Every once in awhile we like to check in on the most wanted tables in New York. Where are people trying to go, where are they locked out of, which are the primo resys in the city right this moment? So what follows is a list of tough tables, some that take reservations but are booked solid or are a plain bitch to get, some that don't take resys at all, and some that might as well be private clubs.
1) Torrisi Italian Specialties: Sandwich spot by day, James Beard nominated 2-star restaurant by night. Since they have opened, their no reservation policy has led to long waits on Mulberry Street, starting at 6 PM. However, when you are lucky enough to eventually get a table the host will personally call you on your phone to come back. 250 Mulberry Street, (212) 965-0955.
2) Babbo: Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich opened this West Villager in 1998 and immediately the praise rolled in. Babbo currently boasts two 3-star reviews from the New York Times and a Best New Restaurant James Beard Award. Babbo only accepts reservations on the phone or in person and they recommend calling one month out for prime time reservations on weekdays and weekends. Call right at 10 AM, and expect a long hold period. Or call their confirmation line day of to ask for cancellations. 110 Waverly Place, (212) 777-0303.
3) Brooklyn Fare The popularity of Chef Cesar Ramirez's Chef's Table at Brooklyn grocery store Brooklyn Fare has just ballooned over the last year what with his Michelin star and rave reviews from the local critics, making a resy all but impossible. Even price hikes and Ramirez's notoriously gruff attitude haven't deterred the crowds. Plan on booking six weeks out. 200 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn; 718-243-0050 or email email@example.com
4) The Lion: Yes, it's still a pain to get a reservation at John DeLucie's Village spot The Lion. And even when you do get a reservation—probably early or late—they'll try to seat you in the dark and loud barroom instead of in the wonderful back room full of skylights and celebrities. 62 West 9th St., 212-353-8400.
5) Red Rooster: Marcus Samuelsson's newish Red Rooster has been hot since its highly anticipated and slightly delayed opening. Add a glowing review from Sifton and now it has become quite difficult to get a table at this uptown destination. It is recommended that you book a table a few weeks to a month out. 310 Lenox Avenue, (212) 792-9001.
6) Peter Luger Steak House: Peter Luger has been known as one of the city's best steakhouses for years. And with a reservation book that seems to be nearly as old as the restaurant (1887) plus a no-nonsense staff it can be somewhat difficult to get in here. 178 Broadway, Williamsburg, (718) 387-7400.
7) Il Mulino: Another Italian toughie. Il Mulino opened their doors in '81 and has been enjoying praise from the people and the press ever since. They are notoriously bad about reservations: people rarely answer the phone over there and and often even if you do have a reservation, they'll take it upon themselves to let you enjoy some more time waiting at the bar. 86 West 3rd Street (212) 673-3783.
8) Momofuku Ko: David Chang's 12-seat, prix fixe only restaurant may not be as buzzed about or in high-demand as it was when it opened in 2008, but just try getting one of those online resys for a primo time at 10 AM. Not looking very good. 163 1st Avenue, No phone, no reservations.
9) Minetta Tavern: Keith McNally's clubby West Village restaurant has received plenty of delicious praise, and getting in there can be a tough one unless you're a serious regular. Good news though, the full menu can be ordered at the bar. 113 MacDougal Street, 212-475-3850.
10) Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Blue Hill at Stone Barns is the pinnacle of farm-to-table dining in New York. The reservation office is open 9 AM - 5 PM everyday, and it's recommended you call closer to that 9 AM time. Booking two months in advance is required for weekends, but during the week it varies based on the time of year, time, etc. Spring, Summer and Fall are all slightly more popular than Winter. 630 Bedford Road, Tarrytown, NY, 914-366-9600.
11) La Esquina: This Lower East Side hotspot has an interesting history, with multiple forced closings and residents who have some serious beef with the spot. However people are still trying to get in here due to its somewhat exclusive lower level dining room. You can call to book in the Brasserie three weeks out (if anyone will pick up), but the Taqueria and Cafe are walk in only. 106 Kenmare Street (646) 613-7100.
12) Rao's: Unless you're in good with someone who "owns" one of the tables at Rao's (which are redistributed every year, but mostly to the same folks), forget it. But you can stop by for a drink. 455 E. 114th Street, 212-722-6709.
Runners up: Tough standbys The Little Owl and Eleven Madison Park are no piece of cake, and neither are Fedora (resys released day of) and Anita Lo's Annisa. Oh and just try eating at Roberta's on a Friday night without having a two hour wait.
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