The world's best food doesn't come cheap or easy. Anyone can walk into a McDonald's, but reserving a seat at a Michelin-starred restaurant could drop you in a year-long waiting list. These eateries are either high-demand, shockingly expensive, or physically hard to reach.
From Mexico to Denmark to the mountains of China, the world offers plenty of exclusive eateries. Catch a glimpse inside the most exclusive restaurants in the world, and learn how you can score a reservation.
Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
In Copenhagen, Denmark, the restaurant Noma is one of the most sought-out dining experiences in the world. It was ranked "Best Restaurant in the World" in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, for its re-imagining of Nordic cuisine. If you want to get in, you'll have to compete with 20,000 other customers, the restaurant says.
Noma opens its reservations on the sixth of every month. During that time, the website shuts down from high demand, and some people wait for hours on the phone to get a reservation. Then, they have to put down a deposit of 25,000 DKK for booking.
Ultraviolet By Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
Only ten people can eat each night at Ultraviolet in Shanghai, China. The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, offers 20 courses for at least $600 per person. As expected, it is notoriously difficult to snag a reservation at Ultraviolet, which was created by the French chef Paul Pairet.
Along with unique food, Ultraviolet provides a combination of lights, sounds, scents, and projections for a multi-faceted experience. Customers can only book online, with reservations open 90 days in advance (not three months, but exactly 90 days, the owner emphasizes).
Mesa 1, Punta De Mita, Mexico
Forbes calls Mesa 1, a Mexican restaurant at the West Punta de Mita Hotel, the most exclusive in the world. Every day, the restaurant only allows one table that sits up to 15 guests. The chefs and servers present a seven-course meal over two hours for the lucky customers who manage to score a seat.
According to Esquire, you can book a seat at Mesa 1 by email. But don't expect to get a table within the next week. Mesa 1 offers three menus to choose from, and if you get in, you'll have an entire restaurant to yourself.
Huashan Teahouse, Mount Hua, China
If you want to eat at Huashan Teahouse, you'll have to climb up one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world. The teahouse rests on Mount Hua, the southern part of a Buddhist and Taoist temple. For this reason, some people have called the Huashan Teahouse the "most dangerous tea in the world."
To reach the tea house, visitors have to ascend the "Heavenly Stairs," a steep trail that hikers can tumble down if they're not careful. Because of the increasing amount of tourism, the Chinese government has worked to make the route easier.
Sublimotion, Ibiza, Spain
Sublimotion is one of the most expensive dining experiences in the world. A 15-course meal costs around $2,173 per person. The food is accompanied by laser light showers, virtual reality games, and projective mapping to create an engaging experience.
Customers sit in a space capsule-like room with walls that can transform into anything, from the ocean to a sci-fi setting. Film directors and DJs help to establish the atmosphere. Sublimotion is part of the Hard Rock Hotel, and guests may have an easier time booking through the concierge.
Alinea, Chicago, USA
In 2017, Business Insider labeled Alinea as the top restaurant in the US. As one of 14 restaurants with three Michelin stars, Alinea easily earned the spot with its avant-garde dishes, including edible sugar balloons. At around $385 per person, the restaurant supplies a dining experience unlike any other.
To book a table, you'll have to go online between Wednesday and Sunday, from 5 pm to 9:30 pm (American Central Time). Customers can make a reservation for up to two months in advance if they're lucky. Only groups up to six people will be accommodated.
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo, Japan
Master sushi chef Jiro Ono was the subject of a documentary in 2011, making him an international name. His restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, is the first sushi spot to win three Michelin stars. In November 2019, the Tokyo Michelin guide stopped recommending the restaurant because it's nearly impossible for regular tourists to get in.
Sukiyabashi Jiro only has ten seats, and most are reserved for friends and family of the owners. Foreigners have a particularly hard time getting in. To do so, stay at a hotel with a concierge service and ask them to make a reservation.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the Maldives
Off the coast of Conrad Rangali Island, 16 feet underwater, rests the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. Customers taste Maldivian and international cuisine with a 270-degree panoramic view of fish and sharks. Cost-wise, the price starts at $120, far cheaper than one would expect.
