Parents Date Night - Restaurant Tips

As parents we want a nice quiet date night at the restaurant, child free! And yes, that does mean free from others kids as well. So the number one tip would be to sit away from families! BUT if by chance I can not arrange seating that is away from a rambunctious family of loud, crazy kids...then YES I will show grace and maybe even entertain them with a few funny faces or high fives if the situation calls for it. As a parent I understand kids are not programmable robots and pick the worst times to have the worst behavior and sometimes spiral to a meltdown because of exhaustion!

That being said, here are a few good tips I thought I would share that my wife and I practice:
  • Leave the house early if possible. Between 4 and 5pm. If you have small kids then you are used to eating early anyways. 
    • This allows you to be going the opposite way of work traffic, easy flow.
    • There is usually not a waiting list at the restaurant already.
    • You have the pick of seats before it gets busy.
  • Make things easy on yourself and plan to use valet parking if available. A lot of malls or restaurant/shopping areas now have free valet. Just remember to put a good tip in the valets hand(when picking up the vehicle). Yes, budget it into your "going out'" or entertainment money. Do I do this a lot? No, but if its available and it makes life easier for one glorious night out...yes, do it!
  • No matter what kind of seating you like remember tables next to serving/wait stations, the bathrooms, kitchen service doors, front/lobby door, and at the end of the bar are terrible choices. Most of these tables will have heavy traffic, drafts, smells, cetera.
  • If you do eat later, or if the restaurant is already busy, REMEMBER most tables and booths that are around the bar area, but are separated from the rest of the restaurants tables/booths are almost ALWAYS first come first serve. Those are NOT the "seating" people are on the waiting list for...My wife and I usually walk right in and find a nice booth I like that is empty and slide right into it. Server usually shows up in minutes.
  • As a last or first resort, (depends on your feelings of being seen sitting at a bar by your local church denomination) you can sit at the bar and eat dinner. Its only the two of you and you can sit and talk even closer than you could at a table or booth. Not to mention you can usually get your food faster and you always have someone within ten feet to service your every request.
These are just a few helpful suggestions that come to mind...What tips do you have that you can add to this list?