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How do I get a table??? And also your all killing me:) AND you are all so generous

Hi. Coming to NY for the first time early May for 18 nights. Am very keen to dine in a wide range of places including Eleven Madison (for the 20th wedding anniversary). Question - for places like that how does one (please share your secrets with me) get a table? Using open table looks to be impossible - even once one is in the 28 day period. Now I'm not in 28 days yet - but looking 28 days out (to the hour) just to see and it looks hopeless.

Also, reading this forum (and also a fantastic foodie book by some Aussie chefs who visit NY to eat) means that the choices are killing me. It all sounds soooooo good. I loved San Francisco for food but it looks like 18 days (and nights) in NY is going to blow my palate and my bank balance away. My wife and I are trying to drop 5+ kgs each so we can put in back on when we visit. Believe it (or not) I'm thinking about doing a spreadsheet (or mind map) to ensure the right places, mix of places and yet also allow for some spontaneity - though I hear that no bookings can lead to starvation.

Finally for now, thank you all for the time and input you out into this site - so many people are so generous with their ideas etc. couldn't believe how someone replied to me and it must have taken over half an hour to write their reply. You also get me slobbering (like my dogs) which is not such an attractive thing.

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  1. Reservations: Many people swear by using open table for EMP, I don't. My plan, which has worked every time I needed a reservation, was to simply call them on the telephone the very second the reservation line opened for the day I wanted to dine. If it is some kind of super busy day (a prime Saturday night or a holiday), I will usually have a friend do the same until one of us scores a reservation.

    Palate preservation: I am in the camp that doesn't suffer from palate fatigue, but my advice to you is to try a wide variety of the city's offerings. Get an awesome bagel, some great Thai food, the duck lunch at Ssam Bar, a top-notch pastrami, etc. As long as you vary the types of food and the flavor profiles that they rely on, you should be fine.

    Cash: Some of the best food in this city is cheap, don't forget to hit up Absolute Bagels or Katz's or Xian Famous, etc. to balance out your meals at EMP, etc.

    Staying Skinny: This is NYC, walk.

    Enjoy your trip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nmprisons

      re: palate fatigue:

      serious eats did a piece about food crawls earlier this week. the premise was basically: limit yourself to a few bites of each thing, and stick to that.

      but then again.... thats not what i did when i was there last weekend and it worked out fine for me. lol

    2. don't by shy about spreadsheets. I put one together for every trip I take... they are great!

      EMP opens their reservation line at 9am everyday for the following 28 days out. You need to call at 9am on exactly the 28th day before the date you want to reserve. Cross your fingers and be flexible on time if your date is inflexible.

      Happy 20th!

      1 Reply
      1. re: chloes

        Lucky I read about EMP reservation,,I called several times and it was busy ..I kept trying and then someone answered and I was put on hold and then I got my Friday night birthday reservation!!
        Thanks to all the info on this board!

      2. Call the restaurants without using open table. Don't call during dinner hours. Tell them it is a special occasion and how badly you want to try their restaurant. I think you will get all of your reservations. I have never had a problem getting into any restaurant.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          no, no, no. for a reservation at Per Se or EMP you really have to call when the reservation line opens. if you wait until that evening it will likely be too late. don't wait until they are fully booked and then try and beg your way in.

        2. Just keep trying! EMP opens its books at 9am each data and you're here for 2.5 weeks, yes? Just keep trying every day until you get in. Make sure you're on OpenTable at 9am NYC time on the dot.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            I tried to make a reservation for a party of 3, using opentable at 9 am sharp. After 4 or 5 times trying and not being succesful, I tried to book for a party of 2 or 4 and there were a few times offered, and assumed tables for 3 people were already gone for that day. So I think you can manage getting the reservation should you try at 9 am. Around 11 am I called EMP to ask if they offer tables for 3 at opentable, so I would try it the following day and surprisingly the person I talked to said she could book a table for 3 at 9 pm! So in 2 weeks we will be there and I will report back.

            1. re: Ffromsaopaulo

              When I called, they told me OpenTable was better because the phone lines get jammed at 9am. We were only trying to get a table for 2 though.

              Perhaps OP needs to try both methods: OpenTable (both at 9am and looking for random cancellations) as well as calling.

          2. I have to echo the posters that say call directly and forget Open Table esp. in a situation like this. and don't hesitate to mention the anniversary/trip, you might get someone who is charmed and tries to fit you in in some way. NYer's are known for being gruff, but beneath that exterior they're really a bunch of sweethearts.