New York City is the mecca of all things food, culture, and fashion. You can experience just about every cultural delight, especially through the food scene. In fact, New York City is one of the densest eatery locations in the world, offering food options from pizza parlors to luxury multiple course meals; food enthusiasts from all over the world are drawn to the city’s rich food cultural experience. Aside from offering some of the best food options in the world, there are also a handful of some of the most exclusive restaurants that many wait several months to enjoy if they are lucky enough to even get a reservation at all.
What makes these restaurants so exclusive is not only the dining experience, but their rich historical relationship with the city, and of course, the incredible food they serve their customers. Many of these restaurants, if you are fortunate enough to experience, may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. For others, finding a connection is all that is needed to enter the doors of these most coveted restaurants. This is a list of some of NYC’s most elegant, classy, and exclusive restaurants, and tips of how you can get in.
Chef’s Table At Brooklyn Fare
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Chef’s Table At Brooklyn Fare is a highly exclusive, three star Michelin restaurant located in an ordinary part of Brooklyn, New York. It is an extremely small space, and only provides 16 seats. You will be seated at the kitchen island, which wraps around the kitchen. This seating set up offers a new perspective into the kitchen, and allows you to experience the food creations come to life and served immediately. The space is elegant, and is designed with an industrial feel offering natural woods, soft lighting, and concrete ceilings. The tasting menu is extremely intricate and can take up to 2 hours to go through. But for the devote patron, they are more than willing to savor each bite for 2 whole hours (1).
Chef César Ramirez is the artist behind the food and has worked to create an exquisite menu of traditional Japanese food with French influence, putting his restaurant on the map for one of the most exclusive in the city. With dishes that include truffle ravioli and brandade, Chef César Ramirez was quickly decorated not only with a 3 Michelin Star review, but also a James Beard award.
Reservations can be made online or by phone and are only available Monday – Friday 10:30am – 5:00pm are fill up very far in advanced. At a minimum, you can expect to wait about 6 weeks, but it can take up to several months of waiting before you are able to enjoy the experience.
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Le Bernardin is another incredible restaurant located in Midtown Manhattan. French born chef, Eric Ripert, actually started his restaurant in Paris, France and was later brought to the United States with the renowned chef moved to the city. The brilliant Ripert has created an elegant, but simple menu focusing on French seafood cuisine (2). His signature dishes such as baked lobster, goeduck sashimi, and royal osetra caviar are the epitome of luxury dining. In fact, his food won him many awards including a four-star rating from New York Times, 3 Michelin Stars, and multiple James Beard awards including Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Chef, and Outstanding Wine. To top it off, he also won multiple design awards for the interior ambiance of his restaurant. The restaurant is a soft, comfortable lighting, beautiful dining furniture, and natural wood accents making it an incredibly breathtaking space for dining.
The restaurant only accepts reservation requests online or by phone. They open reservations up on the first of every month for the following month and is extremely hard to get in to. Be prepared for a long wait, and many months of trying to make a reservation before it fills up completely.
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Last but not least, is Rao’s located in East Harlem. Arguably the most exclusive restaurant in NYC, this restaurant offers only 10 tables to their customers. With their bright red entrance, and old-school New York interior, this restaurant would not be considered to have a fancy aesthetic compared to the other restaurants. Their goal was to keep the old street aesthetic of New York alive, so instead you are met with a comfortable, homey, rough around the edges feel.
They are known for their incredible Italian food, and have been in business since 1896. The food, of course, is authentic Italian food and is known especially for their red sauce they make in house, although their sauce can be bought on some store shelves. The restaurant takes pride in their most popular dishes such as Italian sliders, steak pizzaiola, and their huge meatballs (3). Customers can choose to enjoy these meatballs in sliders, as cocktail meatballs, or even on top of a spaghetti muffin.
Aside from the traditional heart and soul of Italian eatery passed down through the Rao family, what makes this restaurant so exclusive is the ability to get in. Years ago, when the restaurant started gaining popularity, their devout long-time customers found it difficult to make reservations. Their solution was to give these regular customers priority on these tables. Now, the only way to land the coveted table spot at Rao’s is to build a connection with a long-time customer who can bring you along.
Are They Worth It?
The bottom line is, these restaurants are exclusive for a reason. Their menu’s, ambiance, and the overall experience you will have at these restaurants is unmatched to anything else in the city, and quite possibly the world. Having the opportunity to dine at one of these incredible locations may truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity that only a few get to take advantage of. It is our recommendation that if you are a ‘foodie’ or food enthusiast to try your hand at securing a reservation at some of these restaurants. Whether you are local to the city or not, these restaurants are so highly acclaimed they are deemed as worth traveling to that country just to experience the food they offer.