A restaurant closes at 10p.m. and you’re rolling in at 9:45 — is this OK? If the doors are open and you’re able to get a table, sure, I guess. But there are a number of things to be mindful of when you’re looking to get a bite so close to closing time.
First off, when does the kitchen close? Many restaurants indicate this time, which is typically earlier than the restaurant’s closing time, on their websites. If you can’t find this information and are hoping to dine late, call and ask — the staff will let you know if they can still accommodate you.
Second, what kind of dining experience are you looking to have? A quick bite? Or a leisurely three-course meal? Arriving 15 minutes before the kitchen closes might get you those three courses, but they might also come out all at once. That’s not so bad if you don’t mind lingering over your dinner, but if you’re hoping for a perfectly paced meal, the more time you allow before the kitchen closes, the better.
Finally, how many people are you with? If you’re dining solo, the staff might be more accommodating of a later walk-in than if you’re a party of six.
All of which is to say, if you’re going to a restaurant with the intention of having a late dinner, a good rule of thumb is to arrive at least 30 minutes before the kitchen closes. Even better would be to make a reservation, so the staff knows you’re coming and can offer the best dining experience possible.