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Toughest Tickets in Town?


I am looking for the toughest reservations in town... the kind where you have to book 1 month prior to the date you want or you may not get in... So in other words the most buzzed about, well regarded restaurants... This is for a special occasion. Open to any cuisine. Below 50th street if possible. Really looking for the best of the best right now... Would love to hear some names...

Thanks so much in advance hounders!

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  1. Toughest reservation below 50th St. is EMP. Good luck!

    13 Replies
    1. re: ellenost

      Indeed. And just because you're calling that reservation line at 9 a.m., 28 days prior, still doesn't mean you'll get in!

      1. re: ellenost

        I've actually been to EMP... for lunch... and while I liked the interior, concept and service... I did not like any of the food... except the bread and the butter... I know I'm one of few people who didn't... I agree that it's a hard rezzie! I was 1 month ahead of the game and almost didn't get a table.

        1. re: sarasmith

          You didn't specify type of food--only that you wanted to know the hardest place to get into. In fact, you said you were "open to any cuisine."

          Perhaps you'd like to add some places that you like? There seem to be plenty of places hard to get into. I'm going to guess Betony is on that list now.

          1. re: Elisa515

            I really am open to any cuisine... sorry for not being pickier... I know this was a tricky question....

            1. re: sarasmith

              Can you list some of your favorite restaurants?

              1. re: kathryn

                I don't have any favorite restaurants yet... but I will list some that I've been to and that I liked: Lincoln, Ai fiori, Marea, Gramercy tavern, Babbo were all nice... I am also open to something less upscale and more casual/trendy/hip such as the Stanton Social, Catch, Barrio Chino, Alta, Beauty/Essex etc... If I had to list cuisines it would be American, Italian, Asian, Spanish, Mexican... Places like EMP/Del posto/Le Bernadin/Per se would be a bit too much for this occasion.

                1. re: sarasmith

                  How about the chef's tasting at Torrisi Italian Specialties? Momofuku Ko? Annisa?

                    1. re: sarasmith

                      For something hip, casual, and Italian, try Perla.

                      I also loved Carbone though it's not to everyone's taste, i.e. it's basically very expensive red sauce Italian-American food in a swank setting.

                      You might also like The NoMad.

                        1. re: sarasmith

                          A few other suggestions:

                          Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
                          Le Philosophe

                          1. re: Riverman500

                            These are all fine recs (incl Perla) but none are that hard to get reservations.

                            1. re: thegforceny

                              The OP said: "I am also open to something less upscale and more casual/trendy/hip such as the Stanton Social, Catch, Barrio Chino, Alta, Beauty/Essex etc... If I had to list cuisines it would be American, Italian, Asian, Spanish, Mexican... "

                              I was going by those parameters when I made my suggestions.

      2. It often fluctuates with the seasons (esp if wedding anniversary or graduation season, or around Christmas), the size of your party (like Ko with a party of 3), and what date/day you want (Sat 8pm? Monday 5pm?).

        Some of the hardest ones to get into are impossible unless you know someone, though (Rao's). Others require that you're the fastest clicker X number of days out and it's not always a month out. Others, you can definitely get in but you'll never get a "good" time (Minetta). And you need to include Brooklyn if you're really talking about the absolute hardest reservations to get (Brooklyn Fare).

        New York City's 15 Toughest Tables, 2013

        Or you let us know what you're looking for, we can help you decide where to go for this special occasion based upon what you might like. And not necessarily based upon the size of the dining room and popularity of a restaurant.

        1 Reply
        1. brooklyn fare and blanca (before they went to online reservations) were the hardest reservations for me to get.

          1. You know, the trouble with restaurants that are very hard to get into is that it's very hard to get into them.

            6 Replies
              1. re: sarasmith

                It's seems based on your responses that you weren't interested in the "toughest" tickets in town, merely some good restaurant recommendations.

                1. re: ellenost

                  No, you are mistaken. I would know what I'm looking for and the question remains the same: "Toughest Tickets in Town" and I've gotten great responses from the other hounders!

                  1. re: sarasmith

                    Yes, you were told that the toughest ticket in town is, undoubtedly, EMP, and then you told us that you don't like it. Most people put those sorts of parameters in their first post.

              2. re: Sneakeater

                "No one goes there any more. They're too busy!" Y. Berra

                1. re: Sneakeater

                  HAHAHAHA now finally something that makes sense!
                  The hardest reservation to get doesn't really make sense, since sometimes the food is a disappointment.
                  Anyway, Brooklyn Fare is probably the hardest reservation to get. Nakazawa Sushi isn't so easy, Most everywhere else is pretty easy reservation to get. WD-50 is a pretty tough reservation and interesting downtown food.
                  Jungsik is easy reservation but possibly the best food.
                  Al Fiori has good food but cold business type atmosphere.
                  Kyo Ya ranks in the hard to get reservations with a good kaiseki dinner .
                  Personally, I'd go to Jean Georges even though it's north of 50th

                2. Is Momofuku Ko still hard to get into for lunch?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kyph0515

                    You still need to book 14 days in advance via their website. Occasionally rare cancellations occur to free up a seat or two.

                  2. Basically what others have said: Momofuku Ko, Blanca, Brooklyn Fare. There really aren't any tougher tickets. In all three cases you have to be comfortable dining at a bar.

                    At the next level down are the usual NYT four-star places, especially on weekends. Babbo can still be tough unless you want the outlier tables (i.e. 5:30 or 11:00)

                    Here's a fun way to test it: I picked a couple of upcoming weeknights, and checked who -didn't- have openings on Opentable. These are the good places from that list:

                    Le Bernardin
                    Per Se
                    Dirt Candy
                    ABC Kitchen / ABC Cocina

                    Nougatine: booked. Jean-Georges: lots of openings. Go figure.

                    Also, surprisingly Barbuto. I mean, they're great and all, and damn that roast chicken is fine, but would not have thought they'd be booked solid every night.

                    Also, Clyde Frazier's Wine and Dine. Sorry to any 'hounders who were hoping to get in there in the next few weeks. (No accounting for taste...)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sgordon

                      Thank you SGordon for your great answers!

                    2. If you really want "tough" call Rao's!!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Motosport

                        Rao's is in a class by itself when it comes to near-impossible-to-get bookings.

                        I really do not understand the motivation here....wanting to go to a place ONLY because it is difficult to get a reservation and equating the "best of the best" with impossibility of booking a table? Why not ask for great restaurants that are below the radar and easy to book?

                        1. re: erica

                          "below the radar" that's how we roll. Been there, done that with the fancy schmancy places.
                          When we are going out on someone's expense account and they are into fine/finest dining we'll head to one of the tough reservation places.
                          For a good laugh everyone should call Rao for a reservation and report back.

                          1. re: erica

                            Of course not the only motivation! You must be kidding? There are alot of "tough tickets" I have little to no interest in going to. But it's still fun to see what's hot and buzzed about at the time being! Loosen up! :)

                            1. re: sarasmith

                              I think the reason a number of us were having a hard time parsing your original request is that you stressed the toughness of getting a reservation, NOT the quality of the food. Sometimes they can mean the same thing, sometimes not. It would be like asking for restaurants where you could see a lot of celebrities.

                              This is a food board - that's where our priorities lie.

                        2. Don't forget Atera, definitely a tough ticket...

                          1. Might as well add Carbone to the list.

                            It's way hard to get into there.