5 Notoriously Exclusive New York Restaurants

Yes, there are some places in New York City that are even harder to get into than Hamilton.  Amazing chefs, intimate settings, and century-old legacies make some of New York’s eateries notoriously exclusive.  These five NYC restaurants are so popular that reservations are nearly impossible to come by.

The Polo Bar

Ralph Lauren’s NYC restaurant is famously difficult to get into, due to its popularity with high-powered business people and celebrities.  With its plaid decor and leather seating, the lounge looks like it has been torn straight from a Polo ad, but don’t expect to see any of it without a reservation.  Bouncers flank the entry, and those without reservations are not even let in the door.

Sushi Nakazawa

When the food critic for the New York Times gives a restaurant a four-star rating, you know reservations are going to skyrocket.  Since Pete Wells’ glowing review, Sushi Nakazawa has been booked solid.  Tables at this decadent sushi restaurant are booked months in advance.  Patrons from all over attempt to secure a chance to try chef Daisuke Nakazawa’s fare.

Momofuku Ko

Each of the Momofuku restaurants are popular NYC spots, but Momofuku Ko may be the most difficult to get into.  If you would like to try the restaurant’s seasonal tasting menu, you will need to spend some time in front of your computer.  The restaurant’s online reservation system allows potential diners to attempt dinner reservations 15 days out.  But you are likely to spend a lot of time hitting the refresh button and praying that a table opens up.

The Chef’s Table

You would think a restaurant that charges over $300 per meal would have limited patronage, but that is not the case for The Chef’s Table.  This 3 Michelin star restaurant has only 18 seats in the entire restaurant.  Reservations are six weeks in advance.  Demand is still so high that seats for the two hour tasting menu are not guaranteed even with that much notice.


Rao’s is one of the oldest family-owned and operated restaurants in New York City.  To eat there you must have a pedigree just as impressive.  Some very lucky patrons have “table rights,” allowing them to essentially own one of the restaurant’s 10 tables.  Those regulars then have to fill the table every night, either by going themselves or by extending a highly coveted invite.  According to the owner, every table in the restaurant has been full every night for the past 38 years.

Have you been to any of these notoriously exclusive New York City restaurants?  You might also try these one of a kind Michelin star eateries.

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5 Notoriously Exclusive New York Restaurants