4/02/2013 09:06:00 AM

NYC Reservations Cheat Sheet: How to Score New York’s Toughest Tables

Yes, Mission Chinese does take reservations.
It’s no surprise that scoring a reservation at a hot NYC restaurant like the NoMad or Locanda Verde is tough. But after a harrowing week spent trying to plan meals for our visiting parents (and their credit cards), we realized just how tough it could be, especially since each place starts accepting rezzies at different dates and times.

We had to create an organized spreadsheet (okay, scattered Post-it notes) to keep track of everything, and thus the NYC reservation cheat sheet was born. It’ll tell you exactly how to score a reservation at one of NYC’s top restaurants. Go forth and eat.

ABC Kitchen
When it starts accepting reservations: 31 days ahead, 9 AM
Pro tip: If going for brunch, using Open Table the day they start accepting rezzies is fine; if trying for dinner, prepare to call right at 9 (and wait on hold), especially if you want to go on the weekend.

When it starts accepting reservations: 30 days ahead, 9 AM
Pro tip: It’s not on Open Table, so you must call. We spaced and didn’t call the day they started accepted rezzies, but luckily it was still easy to get a brunch reservation. Dinner might be another story.

When it starts accepting reservations: One month out, 11:30 AM
Pro tip: Call at 11:30 on the dot and cross your fingers that you’ll get through; if that fails, plan to call early on the same day you want to go to see whether they’ve had a cancellation. We scored a prime-time Friday night reservation that way.

Brooklyn Fare
When it starts accepting reservations: Once a week, on Mondays at 10:30 AM. They accept reservation six weeks out and book the entire week's worth of meals (Monday-Saturday) at that time. If you don't make it, you'll have to wait for the following Monday.
Pro tip: Every time we've called, we've been shut out within seconds. If you know a good tip for this one, please leave it in the comments.

When it starts accepting reservations: One month to the day at 9 AM
Pro tip: This hot spot appears to have cooled off a bit. We had no trouble getting a Saturday night reservation three weeks out, though two weeks out was booked.

Chez Sardine
When it starts accepting reservations: Two weeks in advance (for groups of two-four only), starting at 11 AM.
Pro tip: Call early unless you’re willing to eat before 6 or after 10. On the weekends they accept online bookings only, so visit their website a few minutes before 11 and get ready to press “go” the second the clock strikes 11.

Gramercy Tavern
When it starts accepting reservations: 28 days ahead of time, at 10 AM
Pro tip: Get ready to call right at 10. We were a few minutes late and couldn’t get our desired time (7:30).

Locanda Verde 
When it starts accepting reservations: One month ahead of time, starting at 8 AM
Pro tip: Call. When we tried to use Open Table there was nothing available; calling yielded better results. They also save space for walk-ins, so that might be your best bet.

Minetta Tavern 
When it starts accepting reservations: 30 days ahead, 9 AM
Pro tip: If going for dinner at prime hours, plan to call early (and wait on hold); if your goal is brunch or an early or late dinner, using Open Table the morning they start accepting rezzies should be fine.

Mission Chinese
When it starts accepting reservations: One week ahead, 10 AM, via a new online system
Pro tip: Good luck. We say just go early on a weeknight and enjoy the keg.

The NoMad 
When it starts accepting reservations: 29 days out, 9 AM
Pro tip: Getting a weekend dinner reservation here is an Olympic sport. Prepare to call right at 9 and wait on hold. We called at 9:04, waited on hold for seven minutes and could only get a 6:30 reservation (the other option was 5 or 10). If getting a reservation seemed too easy, that’s probably because you called the other (unrelated) Nomad in the East Village. And last, make sure you call the restaurant directly (347-472-5660); do not call the hotel.


  1. We have had the same experience at Gramercy. There must be 100+ tables; how can they take 100 reservations in a few minutes? Perhaps they hold tables back in case Robert de Niro's office rings.
    OUR PRO TIP: Build a regular relationship with the places you want. At Gramercy we always get the day and the time AND the table we want. We get the same from the other 5 or 6 top places we visit regularly. My wife has another pro tip that works EVERY time; but she wants fees to reveal it.
    Bon Appetit to all
    Michael Quinlan

    1. All the "in" restaurants hold tables back for their favorite customers. That is why you cannot nab a table even if you call the day they open their reservation books. In fact, some - will just not give it to you if they don't know you. My friends and I tried a little experiment with some of the popular restaurants - I won't name them but you know these snobby ones - and none of us could get through no matter the day or time and even when we called first thing in the morning 30 days in advance. The closest we came was a 5:30 pm reservation! As if we were farmers!

    2. Thanks for nothing.... no info of any worth.

    3. Attached to wrong comment...... should have gone to "wife wants fees" - please.

  2. I came to the conclusion that NO restaurant deserves the stress implied above! However, I will go through a few pains by calling my favorites exactly when rezzs open...last week during my yearly Easter visit to NYC I got all at times desired, at Gramercy, Le Bernardin, Balthazar, Del Posto, The Modern, Nobu 57, Marea. Nice but my pocket is screaming!!

  3. PLEASE stop saying Rezzies.

  4. The NoMad takes reservations 28 days out. Not 29.

  5. I suggest you read the Zagat article on 10 Ways to Improve the NYC Dining Scene. They have tables...just not for YOU.

    There are plenty of great restaurants that treat me as if my time and patronage were valuable. And that's where I go.