The Toughest Restaurant Reservations In America (And How to Get Them)

Here’s how to get into some of the buzziest restaurants across the country.
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photo credit: David A. Lee

Only a few things are certain in life: death, overpaying for concert tickets, and the struggle to get into an uber-hot restaurant. But exclusivity doesn’t always translate to a meal you'll remember. The restaurants on this list are more than just hype: they're also exceedingly worth the wait. Once you’re in, you’ll experience things like ramen-based tasting menus, invite-only omakases in the back of a luxury storefront, or a perfectly crisp martini served with a side of celebrity spotting. May the reservation odds be in your favor.


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Getting a table at this Filipino restaurant that’s a cafe-by-day, fine-dining-by-night has been next to impossible since they opened in 2020, and that was before its extended cameo on The Bear. Kasama’s daytime menu includes a longanisa, egg, and cheese sandwich that inspires an hour-long wait on the weekends, but the real get here is a spot at dinner for their tasting menu. During the meal’s 13 courses, you’ll be awed by plates of lamb belly kare kare and hamachi kinilaw served with caviar in a smoke-filled dome. You’ll need to sign up for Resy notify like your life depends on it—we’ve had luck with last-minute tables as well as spots as far out as a week in advance.

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Tsuke Edomae is the gold standard for sushi purists in Austin. A meal here consists of 21 courses of small plates and edomae-style sushi, where the fish goes through an aging process to deepen umami flavors. Tickets are released once a month for the following month—usually on a Sunday at 9am, but they don’t have a consistent drop schedule, so keep tabs on their Instagram to see when the next batch of reservations are released. If that doesn’t work, you can put yourself on the waitlist. Just be ready to drop everything (except your phone) the second you get notified about a potential spot.


Beast & Cleaver isn’t just a tiny butchery—it’s also one of our favorite Seattle restaurants. On weekend evenings, they moonlight as “The Peasant" and serve an incredible tasting menu of duck pate and beef tenderloin with tallow fries. To actually get in, you’ll need to strategize a bit. You can sign up for their newsletter to get an email when the next batch of dates opens up, but our preferred strategy is to peek at their reservations 72 hours in advance, since that’s the last opportunity for people to cancel without fees. The space also has some larger tables, so we’ve had some luck getting in with a bigger group. If all else fails, you can always grab more bar-friendly bites like a 100-day-aged burger at Beast and Cleaver’s location inside Fair Isle Brewing.

photo credit: David A. Lee


Tatiana in NYC single-handedly made Lincoln Center cool again. The space feels like a quiet nightclub washed in blue lightning, and you might find yourself seated next to someone who looks like they just filmed a viral GRWM TikTok in their well-lit studio apartment. To secure a spot for these Afro-Carribean re-imaginations of classic New York dishes like wagyu chopped cheese and egusi dumplings, you’ll need to log onto Resy four weeks in advance at 12pm. If you don’t have the clicking speed of a professional e-sports athlete, there’s also a six-seat bar and 12 outdoor tables that are saved for walk-ins.


The first bite into Lilia’s sheep’s milk cheese agnolotti is a canon event in any New York eating timeline. It’s one of the city’s most essential Italian restaurants, so it’s been hard to get a table since the Obama administration. It’s easiest to get a reservation over the phone—they’re released 30 days in advance at 10am, and whatever doesn’t get picked up gets released online at midnight. There are also bar seats and outdoor tables saved for walk-ins, but don’t be surprised if you’re quoted a two-hour wait after putting your name on the list.


After a meal at this Thai restaurant in San Francisco, you’ll find yourself evangelizing about their scallop and lemongrass shots like your high school friend posting on Facebook about their MLM. Unfortunately, everyone else in the Bay Area feels the same way about the aromatic beef so tender you could cut it with a spork, so the only way to get in (for now) is to show up when they open at 5pm and try for one of their first-come, first-serve tables. They periodically drop online reservations on Opentable, so check on their socials to see when the next round of bookings opens up.


This tiny omakase counter in Houston is tucked into the back of a townhouse-turned-luxury storefront. For about $200, the tasting menu is a thrill ride of more than 18 courses, starting with perfectly sliced nigiri and ending with a special Underground Creamery dessert topped with an optional heap of caviar. To get in, you’ll have to DM them on Instagram, sign up for a newsletter, and then hope you pass whatever vibe check Neo is running to pick out their diners.


