Have you ever wondered how to get into Per Se? How to get a reservation at the French Laundry? How to score a table at the hottest restaurant in town?
I've debated writing this post for years now, because I don't want to give away my secrets and make it harder when I travel for a Michelin starred restaurant. But this is something I've been asked so often, I just had to share.
Tips for Getting a Reservation at a Michelin Starred Restaurant
1. Plan in advance as much as possible (at least 1-3 months). If you know you want to go to a certain restaurant call or read their reservation policy online. In my experience, most places in New York like Per Se accept reservations one month out to the day but Masa it's three weeks and for Momofuku it's two weeks for lunch and one for dinner. In Vegas it's often three months for places like Picasso, Mix, or Michael Mina. Figure out the first day you can make a reservation, and call as soon as the reservation line opens. It may be busy the first time (or ten or twenty times). Think of it like buying concert tickets, or calling into a radio station. Just keep dialing until you get through.
2. This doesn't always work, but I've found that sometimes a handful of reservations become available on Open Table the midnight before the reservation line opens. If you're awake, give it a try.
3. Be flexible - travel on dates when people usually leave the city. Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day are perfect times to score normally hard to get reservations as long as they don't close for the holiday (some restaurants do). I've also found the day after Thanksgiving is an easy day for reservations, because most people aren't even thinking about dining out after all that food. So eat light and save your appetite for the next night... I'd take a tasting menu over turkey any day!
4. The same goes for being flexible about what time you eat. Take the 5 or 10PM reservation, or take them both! You're on vacation, sleep in, brunch at noon, eat lunch at 5PM and dinner at 10. Maybe check out the spa, do some shopping or sight seeing in between... perfect!
5. Go for lunch or brunch. Some places like Momofuku just as good, if not better for lunch.
6. If none of these work, start calling the high end hotels. Most of their concierges have relationships with these restaurants and my theory (though unconfirmed) is they somehow block off a handful of reservations for hotel guests. Tell the hotel you're planning a trip specifically for X restaurant and you'll book right now if they can get you in.
7. Call the day of and check for cancellations.
8. If all else fails, show up when they open and try to walk in or get a seat at the bar (if you do this have a back up plan).