Ok, you explain it to me – if the city is still reeling from the aftershocks of the recession with unemployment in the double digits, how come you can’t get a reservation at Frances until sometime early in 2011? On Valencia, on Fillmore, on Union the best  restaurants are jammed tighter than 880 at rush hour.

So what is a senior citizen with culinary curiosity to do? Why not try my early bird special. I’m not talking about restaurants where Boca Raton geezers line up at 5 o’clock to get 25% off their meat loaf. I’m recommending that if you are an adventurous Bay Area omnivore you try the hot, impossible-to-get-into, foodie-besieged eatery of the minute but instead of going there for dinner, you go for lunch.

Delfina’s on California may be as mobbed as a movie premiere in the evenings but Monday, Wednesday and Thursday they start serving at 11 in the morning. Bar Bambino, another of the Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurants, is a killer reservation to nail. But not in the middle of the day. You’re even more likely to find parking than you would after sundown in that neighborhood. The last time I tried to get into Star Belly for dinner the hostess was surprised I wasn’t interested in waiting 45 minutes for a table. You won’t have that problem at lunch there.

The same rule holds true for restaurants all over town. In the middle of the day tables are much more available, the deafening dinner din hasn’t started, prices are cheaper, and service is civilized.Even at restaurants with popular lunches you can get in with no trouble if you wait until after 2 pm. Which, as Geezers beholden only to our own daily schedule, we are generally available to do.

That’s also a good rule for  Downtown and Financial District restaurants, where gainfully employed customers generally return to their cubicles after 2.And if you still have a problem thinking it’s uncool to eat out so early and so often, pretend that you are in Europe where for centuries,  the main meal of the day has always been lunch.

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