New York City’s Most Exclusive Dining Spots: The Reservations Worth Chasing

It can be a challenge to secure reservations at popular restaurants in New York City. So, if you’re feeling frustrated, it might be helpful to know that it’s not just you: restaurants are becoming increasingly difficult to secure a spot at, with certain reservations in New York City being nearly unattainable.

For the sake of amusement, I have chosen to explore the most difficult reservations to secure in New York City. However, I will provide a glimmer of hope to encourage trying. Additionally, in the interest of fairness, I have excluded exclusive restaurants and clubs. Let’s dive right in!


Rao’s, established in 1896, is a compact Italian eatery that has served the elite of New York City for more than a hundred years. Esteemed individuals such as John Gotti, Eli Manning, and Mariah Carey have frequented this restaurant in Harlem.

Due to the consistent high demand, securing a reservation at Rao’s in New York City has become a challenging feat. The tables are highly sought-after, with the restaurant’s long-time owner, Frank Pellegrino, earning the moniker of “Frankie No.”

According to an interview conducted before his death, Pellegrino mentioned that all tables at Rao’s have been reserved for the past 38 years. The question then becomes, how can one secure a reservation at the highly coveted New York City restaurant? The answer may lie in befriending a celebrity and hoping for a favor.

Location: The address for this location is 455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029.


I believe that Misi is a highly successful restaurant, and I take personal pride in its achievements. Whenever I bring a friend to dine here, they in turn recommend it to their own acquaintances. The restaurant’s popularity seems to be spreading in a chain-like manner.

Is it solely my responsibility for contributing to the notoriety of Misi as one of the most difficult reservations to secure in New York City? Most likely not, but I played a role in it. Though it may bring mixed emotions, it cannot be denied that the pasta dishes are undeniably worth the buzz.

Location: 329 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 | Book a Table

Misi - One of the Most Difficult Reservations to Secure in New York CityMisi in New York City: A Reservation That’s Tough to Get

The Four Horsemen

For a perfect date night in New York City, I would choose The Four Horsemen as my top restaurant, if only it wasn’t such a challenge to make a reservation. This wine bar in Brooklyn offers everything you could want, and it even holds a coveted Michelin Star.

According to, this restaurant in NYC is known for being one of the most budget-friendly Michelin establishments. Their entrees are all priced below $35, although it’s important to exercise restraint when it comes to their wine selection. However, the biggest challenge lies in reserving a table, as Resy’s booking system opens at 7AM, 30 days prior to the desired date.

Location: 295 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 | Bookings


In the heart of Greenwich Village, Carbone pays homage to the Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century, an era known for its glamour and culinary excellence. The atmosphere here is electric, the service impeccable, and the food—a perfect balance of traditional and innovative Italian cuisine—is nothing short of extraordinary. The Spicy Rigatoni Vodka has achieved almost mythic status among foodies, a must-try for anyone fortunate enough to dine here.

How to Secure a Reservation: Carbone’s reservations are released 30 days in advance and are notoriously difficult to snag. Persistence and flexibility in your dining schedule are key. A tip for the determined: keep an eye on reservation platforms like Resy for last-minute cancellations​

Location: 181 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012 | Book a Table

4 Charles Prime Rib

Tucked away in the West Village, 4 Charles Prime Rib offers an intimate dining experience reminiscent of a bygone era. This establishment is renowned for its luxurious cuts of prime rib, an extensive selection of fine wines, and a sumptuous interior that feels both cozy and exclusive. It’s a favorite haunt for celebrities and discerning diners alike, adding to the allure and challenge of securing a reservation.

Local Secret: While reservations might be hard to come by, 4 Charles Prime Rib is also known for one of the city’s best burgers, available to those who make it through the doors. Alternatively, their sister restaurant, Au Cheval, serves a similar burger with a shorter wait

Address: 4 Charles St #3004, New York, NY 10014 | Reservations

The Polo Bar

The Polo Bar, Ralph Lauren’s foray into the New York City dining scene, exudes a timeless elegance that complements its refined American cuisine. With its equestrian-themed decor and an ambiance that whispers old money, dining here is as much about the experience as it is about the meal. The Polo Bar demands adherence to a smart dress code, further enhancing its exclusive atmosphere.

