Dining Hacks

Secrets to Scoring a Table at State Bird Provisions

By Tamara Palmer  |  February 4, 2014
Credit: State Bird Provisions

State Bird Provisions remains one of the toughest tables to nab in town, but it's not as hard as you might think. With a little bit of patience and flexibility, the restaurant's eponymous juicy, cheese-dusted fried quail can be yours. Here are some ways to make it happen:

Walk-ins

One-third of the dining room is saved for walk-ins each day. Elizabeth DePalmer, State Bird's business manager, shares some insight on when the wait is lightest. "Typically Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are the best evenings for early walk-in availability," she reveals. "Oftentimes we have spots open later in the night on Fridays and Saturdays around 10 PM." Note: that's an hour before closing time.

No matter what night of the week you stop in, the key is to catch that magical moment when the tables turn. We've also achieved a minimal wait on a weekday at 9 PM.

Plan ahead

Sure, eating early or late is fairly standard advice that will tend to hold true at any hotspot. But if you have your heart set on an eight o'clock dinner, stop in at 6 or 7 PM and put your name down on the list. Then spend an hour or two shopping in the Japan Center (we love browsing the books and gifts at Kinokuniya Bookstore) or having a drink at the Social Study or Fat Angel nearby.

"Either way, when you arrive you can either be seated or request a later time, based on availability. We'll always text you when table your table is getting close to ready," says DePalmer. "We try to make it easy and there is a lot to do in the area if you do indeed wait."

Reservations

In all honesty, securing a reservation at the restaurant remains a very difficult feat. Each morning, reservation availability for a date 60 days into the future is posted on the website at an undisclosed time. They disappear quickly. However, any time there is a cancellation, it is also posted online immediately. While this might be frustrating, a key to getting a reservation is to be very flexible about the date and time.

Be a Large Party

There is one far easier way to try for a reservation. Now that the dining room has expanded and has two eight-seat tables, the Bird can finally accept reservations for parties of over four people. If you can wrangle together a party of 6-12 diners, you can enjoy a four-course set menu that is not an option in the rest of the room (but is comprised of dishes that anyone else can order). Email info@statebirdsf.com with your party size and your date/time request. And for more insidery tips on State Bird Provisions, check out all of these tidbits on the music, the pancakes, and the "sex bread."