Secrets of Scoring a Table at Delfina

It may seem like one of SF's most elusive reservations, but this Mission favorite offers a surprising number of ways to get a table
March 3, 2014
by Tamara Palmer

Delfina Restaurant has been bustling ever since it opened in the Mission District in 1998. But it's not nearly as hard to get a table there as you might think - especially once you are armed with all the best secrets from Annie Stoll, who owns the restaurant (plus its siblings, Pizzeria Delfina and Locanda) with her husband, Craig Stoll.


The Delfina website accepts reservations up to 60 days in advance, but you can feel free to call or e-mail the restaurant if you would like a date later than that. Even way later than that. "If you want a date that's two years from now," says Stoll, "it's no problem."

"Here's another great trick for when you're already dining at the restaurant," she reveals. "If you've eaten and are on the way out, try and make a reservation for another time, and we'll do our best to make that work. Even if we are booked for the date you want, sometimes we will overbook for people that are already dining in the restaurant."


Delfina leaves the counter and the bar free for walk-ins. If the wait you're encountering is too long, Stoll says the restaurant is happy to contact Locanda down the street to see if there is a free table or a shorter wait there. Whatever time you want to drop in, though, Stoll notes, "Walking in for two works better than four. We can always accommodate a party of two; even on a Saturday night, it's just a matter of time. Walk-ins are really important to our business, so we make every effort to take really good care of them." Stoll adds that the staff tries to keep the wait to an hour or less - even at the busiest times. You're encouraged to hang around in case the wait is shorter. That said, if you want to escape for a drink at the nearby 500 Club, the host can also send you a text message a few minutes before the table is ready.


Once you've successfully landed a table, look forward to current menu items such as mint tagliatelle with artichokes, mascarpone and nepitella; dry-aged Liberty duck with kumquat mostarda and sauerkraut; and pancetta-wrapped rabbit saddle with roasted Tokyo turnips and cipollini agrodolce.

For more insider tips on hard-to-get restaurant seats, see the Secrets to Scoring a Seat at State Bird Provisions, La Nebbia and Rich Table.