This red sauce Italian joint in LA will make you—and the other diners having friend hangs and tiramisu dates—fall into a deep nostalgic trance. Bask in the room’s dinner-party energy, slosh back icy martinis in a booth, and down chicken parm and lasagna bolognese like it's your job. Reservations are released daily, 14 days in advance at 10am, but are generally snatched up within minutes. Since they reserve a portion of the dining room for walk-ins every night, your best bet for securing a table is to show up when they open at 5:30pm.


San Francisco is a city full of great ramen spots and tasting menus, but Noodle In a Haystack is the only place in town that does both, with spectacular results. The 10-ish course meal ($185) inspired by ramen is a nonstop parade of hits. You’ll bite into 16-hour braised pork belly karaage with a toasted marshmallow-like texture, and a rotating ramen starring the chewiest noodles you’ll ever encounter. They’re completely booked through the end of 2023, so you’ll need to stay tuned to see when the next reservation batch drops. Since they only have 12 seats per night, you’ll likely improve your odds by trying to go solo.


Mujō does a stellar omakase at a 15-chair counter in Westside Atlanta, where you’ll be seated next to well-dressed couples or incognito celebrities. Over two hours, you’ll get bites like sakizuke and chūtoro nigiri, which are sure to impress any date—even one who’s low-key about being on Raya. Like many other spots on this list, Mujō drops their reservations on the first of the month for the month after, so be ready to log on at 10am or hop on Resy notify and hope for the best.


Royal Sushi & Izakaya is one of the best sushi spots in Philly because of its $160, 17-piece omakase filled to the brim with simply prepared, high-quality fish. It’s pretty common to watch someone finish their meal here by calling over a server to make a return reservation, so grabbing one of their eight sushi bar seats is basically an Olympic sport. Open slots become available 30 days out, so you should set several midnight alarms a month before your proposed sushi date, or cast a wide net of notify alerts and make a wish. Those truly desperate to just waft some of Royal Sushi’s rarefied air can also make plans to eat curry buns and torikatsu sandos at the walk-in izakaya part of the restaurant (which is great in its own right), and “get lost” on the way to the bathroom.


There are lines everywhere in Nashville—for the best hot chicken and basically every bathroom in every bar on Broadway. You won't find a line at Locust, though, because the 10-table restaurant is reservation-only, and a competitive one at that. You’ll need to put in some work to indulge in perfectly crisp chili oil dumplings and fluffy cups of shaved ice. Bookings open on the first of the month for the following month on Seven Rooms, so set your alarm for 10am or sign up for a priority alert, on the off-chance that someone gives up their seat. 


Walking into Delilah feels like entering the set of a Bond film (and not just because it’s located inside the Wynn on the Vegas Strip). Your eyes won't know where to look first—the Art Deco-inspired interiors or the plates of carrot souffle and wagyu beef wellington. Live entertainment acts can range from a live jazz band to surprise celebrity appearances—past acts have included 50 Cent or Justin Beiber. In order to find a spot to sip your cocktail and look hot, call or use a concierge service, since your odds of finding an online booking are as likely as finding decently priced parking on the Strip.


Kann, a Haitian spot in Portland, Oregon made a huge splash in 2022, filling our food-based daydreams with plantain brioche buns and smoked beef ribs, and it’s still going strong. The small space feels like a sceney dinner party in a gilded forest house, filled with the smell of smoked meats. Unlike a lot of other spots on this list, Kann drops their reservations on the second day of the month for the following month at 12pm PST. Patience is a virtue when booking, as it can take up to 30 minutes for reservations to load on Resy when they drop.


Consider Bouchon Bistro in Coral Gables to be a somewhat more attainable (and better) French Laundry—they’re from the same team, after all. That being said, every man, woman, child, and manatee is still fighting for a table here, either for a solo martini and crispy pig ears for dinner, or to celebrate getting papped alongside an NBA player. If you’re not already making regular appearances on DeuxMoi, the best way to secure a table is to strike at midnight, 30 days out, or try your luck with the notify gods. But it’s also possible to do a solo night or a date at the bar, which is open to walk-ins. Get there early for the best odds.

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