1. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare - Brooklyn
This three Michelin-starred restaurant seats 18 patrons at a time and requires a reservation six weeks in advance. Chef Cesar Ramirez’s prix-fixe dinner consists of over twenty small plate courses.
2. Sukiyabashi Jiro - Ginza
Located in a Tokyo subway station this Michelin Guide 3-star sushi joint accommodates only ten diners at a time. Reservations are accepted by phone but the website is nice enough to warn you that you probably won’t be able to get through. Chef Jiro and his restaurant were recently a subject of the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
3. Totoraku - Los Angeles
Unless you know owner Chef Kaz Oyama or are a guest of someone who knows him, good luck getting into this red meat lovers’ haven. Hidden by the façade of a closed Teriyaki House, this family-style intimate restaurant serves exotic plates including Monkfish Liver with Jellyfish and Beef Throat Carpaccio.
4. é by José Andrés - Las Vegas
With bar-style seating for 8, this tucked away eatery located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino requires a reservation exactly one month in advance for one of its two nightly seatings. The chefs make your meal right in front of you as you dine on plates of chickpea spheres and “fizzy paper.”
5. noma - Copenhagen
We’re not good at math but we’re pretty sure that when a sixty seat restaurant receives over 100,000 reservations a month, the chances of getting a table equate to something around… a fat chance.
6. Hudson Clearwater Restaurant- New York City
Want to dine alongside Jay-z and the back of Usher’s head? Then don’t go to the address listed on the Hudson Clearwater Restaurant website! The hidden restaurant is located on another West Village street entirely and has no numerical address or sign on the entrance… Good Luck!
7. Tintoreria Dontell - Barcelona
Even if you find the this Mediterranean fusion restaurant hidden inside a functioning laundromat, the real challenge is getting past the fingerprint scan needed to enter the exclusive restaurant/nightclub. The atmospheric eatery’s address is only given to you once your reservation is confirmed. And don’t bother trying the website, it only lists dry cleaning services.
8. The Gorbals - Los Angeles
Winner of Top Chef season 2 Ilan Hall is the owner and Executive Chef of this Downtown LA hipster hangout. Tucked in an alley among some of LA’s oldest architecture, the restaurant is strategically located in an area that some people may be scared to go in order to ward off riff-raff and entice foodies. The Gorbals is now home to Esquire Network’s new food competition show, Knife Fight, where seasoned chefs fight for street-cred.
9. Chef Vola’s - Atlantic City
The Esposito Family (pictured above) have been serving authentic Italian food out of a restaurant located in the basement of a house in AC for over thirty years. With a password protected website, you need to know someone in the family to get a reservation for a seat at one of the restaurant’s twelve tables.
10. The Fat Duck - Bray, Berkshire
Who would think that a 16th century English cottage would house one of the most sought-after molecular gastronomy restaurants in the world? Serving 42 diners at a time, The Fat Duck’s employee to customer ratio is 1-to-1.
11. Next - Chicago
Grant Achatz’s unconventional restaurant sells tickets and season passes instead of reservations. The restaurant’s theme changes every few months creating enough buzz to sell out the 2012 dining season in just six hours.
12. Frenchie - Paris (duh)
Marchand Grégory’s intimate French eatery, located on a small cobblestone stretch just off Montorgueil, is notorious for not answering their phones let alone their reservation line. But like the best negligent relationship you’ve ever had… foodies keep coming back for more.
13. Momofuku Ko - New York City
A 12 seat restaurant with a $175 lunch tasting menu and a $125 dinner tasting menu that change every day based on market availability. Hopefully the day you go will feature ice cream with foie gras shavings. Seriously… that’s a thing.
14. The French Laundry - Napa Valley
Chef and owner Tom Keller’s two nine-course tasting menus never repeat an ingredient and cost $270 respectively. If that’s not hoity-toity enough for you then you can choose to dine privately. Fair warning that private dining reservations need to be booked a year in advance.
15. Bohemian - New York City
Winning the “cliquiest most popular girl in high school” restaurant award, invitations and reservations to Bohemian are by referral only. If you don’t know someone who has dined at Bohemian before who can refer you, you can submit a self-intro on the restaurant’s website for a slight chance of receiving an invite. Bohemian’s spokeswoman Kimi Watanabe calls the restaurant “a secret hide-out for our beloved Nakama,” Nakama is Japanese for ‘a group of people who are feeling the same vibe.’