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How (and When) to Secure the Hardest Tables in NYC Right Now

torrisi nyc
How to Snag the Hardest NYC Reservations Right NowTorrisi/Scott Frances

It can feel impossible to dine in New York City without a reservation. Well, not impossible. There are over 20,000 restaurants in the Big Apple, and there are plenty you could walk into on any given night and get a great table, have a delicious meal, and leave satisfied. But New Yorkers want their dining experiences to feel a little more special. They want to breathe the rarefied air of the buzziest restaurants while sitting at the most unattainable table possible.

Getting into these spaces may require luck, impeccable timing, patience, persistence, or finding a loophole—but that makes the prize of a coveted table that much more gratifying and well-earned. Surely, the reservation game has gotten more competitive in recent years, though, and it can feel exhausting to keep up with the ever-evolving list of New York's hottest restaurants. (We can thank TikTok for that.) Luckily, most of these places have methods to their madness, so if you time it right, there's hope for an opening—even if it's a seat at the bar at 5 p.m. that you booked a month in advance. Or a spontaneous, quiet walk-in lunch on a Sunday. Hey, beggars can't be choosers, right?

Here's a rundown of the hottest and hardest New York City reservations worth getting right now and exactly how and when to do it. And we promise every spot on this list is worth it.

The Polo Bar

This Ralph Lauren-owned restaurant in Midtown has been a celebrity hotspot for about 10 years now, and it's still one of the hardest tables to score. (When it's good, it's good.) To get one, call (212) 207-8562 when phone lines open at 10 a.m. exactly 30 days in advance. While you still might only get a table at, say, 5 p.m. or 10 p.m., it's worth it to soak up The Polo Bar's unmatched ambiance—and to potentially see a celeb while sipping on a crisp martini and taking a bite of a classic burger. There are unfortunately no walk-ins here—you can only grab a drink at the bar if you have a dinner reservation.

1 East 55th Street

a restaurant with tables set
Cristina Corvino

Carbone

When you think of celebrity hotspots, restaurants that are difficult to get into, and dishes you're dying to taste, chances are you think of Carbone and its internet-famous spicy rigatoni. And who can blame you? The Greenwich Village staple has reached new levels of popularity in recent years, thanks to a combination of TikTok attention and its celebrity clientele. To get in, try Resy at 10 a.m. exactly 30 days ahead. They don't take walk-ins, sorry! Otherwise, might we suggest flying to Las Vegas, Dallas, or Miami to eat at one of their other locations?

181 Thompson Street

a table with plates of food
Cristina Corvino

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant

Torrisi is one of the newer restaurants on this list, so you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who's not clamoring for a table here and a chance to try the star item: tortellini pomodoro. The sizable space—separated into the bar room and the dining room (shown here)—offers a unique take on Italian food that lives up to the hype. Reservations open up on Resy at 10 a.m. 30 days in advance, but if you don't have any luck, the bar, where the full menu is served, is reserved for walk-ins. While you're there in person, you can add your name to the waitlist for a table in the bar room.

275 Mulberry Street

torrisi nyc
Torrisi/Scott Frances

Don Angie

Dreaming of trying this famous lasagna for two or stuffed garlic bread? You'll have to act quickly. Reservations for Don Angie open on Resy at 9 a.m. one week in advance. The fairly small bar is available for walk-ins, so if you're not having any luck booking online, show up to the West Village spot on the early side and put your name down for a bar stool.

103 Greenwich Avenue

lasagna
Cristina Corvino

The Nines

Chances are, you've seen this all-red NoHo piano bar known for its killer drinks and caviar service on social media. Reservations here, where you're encouraged to dress—you guessed it—to "the nines," open on Resy a month in advance, with weekend spots going most quickly. While spots in the dining room are difficult to come by, the front parlor room and bar are held for walk-ins, so try your luck—especially on a weeknight. As general manager Sophie Deverell tells us, "If you're looking to get into the main dining room, all I can say is book early and good luck—and it doesn't hurt to come dressed to the nines."

9 Great Jones Street

the nines nyc
The Nines/Liz Clayman

I Sodi

The good news? This Italian gem recently relocated to a larger location. The catch? The few tables still fill up quickly. But don't worry, there are ways to do it—and you'll be glad you did. Reservations drop on Resy two weeks in advance at midnight, but if you blink, you'll miss them. You'll have a better chance of snagging a spot at the bar if you put your name down right when the doors open for dinner at 4:30 p.m. (or, honestly, earlier, to get in line). We've also had luck walking in for lunch around 12 p.m. on a sleepy Sunday with no wait. Once you're in, get the lasagna and the pasta al limone.

314 Bleecker Street

i sodi lasagna pasta
Cristina Corvino

Semma

This coastal South Indian hotspot in the West Village has never been more popular—and it's thoroughly worth it to try to snag a seat here. Reservations drop on Resy 15 days in advance, but if you miss out, the restaurant accepts walk-ins for seats at the bar. (While there, you can check to see if they have any last-minute cancellations or no-shows.) Like we said, you'll want to try this one from every angle.

60 Greenwich Avenue

semma nyc
Semma

Roscioli

This import from Rome should be very high on your list right now. While reservations for the tasting menu experience open on Resy 30 days in advance at 10 a.m., reservations for Roscioli's just-as-good á la carte menu open on Resy 14 days in advance at 10 a.m. Both are solid options. The restaurant also accepts walk-ins, but expect a lengthy wait. It's a small space with high demand—you do the math.