The Polo Bar, One of the Most Difficult Reservations to Secure in New York CityThe Polo Bar, known for its elusive reservations, is a highly sought-after dining experience in New York City.

How to Secure a Reservation: Unlike many contemporary establishments, The Polo Bar still prioritizes phone reservations, which can be made one month in advance. Those willing to dial repeatedly may just secure a coveted table. If you happen to be among the fortunate diners, please remember to adhere to the dress code. Wearing athletic attire, beach attire, T-shirts, hoodies, ripped jeans, or hats is not permitted. While jackets are not mandatory, they are encouraged for men.

Location: 1 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022 | Bookings (although please note that many can also be made through phone reservations)

Don Angie Restaurant

Don Angie stands out not just for its food, but for its story—a tale of innovation and resilience. The restaurant, known for its unique take on Italian classics, has carved a niche for itself among the culinary giants of the city. With dishes that reimagine traditional flavors in bold, new ways, it’s no wonder that securing a table at Don Angie has been likened to finding a needle in a haystack.

The Michelin star, often seen as the apex of culinary achievement, was once part of Don Angie’s accolades. However, in 2023, the restaurant experienced the bittersweet loss of this prestigious recognition. While the Michelin star’s absence might be seen as a setback, it has paradoxically made Don Angie more accessible to a wider audience, slightly easing the fierce competition for reservations.

Despite this, getting a table at Don Angie remains a challenge, a reflection of its undiminished popularity and the high regard in which it’s held by both critics and diners alike. Those eager to experience its offerings are advised to plan well in advance and to stay vigilant for reservation openings.

Tips for Booking:

  • Persistence Pays: Keep a close eye on reservation platforms, as cancellations can happen at any time.
  • Flexibility: Being open to dining at less conventional times may increase your chances of securing a spot.

Location : 103 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10014 | Bookings

I Sodi

In the bustling heart of New York City’s West Village, I Sodi stands as a beacon of Italian culinary tradition, offering an intimate dining experience that resonates with the warmth and authenticity of a Tuscan home. This restaurant, led by the visionary Rita Sodi, is a tribute to the simplicity and richness of Italian cuisine, encapsulated within a cozy, yet elegant, setting. With just eight tables, the exclusivity of I Sodi is as much a part of its charm as its delectable menu.

Securing a table at I Sodi is a testament to one’s dedication to experiencing the pinnacle of Italian dining in New York City. With reservations available only two weeks in advance and the fierce competition for a spot, planning ahead is crucial. The limited seating amplifies the demand, making a reservation at I Sodi one of the more challenging feats for food enthusiasts.

Location: 314 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014 | Book a Table


Embarking on a culinary journey to Atomix by Chef Junghyun Park is akin to stepping into a world where each dish tells a story, a narrative woven from the finest ingredients and the artistry of Korean cuisine. This New York City gem, tucked away with an unassuming facade, unfolds into a dining experience that is both intimate and groundbreaking, having earned two Michelin Stars and accolades that position it among the world’s best restaurants.

Atomix’s reputation for excellence means that securing a reservation is a feat that requires planning and a bit of luck. With its limited seating and high demand, tables at Atomix are among the most sought-after in the city. The partnership with American Express Global Dining Access and availability on Tock adds a layer of accessibility for some, but the competition remains fierce.

Location: 104 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016 | Bookings


Who wouldn’t want to experience the delightful South Indian cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere? Look no further! Semma has been awarded the prestigious Michelin Star for Indian cuisine in the U.S and as a result, securing a reservation at this popular New York City restaurant has become nearly impossible.

Here’s a tip for you – make sure to try the Gunpowder Dosa. This rice and lentil crepe is so delicious that it will leave you speechless and make any stress from the reservation process completely worthwhile. You can make reservations up to two weeks in advance.

Here’s the scoop on getting in: snagging a table at Semma is like trying to get tickets to the hottest show in town. Reservations? Yeah, you’ll need to be on your A-game, setting alarms and maybe even doing a little rain dance for good luck. They open up the booking two weeks out, so mark your calendar, set those reminders, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be one of the lucky few to get in.

