NYCGuide

The Toughest Reservations In NYC Right Now (And How To Get Them)

Our thoughts on the busiest restaurants in New York City and advice on how to get in.
A table covered in Thai food.

photo credit: Evan Sung

At any given time, there are a handful of New York City restaurants where trying to get a table feels like chasing the end of a double rainbow. Right now, these are those restaurants. The spots on this list aren’t necessarily the best restaurants in the city, but they are the hardest ones to get into—and we want you to know if they’re actually worthwhile. We also want to help you get a reservation, so you don’t have to sit at home and write sad songs about how you’ve never been to Lilia. Below, you’ll find our verdicts on the busiest places in the city, along with some info that’ll help you get that table (or bar seat). Check back for regular updates.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Bryan Kim

French

Tribeca

$$$$Perfect For:Date Night
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Verdict: This Tribeca restaurant is on the cutting edge of not being on the cutting edge. It feels intentionally unexciting, but it does have its charms. The tables are well-spaced, the vichyssoise-colored walls are tastefully uncluttered, and the French-ish prix fixe is fussy and comforting. If you appreciate old-fashioned hospitality, and hate loud music at restaurants, you’ll probably be a fan. For us, one visit was enough.

How To Get In: Eulalie only takes reservations over the phone, which is a very Eulalie thing to do. They’re already fully booked a month and a half out, and there’s a good chance that no one picks up when you call. But if you leave a message expressing your interest and availability, co-owner Tina may call you back and offer a table, in the case of any cancellations.

Verdict: If we had to choose between Bangkok Supper Club and sister establishment Fish Cheeks, we’d take Fish Cheeks every time. The flavors at BSC just aren’t as punchy as we’d like. But the two restaurants are good for different things. This newer West Village spot is more of a scene, with a menu inspired by late-night Thai food, and a crowd that overlaps with that of Le Bain. Stick to the smaller plates, like the scallop ceviche with watermelon granita.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at midnight. A few seats are saved for walk-ins, including those at the bar.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Verdict: Roscoli, a Rome transplant in Soho, doesn’t do anything too fancy. They play the hits, like amatriciana and carbonara, and they play them at a very high level. The space has two floors, with a tasting menu downstairs, and à la carte dining in the upstairs area that looks like a fancy deli featuring well-dressed toddlers and perfectly marbled mortadella. Wherever you wind up, anticipate burrata.

How To Get In: For the tasting menu, reservations are released 30 days in advance at 10am. For à la carte dining (which we prefer), they're released 14 days in advance at 10am. Walk-ins for à la carte dining are accepted starting at 5pm, and, if you’re serious about this, you should get here by 4:30pm. We arrived at 5:30pm on a Monday and were quoted a four-hour wait.

photo credit: Café Carmellini

$$$$Perfect For:Date Night

Verdict: An expensive-looking place that is, in fact, expensive. We counted two floors, six chandeliers, and several full-size trees parked above velvet banquettes. The menu is a mashup of French, Italian, and American—with mains starting around $45—and everything is mildly delicious and slightly disappointing for the money. You don’t need the duck tortellini, but you do need to eat every last scrap of the free bread.

How To Get In: Reservations are released two weeks in advance at 9am. There's a bar, but it’s only for drinks, and you have to have a dinner reservation to sit there. This place does, however, accept walk-ins. If you want to count the chandeliers for yourself, put your name in with the host.

Verdict: This winter, you’re going to want to find a place where you can sit beside a flickering lamp and gaze out a window while you eat profiteroles. Choose Sailor. The new Fort Greene bistro is off to a strong start, thanks to a fantastic seafood-heavy menu with multiple kinds of toast and an intimate nautical-themed dining room that features what appears to be a taxidermied lobster.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online two weeks in advance at 11am. Bar seats are saved for walk-ins, but get here early. At 6pm on a Wednesday, the wait for two was two hours.

Verdict: The Polo Bar is so preppy, their tap water tastes like seersucker. Ralph Lauren’s tartan-filled, subterranean Midtown country club has cornered the market on equestrian paintings and parquet ceilings, and it’s the closest you’ll get to a guaranteed celebrity sighting. Is the food good? Who cares? You’re here for the scene. (But yes, the food is good. Try the corned beef sandwich.)

How To Get In: In order to book a table, you have to call (212) 207-8562. Reservations are released roughly one month in advance on the matching calendar date—on September 30th, for example, you can book for October 30th—and the phone line opens at 10am. If you can’t snag a reservation, try calling around 4pm on the day-of to see if there were any last-minute cancellations.

Verdict: It seems like The Four Horsemen has been picking up steam. Given the snowballing hype around natural wine bars, that isn’t surprising. When it opened in 2015, this little Williamsburg spot was ahead of its time, and it continues to serve creative small plates worth seeking out.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at 7am. There was a time when you could get one of those reservations last-minute, but now your best bet is to try to snag one of the barstools up front. We prefer those seats anyway.