43 MacDougal Street

pasta
Courtesy of Roscioli/Gary He

Jean's

Jean's started as an event-only underground club, but the vibey NoHo locale recently opened its street-level restaurant space and has quickly proven to be one of the hottest tables in town. It's the kind of place where you never know who you're going to see, which is part of the appeal. Though many prime seats are reserved for neighbors and weekly regulars, submit a request via SevenRooms here to secure a table of your own. And here's a sweet tip: Shared exclusively with us by co-owner Max Chodorow, Jean's reserves one prime 8 p.m. four-top each night for dinners with parents and grandparents, so email folks@jeans.nyc if you're hoping to dine in with your folks.

415 Lafayette Street

jean's nyc
© MAEGAN GINDI

Via Carota

Via Carota–from the same restaurateurs behind I Sodi—is another well-documented celebrity favorite (surely, you've seen Taylor Swift drop by with friends), and it's not just for the atmosphere or privacy. One taste of the food, and you'll understand why. While the West Village restaurant does release limited reservations via Resy 30 days in advance, your best bet is to line up outside the restaurant around 4 or 5 p.m., put your name down, and expect a fairly hefty wait—or be fine with seats at the bar. (Be fine with seats at the bar!) FYI: It's also just as delicious for lunch.

51 Grove Street

pasta
Cristina Corvino

COTE Korean Steakhouse

This famous Korean BBQ restaurant in Flatiron opens its reservations exactly 30 days in advance at 10 a.m. via both Resy and by phone (212-401-7986). Word on the street is that you might have better luck if you go the phone route first, which we know is scary for phone-call-averse millennials—but it's absolutely worth it to try the Butcher's Feast. FYI: We're told reservations are easiest to secure with groups of four or six, and prime time is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., so maybe shoot for an earlier or later meal.

You can also walk in and try to snag a spot at the standing-only bar, where the full à la carte menu is served—but plan to return for the full sit-down experience that makes Cote so special.

16 West 22nd Street

cote nyc
Gary He

Lilia

Opened by Missy Robbins in 2016, Lilia has been the hottest (and hardest to get into) restaurant in Brooklyn ever since. Diners hoping to try one of the incredible pastas should first try calling the restaurant directly at 10 a.m. exactly 30 days in advance. If unsuccessful over the phone, try Resy, where remaining reservations are offered at midnight that same night. If that approach also doesn't work, there is walk-in space available at both the bar and the restaurant's outdoor tables—so try putting your name down when doors open at 4 p.m. It can feel like a lot of effort, but getting into Lilia is worth your while for the pink peppercorn malfaldine alone, we promise.

567 Union Avenue, Brooklyn

a bowl of cereal next to a bowl of cereal and a bowl of cereal
Cristina Corvino

Libertine

Tables at this new, authentic French bistro in the West Village open up on Resy 30 days in advance at 7 a.m., and while the notify list can run up to 1500 people per night, owner Cody Pruitt has said that it is very possible to get off the list and nab a table. Resy is the only way to get a reservation here, but the bar stools are available for walk-ins on a first come, first served basis.

684 Greenwich Street

libertine nyc
Libertine/Evan Sung

L'Artusi

This West Village staple opened in 2008, but it's still a tough table to get. Reservations open on Resy on a rolling basis starting at 9 a.m. two weeks in advance. No luck? Try their sister restaurant, B'artusi, for a more casual dining experience down the street that's just as delicious.

228 West 10th Street

l'artusi pasta west village
Tucker Johns

Raf's

This NoHo locale has a neighborhood feel and focuses on fare from Italy and France. Reservations tend to go on Resy quickly, but you still have hope as a walk-in. As co-owner Nicole Vitagliano tells us, "A large focus of our business is engaging with our community. We always welcome and encourage drop-in guests. The front room and bar are left open to accommodate those wishing to drop in. We also offer a waitlist and are happy to contact you via text as soon as we can accommodate. If you're kind and respectful to our staff, we'll be happy to welcome you back any time!"

290 Elizabeth Street

rafs nyc
Gentl & Hyers

Bangkok Supper Club

The fare at this scene-y Meatpacking District haunt is inspired by late-night Thai food, and it's all the rage right now. Reservations open on Resy at midnight 30 days in advance, but you also might have some luck just walking in: The restaurant reserves a quarter of the tables, as well as the entire bar, for walk-ins. If you're going to just show up, the restaurant tells us it's busiest around 7 p.m., so try your luck either on the earlier or later side.

641 Hudson Street

bangkok supper club nyc
Courtesy of Bangkok Supper Club/Evan Sung

Rao's

We're ending with an absolute classic, which has been nearly impossible to get into for decades. Yes—decades. And for good reason. The iconic East Harlem Italian restaurant has been open for over 100 years, and for the past 50 or so years, about 60 percent of the tables have been reserved for locals and regulars that the restaurant was opened to serve in the first place. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal until you realize that Rao's only has 10 tables, meaning that there are just four tables per night open to be reserved in the first place. To shoot your shot, call the restaurant directly at (212) 722-6709. Or you can walk in, wait at the bar for hours, and hope to replicate this success story. Your move!

Oh, and if all else fails, there are locations in Los Angeles or Miami too.

455 East 114th Street

famed harlem restaurant rao's offers takeout for first time in 124 year history
Michael M. Santiago - Getty Images

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