Hungry yet? 10 restaurants with long waitlists
For fans of queuing (and great food), here are 10 restaurants that are sold out for months. Book now, for your next life
Masalawala & Sons, US: How the tables have turned! Indian food was deemed too hot for the American palate even a decade ago. Now, this 36-seater space in Brooklyn is the hottest reservation in the city. Seating opens a month in advance and books out in minutes. Diners have waited six months to order daab chingri (prawn in tender coconut) and kosha mangsho (a dry curry of lamb or mutton). Roni Mazumdar’s menu honours his father’s memories of Kolkata. But at $23 for fish roe, Kolkata mothers are politely horrified.
Damon Baehrel’s, US: Just give up. The New York restaurant is booked until 2025. Even then, there’s a waitlist. Baehrel, 61, claims that he couldn’t serve them all even if he were to live to 100. The plant-preservation expert cooks with ingredients from his 12-acre farm. Everything is made from scratch, even the flour, the sap-derived sweeteners and the cheese. No phones are allowed at the table, so you can’t even show off.
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo: Even before Jiro Dreams Of Sushi streamed on Neflix, the 10-seater restaurant was among the most sought-after dining spots in the world. Sushi master Jiro, now 97, does everything himself, from prep to presentation. Online and phone bookings don’t work. Neither does tipping your hotel’s concierge. This extreme exclusivity is why the place lost one of its three Michelin stars in 2020.
De Librije, the Netherlands: Housed in a former prison in Zwolle, it opens for reservations only a week in advance, so seating is all about luck. Chefs Jonnie and Thérèse Boer oversee a bustling team of 50. Boer has been serving a regional, seasonal menu since the 80s, long before it was cool. Expect to pay $200 for dishes that use fermentation and hot stone cooking. If you get in, that is.
The Lost Kitchen, US: Maine isn’t a culinary hotspot. But chef Erin French’s restaurant has a cult following. You can only book reservations through postcards – she gets 20,000 a year. Why? She shuns avant-garde techniques and uses as few ingredients as possible. The menu works with what’s available and is executed by an all-woman staff. If your postcard wins the lottery, expect to pay 195$ for a six-course dinner.
El Celler de Can Roca, Spain: Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi opened this restaurant in the working class neighbourhood of Girona in the 1980s. Their creative spin on traditional Catalan cuisine has put it on the global food map. Seats get booked a year in advance and there’s a waitlist. Diners get a $200+ set menu depending on the kind of experience they choose.
Mesa 1, Mexico: This dining experience, at the W Punta de Mita Hotel, on an artificial island in Nayarit, serves only one table for every meal. Only hotel guests are served so you must book a room to eat. Bookings aren’t advertised. Go online and you find nothing. Meals include views of the island, and a choice of three menus: air (fowl), water (fish) and land (meat). You can customise. After all, you’re the only one there.
Inis Meáin, Ireland: The restaurant in the beautiful Aran island region is elegant, remote and at only 16 seats, tiny. The huge windows offer spectacular views. The kitchen, helmed by Ruairí de Blacam, a native of the island, sends out modern cuisine using locally sourced meat, fish and vegetables. Don’t get too excited. They’re booked all through 2023 and reservations haven’t opened for 2024.
Mirazur, France: Mirazur, in the seaside town of Menton, consistently makes it to the top of global best-restaurant lists. Chef Mauro Colagreco does not offer a fixed menu. Diners eat what’s in season and was freshly sourced that day. Reviews stress that you go there with an open mind. You may experience crabmeat with almond foam and meat cooked so rare that it’s still blood-red. Bookings are famously closed no matter when you try. Waitlists easily go on for a year.
Maaemo, Norway: The next free seat can be anything from four to five months away. It’s enough time to work up an appetite for a playful tasting menu of over 20 courses, that might include Norwegian langoustines with pine; mackerel with ramson; and Røros butter ice cream with brown butter caramel. All produce is either biodynamic, organic or wild. Owner and chef Esben Holmboe Bangtry also tries to be as close to zero waste as possible.
From HT Brunch, March 11, 2023
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