Location: 60 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011 | Booking

Chef Kwame’s Tatiana

Let’s dive into the world of Tatiana by Chef Kwame, a spot that’s mixing it up big time in the NYC dining scene. Imagine a place where the vibes are as vibrant as the flavors, where African, Caribbean, Southern, and New York cuisines come together in a delicious culinary mashup. Chef Kwame Onwuachi is the maestro behind this fusion, serving up dishes that’ll have you questioning everything you thought you knew about flavor combos.

This isn’t just food; it’s storytelling on a plate. Take the Truffle Chopped Cheese, for instance. It’s a classic New York street food turned gourmet. Every bite is a mix of nostalgia and innovation, a testament to Chef Kwame’s skill in blending the familiar with the extraordinary. The menu here is all about pushing boundaries and exploring new tastes, making each visit a new adventure.

Location: 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023 | Booking

Thai Diner

Securing a table at Thai Diner in New York City is not a simple task, but it is not impossible either. The restaurant primarily operates on a first-come, first-served basis and bookings can only be made up to a week in advance.

It is highly recommended to make a reservation beforehand, as there have been instances where walking into the restaurant without one resulted in a four-hour wait for a table. However, whether you have a reservation or not, do not miss out on trying the Thai iced tea before leaving.

Location: 186 Mott St, New York, NY 10012 | Book Now

Via Carota

Via Carota, a well-known Italian restaurant, gained a lot of attention upon its opening due to its ownership by two highly acclaimed restaurateurs in NYC. Despite my persistent efforts over the past two years, I have been unsuccessful in securing a reservation.

Securing reservations for Via Carota won’t become any simpler in the future. According to Pete Wells, the restaurant critic for the New York Times, Via Carota was ranked as the fourth top restaurant in New York City in 2023. Therefore, the high demand for the restaurant will continue.

Reservations that are difficult to obtain can be booked 30 days in advance through Resy at 10AM every day.

Location: 51 Grove St, New York, NY 10014 | Book a Table


Surprise twist: yet another Italian eatery lands on the list. I assure you, I am not showing favoritism, it’s simply that New Yorkers have an insatiable appetite for the enchanting pastas, wines, and wood-fired seafood served at Lilia.

The fact that the restaurant is located in a previous auto body shop is insignificant. The reservations for this highly sought-after restaurant are released at 10AM, 28 days prior, so it is recommended to set a reminder in order to secure a table at one of the most in-demand eateries in New York City.

Location: 567 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211 | Book Now


For many years, Roscioli has been renowned as one of Rome’s top dining establishments. So, when news broke that the Italian restaurant was expanding to New York City, it caused quite a frenzy of excitement.

Every day, at 10AM, reservations for the New York City location become available. For their tasting menu, reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance, while reservations for the a la carte menu can be made up to 14 days in advance. The restaurant also offers various wine tastings that are more accessible to book, where guests can enjoy three courses of wine and three accompanying small bites.

Location: 43 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012 | Bookings

Strategies for Securing Difficult Reservations in New York City

  • Schedule reminders: One of the most effective suggestions for booking difficult reservations in New York City is to schedule reminders. Many restaurants release a fresh batch of reservations at designated times. By repeatedly refreshing the website (including Resy and OpenTable) during these reservation releases, your likelihood of successfully reserving one significantly increases.
  • Verify your credit card for concierge assistance: If you possess a high-end American Express credit card, you may be entitled to a perk known as Global Access Dining.
  • To obtain a difficult reservation in New York City, you can contact the number provided on the back of your card and request assistance from American Express (the parent company of Resy). They will then reach out to the restaurant on your behalf to secure a table for you.
  • Grow your party: While one may assume that a larger group would be more difficult to accommodate, many restaurants reserve a majority of their tables for couples. In New York City, you may have a better chance of securing reservations at popular restaurants by searching for a table for four instead of just a table for two.
  • Do Not Use Appointtrader: Appointtrader is a recently launched platform/application that enables individuals to purchase and sell difficult-to-obtain reservations in New York City. I have been informed of multiple negative experiences that have deterred me from using it. The most common issue is that sellers will sell a reservation and subsequently cancel it, leaving the buyer with no dinner plans.