Joelle Mentis, Writer
You’ve heard of cult vineyards. But we think restaurants deserve their own cult category, too. Because some of these chefs have mad skillz. And at these places, there’s often a three-month, six-month, or even longer wait. One list has 15,000 people on it. So for those of you who live to travel and travel to eat, well, we have a restaurant for that. In fact, we have six of the hardest restaurant reservations in the world for you.
The Restaurant: Mirazur
Even if you stay at the best hotel in the South of France, your chances of getting a reservation here are 80/20, in the unfavorable direction. You’ve got to plan ahead, so save your spontaneity for that afternoon helicopter ride in Saint-Tropez. Snagging a coveted Mirazur table is all about preparation and planning. It’s one of the hardest restaurant reservations in the world, but with planning and flexibility with dates, you’ve got a good shot. Head Chef Mauro Colagreco has Italian and Argentinian heritage and, after training under elite French chefs, has forged his own path.
Mirazur is the restaurant you always hear is one of the best in all of France. And more often than not, diners attest that it’s worth the hype. Unlike other French Michelin-starred restaurants, Colagreco’s place has fun with food. While the cuisine is firmly gastronomic, it’s not unapproachable. The ingredients come from Colagreco’s own garden, transforming them only enough to build unique yet sophisticated flavors. Using permaculture, he grows a bevy of produce sans chemicals in a small plot of land. In fact, the garden inspires much of the dining experience, as no two nights feature the same dishes.
The dining experience exudes glamour. The minimal dining room is clean and modern, and the servers are outfitted in custom sportswear suits. The atmosphere is dominated by the Mediterranean Sea, which is just outside. There is never a menu. Aside from dietary restrictions, Colagreco does not alter his dishes in any specific way. Each night is a new adventure.
The Restaurant: Eleven Madison Park
This is the restaurant with a waitlist of 15,000, so that alone makes it one of the hardest restaurant reservations in the world to get. Seriously, and it’s for vegan food. However the way to get around this is to throw a private event. But be ready to drop a lot of coin. And if you ask nicely, they will bring out the lobster and classic meat dishes for your private dinner.
Once known for his impeccable foie gras and lavender duck, Chef Daniel Humm has since turned the tables. The new Eleven Madison Park introduces a fine dining menu with no meat. Don’t worry, the pristine linens, impeccable service and prix fixe menu have remained. And so has the hefty price tag. Some say the vegan dishes don’t live up to the iconic meat-centric favorites. But if you enter expecting something completely different, you won’t be disappointed. You may even want to seek out more vegan food once you’ve experienced it at Eleven Madison.
The Restaurant: Noma Copenhagen
This is one of the hardest restaurant reservations in the world because this is the best restaurant in the world, according to many lists. Noma is considered one of the most influential restaurants today.
The institution in Copenhagen has a notoriously long course menu. Most recently, the degustation included 16 courses and was justly titled “Autumn Universe.” Head Chef René Redzepi does what others never could, serving such eccentric dishes as raw sumac, pickled pine and reindeer brain. With guests traveling solely to eat here, the restaurant operates in its own realm. Diners are thrust into a new Nordic world that throws all the rules out the window. This is one of those restaurants you don’t wonder why it has three Michelin stars.
The Restaurant: La Petite Rose des Sables
One of the top concierges in Paris has been trying to get a reservation here for 10 years, and this isn’t even a fancy restaurant like Septime or Arpège. Instead, it’s your classic French bistro. The food, though, is apparently next-level French bistro, if you get to try it. The famous couple that owns the hole in the wall aren’t very responsive via phone. And they certainly do not entertain annoyed guests attempting to get on the coveted reservation list last minute. But if you happen to speak fluent French and call on a good day or happen to stop by before 8 p.m., you may very well be treated like royalty.
The husband-and-wife duo know how to serve lunch and dinner. You will find traditional cuisine so French it hurts. Before you even sit down, you’ll be greeted with steaming tapas from the back. After you finish the mounds of bread, cheese and nuts, you’ll be served your choice of French classics, from roasted chicken and potatoes to beef bourguignon. Unlike the other restaurants on this list, you’ll be served hearty, comforting favorites in portions too big to fit on the table. Sometimes it can be really nice to let all the fancy stuff go. But don’t be stingy with fanciness during your stay in Paris. We have some recommendations for you.
The Restaurant: Jiro Sushi
The combination of just 10 seats and a Netflix documentary makes this a near-impossible reservation. Check all your dietary restrictions at the door; they don’t care. You are lucky to have one of the most coveted seats in the world, so eat whatever they put in front of you. It’s a you-get-what-you-get and you-don’t-get-upset situation, kind of like what you learned in kindergarten.
In 2019, Michelin stripped Jiro Sushi of their 3 Michelin stars, because they were too “exclusive”. Quite frankly, we bet losing the Michelin stars, which doesn’t matter to people who like to eat, is like University of Chicago not being part of the Ivy Leagues. They have more Nobel Prize winners who come out of University of Chicago than any country in the world. So it kind of puts them in a tier of their own. Just like Jiro Sushi. It makes the cult list because you need a connection to get in, so it’s essentially not open to common folk. Which means you want to eat there, even more.
For all the hype, strict rules and lackluster decor, the 20-piece tasting menu is wonderful. Jiro has spent a lifetime perfecting his sushi, and the precision is easily detectable, even to a sushi newbie. We recommend having some experience with Japanese dining, however, in order to truly appreciate the whole experience. That, and the fact that you get 20 minutes to eat before the next guests swoop in to take your spots. You have to be on it with your chopsticks. But despite the somewhat unfriendly atmosphere, Jiro Sushi has seen the likes of Obama, Chefs René Redzepi and Massimo Bottura, and a whole host of other celebrities. You just can’t beat perfect sushi.
The Restaurant: El Celler de Can Roca
Sleek. Modern. Elegant. The way fine dining should be. This airy restaurant in Spain is a serious spot for the culinarily passionate who lust after the perfect bite. The superb cuisine is the star of an impeccable show. You know by the light-footed waiters and sweet smelling aroma that everything is on purpose. And yet, despite the calm exterior, the restaurant fields a frenzy of diners looking to make it onto the coveted reservation list. You better be ready to click just as the clock strikes midnight.
Traditional Catalan favorites meet molecular gastronomy at this boundary-pushing restaurant, and every course is its own act. One meal may clock in at around five hours long, as a single course may have an entire secret game associated with it that you must play. If you’re smart enough, you may guess the correct answers and enjoy the clever storylines that bring the whole experience together.