Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

—Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

The now red-hot Randolph restaurant corridor has a restaurant history that can be traced back to at least 1991 when Vivo's, a charming Italian restaurant, opened in what was then a down-on-its-luck neighborhood. By the end of the decade, more than a dozen restaurants in the neighborhood were getting rave reviews and many others were certainly worth a visit. Fast forward through a decade of fading importance and Randolph saw a resurgence around 2008 when Publican, and the following year, Girl & the Goat opened. A flood of outstanding restaurants followed: Next, Vera, and Maude's Liquor Bar opened in 2011; Au Chevel, Nellcote and GEB in 2012, to name just a few.

The downside of this success though is getting a reservation. If you are headed to the West Loop, dishable's suggestion is to plan ahead!

After watching Chicago restaurant availability trends for the last few months we suspect that co–location of these restaurants has stimulated bookings for all restaurants in the area.

The chart below shows table availability by hour if you called on Thursday (for a Friday reservation) or Friday (for a Saturday reservation) at Maude's Liquor Bar. For reservations after 6pm there is very little chance you could get a table if you called the day before. If you called a week in advance, chances improve, but even then it is tenuous. Your chances are better for reservations before 6pm, particularly on Fridays.

The Publican (shown below) appears to be even more challenging as tables become scarce by 5:30pm. You may need to plan well over a week in advance to be assured of getting a reservation here.

Another option is to try services from new start-ups that are targeting products to assist diners with the "How can I get in?" problem e.g., TableHost or TableSavvy.

Our suggestion: If you simply can't, or don't like to, plan that far in advance, try restaurants in other neighborhoods. Nightwood in Pilsen, Acadia in the South Loop, and Browntrout in Lincoln Square are equally acclaimed, but not as heavily booked as those in the Randolph corridor. If these destinations are outside your driving comfort zone, call up the cool new Uber app and get someone else to do the driving.