Along with being a fascinating dining experience, Ithaa is also the world's largest aquarium tunnel. Despite being popular, Ithaa only seats 14 people at a time, and foodies have to reserve a spot months in advance. But those who do receive great food, beautiful photos, and even an undersea pool.
Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
If you want to eat at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, one of Paris' most expensive restaurants, you'll have to make a reservation far in advance. The Michelin restaurant connects to the Hotel Plaza Athénée, and it combines seafood and vegetables into healthy, luxurious cuisine.
Guests sit under a chandelier with 10,000 crystal pendants, and they spend an average of $550 per person. During the busy tourist season, the restaurant may be sold out months in advance. But if you play your cards right, you can score a seat within a month.
El Celler De Can Roca, Girona, Spain
Since 1986, the three-Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca has dazzled customers. The waiting list is so long that three employees were hired just to manage it. In 2013, 2015, and 2018, El Celler de Can Roca was labeled the world's best eatery by the magazine Restaurant.
El Celler de Can Roca is famous for its creative presentations, such as caramelized onions nestled into a bonsai tree. If you want to get in, pray for luck--over 10,000 international visitors flew to the restaurant in 2013 alone.
The Fat Duck, Bray, England
The Fat Duck, an experimental French restaurant in Bray, England, is one of the most popular eateries in the UK. Customers pay £255 for a four-hour meal with several courses. The rest of the experience remains mysterious since the restaurant changes its meals consistently.
As a three-Michelin star restaurant with several awards, the Fat Duck is heavily sought after. Employees open reservations two to three months in advance, and some foreign tourists may get priority if you may email them. Opt for a date in the middle of the week since the Fat Duck won't be as busy then.
Solo Per Due, Vacone, Italy
In Italian, Solo per Due means "just for two." As the self-proclaimed "smallest restaurant in the world," Solo per Due only seats two people at a time, and guests are surrounded by flowers, sculptures, and music. It's the ultimate date night.
Customers pay only €250 (in cash) for their private dinner. They can also pay extra for a ride to Solo per Due, and a special announcement for engagements. As you may have guessed, reserving a seat can be challenging. Emailing the restaurant is your best bet.
Tickets, Barcelona, Spain
Tickets is a classy, edgy Michelin star restaurant on Barcelona's El Raval barrio. Although Tickets allows reservations up to 60 days in advance, scoring a seat is no easy task. You'll have to book the second the clock strikes midnight in Spain, or else you'll be too late.
Tickets' owner is Albert Adrià Acosta, the brother of the famous chef Ferran Adrià. Unlike other highly sought-after restaurants, Tickets offers affordable cuisine that won't break the bank. It could be well worth it to score a table there.
Disney's Club 33, California, USA
Club 33 is a private club in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Only members can enter, and they have to pay a fee of $25,000 to join, plus up to $30,000 in annual dues. In 2012, Club 33 had a 14-year-long waiting list for new members, according to Insider.
And that's just the membership. Afterward, people reserve their seats at the five-star restaurant months in advance, and a burger can cost $75. The character actors in Club 33 go through three months of specialized training to make the experience unique.
Sushi Dai, Tokyo, Japan
Many Tokyo guide books recommend Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Fish Market as a perfect spot for breakfast sushi. But not all of them bring up the wait. The tiny, unassuming restaurant is the most popular food stop in Japan. Since Sushi Dai does not take reservations, guests have to wait three to four hours for a seat on average.
Guests spend around JPY 10,000 to 15,000 there, which roughly equals $100 to $150. Because the wait is so long, many travelers recommend booking a hotel near Sushi Dai. They all say it's worth the wait, though.
Restaurant Guy Savoy, Paris, France
Throughout its 30 years of service, Restaurant Guy Savoy has received three Michelin stars and countless glowing reviews. It was named after Head Chef Guy Savoy, who trained Gordon Ramsay and owns three other restaurants in Paris. Needless to say, the cuisine is impressive.
