only you could get a damned table — because they're not on OpenTable, and they certainly don't take reservations by email. No, to get a coveted table at this tiny Italian gem in the Bishop Arts District, you've got to do things the old-fashioned way: by phone, and you're competing with hordes of other high-falutin' Dallas diners to do so.
So you set a reminder on your phone and in Microsoft Outlook. You charged your battery. You practiced in the mirror in order to be succinct. And yet, despite your best effort, you're met, like a bird meets a windshield, by grim reality — the cold reality of abject disappointment. "Oh, I'm sorry," you're told, blithely, "But we just booked up for next month. Would you like to be on the waiting list?"
Distraught, you find yourself stalking the Lucia Facebook page on your iPhone like a lovestruck millennial, yearning for a real-time update on a last-minute open table. Yes, those elusive cancellations randomly pop up every now and again, but it's more or less impossible to predict when. Thankfully, by keeping a few simple rules in mind, you too can saunter into Lucia like a boss and get a table without even making a reservation.
FORGET ABOUT THE WEEKEND
Be realistic. Set expectations. We all want to be the type of smooth-talkin', move-makin' charm factory with an endless natural tan and a beautiful head of thick luscious hair and perfectly pearly whites and effortless charisma that gets to hold court at the finest tables in the Metroplex whenever and wherever he or she reckons. I get that. But most of us mere mortals have to make sacrifices to achieve our goals. And your goal is a table at Lucia. So choose a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Book that babysitter in advance. And proceed to step two.
As you prepare to enter Lucia's hallowed doors, remember the three C's: compliments, congeniality, and courtesy. Flatter the hostess. Gawk at the menu. Gush about how long you've obsessed over this moment. And then: be amenable to whatever's thrown your way.
There's nothing available inside, but you can sit at the little table on the patio? Duh. Yes. No hesitation. Oh, but it's July in Texas, you say? Shut up. Sweat through it. Be grateful you've been given an opportunity to dine. Lucia isn't for the weak.
Seats at the bar opening up in a half-hour, give or take? No problem. Sounds great. Go guzzle a few Rahrs at Hunky's in the interim; go grab an espresso from Espumoso; go steal a few stogie puffs at Cigar Art. Just keep it together, all right, man?
Nothing available right now, but check back in about an hour? Of course! Sounds wonderful! Take it in stride. Go for a stroll. Take in your surroundings. Did you know: the whole reason Bishop Arts even has shops is because of Lucia! All those people smelling candles and ogling art? They're just in the queue. Join them.
SHOW UP EARLY (OR LATE)
You've doubtlessly read about this here and elsewhere, but it bears repeating: Lucia doesn't take reservations for the four seats at the bar. They're first come, first sit, and they offer a hell of a view of all that's going on behind the scenes. To snap those babies up, your best bet is to get there right when the proverbial dinner bell rings: at 5:30. Stake the joint out if you have to. Loiter. Camp out.
All bets are off. It's Lucia, man.
But what if, you know, you're employed? 9 to 5. You don't have time for this arriving-right-when-the-doors-open stuff. Then, low-key, here's what you do: show up late. After 8. Between 8 and 9. By 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, in Bishop Arts, it's mostly crickets and tumbleweeds. While it may be ground zero for gastronomes, the nightlife winds down early. This is your sweet spot.
Furthermore, if you go late, you get to reap the benefits of everyone else's misfortune: too drunk, too sick, workin' late, flat tire, yada yada yada. Maybe they're just deadbeats. Whatever the case, they missed their reservations. And now, because you sauntered in at 8:30 on a Wednesday, you get to survey the relatively barren Lucia landscape and reap the rewards. You, finally, get your very own table at Lucia. And without any more phone rejection or Facebooking!
Sit down. Take it all in. Prepare to feast, and don't forget to gloat via Instagram.
Want to try your hand at making a reservation the old-fashioned way? Lucia begins taking reservations for the following month on the first of each month at 9 a.m.; call them at (214) 948-4998.