Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid's most popular dining and drinking destinations. Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid's most popular dining and drinking destinations. Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid's most popular dining and drinking destinations. (Photo: Tupungato / Shutterstock)

What is the best time to eat at your favorite restaurant?

Avoid long waits: New Google feature allows you to identify the most popular times people visit restaurants and other businesses.

Doesn't everyone hate waiting in line? Wouldn't you rather be doing – well, let's see – anything else?

In typical Google fashion, the search behemoth has zeroed in on this age-old complaint, adding a function to its business listings that tells you, in convenient bar graph format, the most popular times people visit a particular restaurant, coffee shop, bar or other establishment on any day of the week. So now, before you go out to eat, you can plug in the restaurant of your choice, and right under the phone number of the business, you will see "Popular Times." If a restaurant has a particularly irresistible drink special on Friday nights, it might show higher activity during that time.

A screenshot from a Google search of the Palomar restaurant in London.(Photo: Google)

For instance, if you've heard the recent raves about The Palomar, an Israeli restaurant in the U.K. that's earned a top 10 London restaurant ranking from Time Out and a coveted mention from Michelin, you might be tempted to pay them a visit. So here's how to take advantage of this handy new feature: Google "Palomar London" on your phone, and when the listing comes up, press the blue button with the arrow in it that says "More about The Palomar." Scroll down to "Popular Times," and a list of days of the week will pop up. Try clicking on Monday, and you'll see a few pretty high bars during the lunch and dinner rush, which is typical for virtually every restaurant. But then, click on Wednesday, and look at the lunch hour. Pretty calm, right? So you'll be much more likely to score a table with minimal waiting on a Wednesday afternoon than on a Monday afternoon.

Across the pond, you'll see quite a different pattern at downtown Atlanta's Aviva by Kameel, an uber-popular Mediterranean spot that was just ranked No. 13 in the country by Yelp. This casual eatery is known for its fresh ingredients, warm and inviting atmosphere, and world-famous falafel. But there's another aspect of Aviva that some people would rather avoid – long lines. By flipping through the days of the week in the Popular Times feature, you'll see that Aviva's busiest times are Wednesday and Friday lunches. So what does that mean for you? How about a relaxing late-afternoon lunch or a stress-free early brunch on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday?

Aviva by Kameel's busiest time is Friday afternoon between noon and 2.(Photo: Google)

Go on, give it a try. Alon Shaya's eponymous New Orleans restaurant shows a rather steady stream of guests from opening to closing time on Wednesdays, making a trip there somewhat predictable on that day. But on Tuesday, the place really gets hoppin' between about 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., so you might want to factor that into your plans for your next NOLA night out. A few thousand miles north at the buzzy Soho eatery Jack's Wife Freda, you'll want to take note of the Monday lunch spike, which contrasts with the flatter Tuesday readings.

It's worth noting that this function is not across the board. There are some restaurants that don't yet have the crowdsourcing capability to report its busiest times. But the search giant, in a recent Google Plus post, said the feature is available for "millions of places and businesses around the world," enabling users to "enjoy that extra time" they wouldn't have to spend waiting in line.

So what would you do with that extra time? Throw a mezze party to whet your guests' appetites before checking out the local nightlife? Get your nostalgia fix by watching an episode or two of "Reading Rainbow" on Netflix? Watch this amazing clip of mentalist Oz Pearlman shocking the judges on "America's Got Talent"?

The possibilities, as they say, are endless. So start Googling!

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