Use OpenTable to eat, and be rewarded for it!
Among the countless activities we humans indulge in, is there anything as pleasurable as eating? Given the number of restaurants popping up, I doubt it. People love trying out new places to eat, but getting a table in the hottest resto in town may sometimes be difficult.
That’s where OpenTable comes in. OpenTable is a website and app that lets you book or reserve a table in advance. And the best part is you earn points every time you use the app. Earn rewards doing something you love, and would do anyway? Sign me up! Wait, I already signed up. Okay, what follows is my review of OpenTable. Read on!
This is OpenTable
Think of OpenTable as a loyalty program… without actually having to stay loyal to a single restaurant! It works like other restaurant booking apps like BigDish and
What makes OpenTable special is its network of over forty thousand establishments around the world. If you love traveling, OpenTable can work as your concierge and guide to discovering new eats. The app lets you discover places through location, type of cuisine, or diner ratings.
Once you find an establishment you’d like to try, you can book a table using the table. All you need to do is show up (on time) and have the staff lead you to your waiting table.
Since no two diners are ever alike, the app learns about your preferences, and based on your usage, can make suggestions personalized to your unique taste.
The world is your table
As mentioned above, OpenTable features over forty thousand restaurants around the globe. These include establishments in the following cities: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, La Vegas, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Mexico City, Melbourne, and Dublin.
More restaurants in more cities are continuously being added. Click here to check see the updated list:
How to begin your gastronomic journey
First, you need an OpenTable account. To do that, follow these steps:
1. Visit the OpenTable website or download the free app:
2. Sign up by providing your contact details, including name and email address. You can also sign in using your Facebook or Google account. Note that you’ll have to sign up to earn points and redeem rewards.
The site or app will also ask you if you’re a professional that makes reservations for other people (such as personal assistants, concierges, tour guides, or food bloggers).
3. OpenTable will ask you for your location. Make sure your location settings allow OpenTable to find your location. This is to help it find restaurants near you. You can save different locations based on where you would commonly look for restaurants.
4. Star searching, get eating! You’ll find a list of restaurants near you, or you can search for places based on menu, cuisine, or ratings. More on that below.
Booking your first table
You can access your account and make reservations using either the website or the mobile app - whichever is most convenient for you at that given moment.
When you find a restaurant you like, select it, then pick a reservation time. You may have to provide additional details to the restaurant like your phone number, but after, that you’re good to go!
With over forty thousand partner restaurants, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. That’s why OpenTable has a curated list of restaurants. These lists include themes such as brunch, romantic dates, group dining, casual dining, family dining, and others. The categories change depending on the time and season, so check back frequently.
Top-ranked restaurants will appear immediately, as well as those that paid for promotion.
You don’t have to stick to these top restaurants, of course. In fact, I’ve discovered a lot of hidden gems by exploring the app and the comments.
As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of ways to filter choices. You can do so based on location, cuisine, dining style, and even price. The last one is particularly important to me because I am a foodie on a budget. Sometimes.
Website or app?
All main features are available on both desktop (website) and app versions of OpenTable. So it all depends on your preference at the time you make a reservation. If you make a reservation on desktop, you can access it on the app, and vice-versa.
I prefer reserving using the app, simply because my phone is always with me. Once I’m headed to the restaurant, I keep the app open in case I need to show it to the restaurant manager.
Paying for your meals
Here’s another feature I love. You can pay for your meals using OpenTable! You can link your credit card or Google Wallet to your OpenTable account, much like you do with your Uber account.
You can also send gift cards to friends in other cities, which they can in turn use to discover more awesome eats.
Real-world booking example
Here’s a little use case. I was in the Chicago recently on business. Now, I’m a fan of New York-style pizza, but I’ve always wanted to try out Chicago deep dish. I entered “deep dish pizza” in the search bar and got a lot of options.
I prefer mom-and-pop establishments so I selected “authentic”, “family style”, “historic”, and “good value” among the list of options. Among the results, I found Palermo's 95th Fine Italian Cuisine, which is the best-rated restaurant among them. I checked out the user reviews and found phrases like “portions are generous”, “as a long-time resident of the area I've dined there many times“ and “the pizza is so good.” I also read complaints about the serving time, but I felt it was worth risking for good food.
I read that weekends can get packed, so I reserved early using the app a week prior. I showed up on the day I reserved and the place was indeed full, but I was shown to my table almost immediately.
Simply. Easy. And yes, the pizza was terrific… but sorry, NY pizza is still the best!
The rewards program
The online reservation feature was already awesome, but OpenTable has a pretty enticing rewards program, too. Every time I make a reservation in an eligible restaurant, I earn points that I can redeem for discounts or gift cards.
OpenTable has 2,000-point, 5,000-point, and 10,000-point levels. You get incrementally higher rewards as you move up.
At the lowest level, you can redeem a dining reward worth $20 or an Amazon gift card worth $10.
At the middle level, you can redeem a dining reward worth $50 or an Amazon gift card worth $25.
At the highest level, you can redeem a dining reward worth $100 or an Amazon gift card worth $50.
Reminder: points have a validity of only twelve months, so be sure to use them soon, and often. Rewards cards likewise have a twelve-month validity.
Get more out of your rewards
OpenTable has various ways of incentivizing you to check out certain restaurants (usually the ones nearest to you). These include offering bonus points. You’ll find certain restaurants, and even specific time slots labeled accordingly. So look out for those!
Know the code
Promo codes are a great way to get discounts. These codes tend to change often, but it won’t hurt to try the following:
OpenTable for business owners
OpenTable doesn’t just benefit restaurant-goers; it also benefits restaurant owners. Simply put, the app provides restaurants easy access to reliable reservation program. They will also be able to use a full suite of tools to manage and monitor the influx of customers. They could even use the app as a sort of social media platform to get a feel for what the market wants.
The Verdict: Legit or Scam?
Legit! I love OpenTable. The app works, and it works great. It managed to make my hunt for new, awesome eats much easier. Plus it has a robust rewards program that makes it all the more awesome.
And it seems like other institutions find OpenTable legit- the New York Time and Mashable have featured the app in the past.
New updates have changed the user experience a bit, and I’ve read some negative comments about it, but in the end, it still doesn’t mean the app is bad. On the contrary, it’s awesome.
But it still won’t convince me that Chicago pizza is better!
This is my review based on my own dining experiences. Now it’s your turn to share. Have you discovered any cool places using OpenTable? Did you use the app to snag a coveted table in a hot restaurant?
Let’s hear your stories!