Verdict: Of all the restaurants run by Unapologetic Foods, Dhamaka (and, briefly, Masalawala & Sons) used to be the hardest to get into. Now, that honor goes to Semma. It opened back in 2021, but this West Village spot is busier than ever—and the success is well-deserved. Semma's coastal South Indian dishes make excellent use of cardamom, cinnamon, and countless other spices. Be sure to pre-order the Dungeness crab. Only a few are available every night.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at midnight. There aren't any tables saved for walk-ins, but there are 12 seats at the bar, so you can always try your luck there.

photo credit: The Office of Mr. Moto

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Verdict: The Office of Mr. Moto isn't the city's first sushi speakeasy, and it isn't even the first sushi speakeasy in the East Village. But this restaurant still feels special. You have to solve a riddle in order to get in, and the space is decorated with various antiques, like one of the first Japanese pay phones. A meal here costs $200 and includes 21 courses. Expect things like gizzard shad with yuzu kosho and baby cuttlefish with a bit of yuzu juice.

How To Get In: This place is already booked through March, but there's a waitlist you can put your name on. New reservations are released at 10am on the first of every month for the entire following month, so set a reminder for March 1st if you want to eat here in April. Reservations are prepaid, and they sell out quickly. The Office of Mr. Moto is not currently accepting walk-ins.

Verdict: One of the city's Best Restaurants. Located inside David Geffen Hall on the Upper West Side, Tatiana feels like a quiet nightclub—with soft blue lighting and beaded silver curtains—and serves food that blends Afro-Caribbean flavors with iconic New York dishes. Expect things like egusi dumplings, curried goat patties, and short rib pastrami suya.

How To Get In: Reservations are released four weeks in advance at 12pm. If you can't snag one of those, try the six-seat bar that's held for walk-ins, or swing by around opening and put your name in for a table. When we arrived on a Tuesday at 4:45pm, the line was already 10-people deep, and our four-person party was seated at 5:40pm. Get a drink in the lobby of David Geffen Hall while you wait.

Verdict: Torrisi Bar & Restaurant is an Italian place in Nolita from the people behind Carbone, but it's a different sort of production. Unlike Carbone, the space is huge, and the menu shows a range of influence (chicken livers with Manischewitz, octopus Nha Trang, etc.). This is a great choice for a big night out, and it's going to be annoyingly hard to get into for quite some time.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at 10am. There's also a large bar area up front that's saved for walk-ins. We came on a weeknight around 6pm to see if we could snag a few of those seats, and they quoted us a four-hour wait. So maybe bring a crossword—or come for lunch.

Verdict: This isn’t just one of the top KBBQ places. It’s one of the top places to eat red meat in the city, and the $74 Butcher’s Feast with banchan, tofu stew, four cuts of beef, and soft serve is one of our all-time favorite prix-fixe meals.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at 10am. Walk-ins aren’t accepted, but you can call for a reservation, and we’ve been told it’s easier to get a table that way.

Verdict: Carbone is overhyped. It’s so overhyped, in fact, that you’ll hear people claim that the food here isn’t even any good. That is untrue. The red sauce Italian food at Carbone is consistently delicious. This is just such a sceney restaurant, and there are so many other places where you can get excellent Italian food in this city. The only real reason to struggle for a table here is if you want to sit in a chair that Rihanna might have once occupied.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 30 days in advance at 10am. Walk-ins are not accepted. Best of luck.

Verdict: Lilia isn't that good. That's a lie, and we apologize. We just want you to stop trying to get a table at Lilia, so we can go more often and enjoy a better quality of life. This Williamsburg Italian restaurant continues to serve top-tier pasta, and, yes, those sheep's milk cheese-filled agnolotti are still on the menu. So is the gelato. Order it.

How To Get In: There’s one very important thing to keep in mind when it comes to getting a table at Lilia: They take reservations over the phone. In fact, it’s easier to get a table over the phone. Reservations are released 30 days in advance at 10am, and whatever isn’t booked over the phone gets released online at midnight. Bar seats and a few outdoor tables (weather permitting) are saved for walk-ins. The last time we stopped by, we had to wait around two hours after putting our name in. It was worth it.

photo credit: Kate Previte

$$$$Perfect For:Special Occasions

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Verdict: This is still one of the best fine-dining options in town, and it’s not that stuffy. Dinner (starting at $395) takes place at a U-shaped counter, with around 12 Korean-influenced courses accompanied by illustrated flash cards. The attention to detail is impressive, and the food is always pristine, satisfying, and inventive.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online on the first of each month at 3pm. It’s important to note that the month’s entire slate of reservations becomes available on the first. So that’s your only window. There’s also an online waitlist you can join. You can also find exclusive reservations available for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders here.

Verdict: We’d like to be eating at 4 Charles Prime Rib right now. Unfortunately, this small, subterranean West Village spot somehow hasn’t become any easier to get into since it opened in 2016. Try to get a seat here. We believe in you, and we think you should start your meal with a burger before moving onto creamed spinach and prime rib.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online 21 days in advance at 9am. They don’t save seats for walk-ins, but you can put your name on a waitlist and hope for cancellations.

Verdict: Even though it’s always packed, we still think Don Angie doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Their Italian menu—with its stuffed flatbread and sourdough pasta—is very much doing its own thing, and the cocktail list is pretty cool too. Try this place at least once. You'll appreciate the creativity.

How To Get In: Reservations are released online seven days in advance at 9am. The bar is reserved for walk-ins, and bar seats are surprisingly attainable. Sure, you might have to wait an hour or so, but don’t be afraid to stop by and put your name in.

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