Foodies who want to sample Guy Savoy's 13 courses should book a reservation months in advance. Expect to spend around €1,000 for the full experience, if you want to enjoy drinks. Remember, this restaurant is not the same as Guy Savoy in Las Vegas, although that menu tastes great too!
Inis Meáin, Ireland
On the Aran Islands, the Irish restaurant Inis Meáin is as fresh as food comes. The staff grow local produce and catch fish straight from the sea. The restaurant is part of the luxurious Inis Meáin Suites that cost €500 a night and to get there, you'd have to travel by ferry or plane.
By April 2017, the entire resort was booked until 2018. If you want to enjoy a four-course meal at Inis Meáin, you'll have to know someone or get lucky. It's the most sought-after cuisine in Ireland.
Damon Baehrel, New York City, USA
The New Yorker calls Damon Baehrel "the most exclusive restaurant in America." Named after its owner, Damon Baehrel cooks with handmade ingredients from a local 12-acre farm. Customers can expect a five-hour stay to receive 15 to 20 courses if they can land one of the restaurant's 20 seats.
Damon Baehrel is so flooded with reservations that the openings close for specific periods. Every year, the waiting list grows, and customers may have to wait for months or even a year to receive a confirmation reply.
Darjeeling Express, London, England
In the heart of Soho, London, you'll find the master chefs of Indian cuisine in Darjeeling Express. What started as a supper club turned into a famous restaurant with a waitlist that stretches months in advance. One of the chefs, Asma Khan, told her story on Chef's Table, which made Darjeeling Express even more famous.
The restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere designed to feel like you're dining at a friend's house. For £45, you can experience a three-course meal of delicious Indian food, if you're willing to wait for a reservation.
Kitcho, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama (often called Kitcho) is one of the world's most expensive restaurants. The three-star-Michelin restaurant offers the best of Japanese cuisine, and a meal for two will cost ¥122,503. Customers receive a private room that's large enough to be an apartment.
Although it's pricey, the 20 courses at Kitcho will create a memorable experience. Customers don't even receive a menu; they are surprised by what comes out. You can reserve a seat at Kitcho through email, but brace yourself for its waiting list.
Brae, Victoria, Australia
Brae is an exceptional dining experience in Victoria, Australia. The restaurant runs a kitchen garden, and its selection changes depending on the season. Customers who dine there usually spend several hours to enjoy the food and atmosphere.
Brae's owner, Dan Hunter, aimed to create a self-sustaining restaurant. Although you can score a reservation up to six months in advance, most seats are reserved for customers who stay in the adjoining hotel. Expect a wait of at least two months to get into Brae.
The Clove Club, London, England
Started by three famous chefs--Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis, and Johnny Smith--the Clove Club has risen to one of the most popular restaurants in London. Its "modern British" menu offers seven courses for around £65 per person. No wonder it's so tough to get into!
To get a reservation, most people wait at least a couple of months. The eatery only seats 40 people, which seems minuscule compared to the number of foodies who want to dine there. For the money, it's quite a good deal!
Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
If you love French and Italian cuisine, then the food at Osteria Francescana is meant for you. Customers wait months for a reservation, and then they take a three-hour train ride from Rome to the restaurant. In 2018, it was voted tops in The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Osteria Francescana offers an a la carte menu for over $300. Their reservations open at 10 am (Italian time) on the first of every month. Expect to wait a couple of months for the next available table.
é By José Andres, Las Vegas, Nevada
é By José Andres is the most expensive dinner in Las Vegas, costing at least $300 per person. Guests attend one of two sittings, at a table for eight. That's a max of 16 people who can eat the Spanish avant-garde dishes every day.
The restaurant is tucked inside Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan Hotel. Customers sit at the chef's table and often share parties, soaking in the strange and unusual decor. Get this intimate experience by booking over email. You can land a reservation around three months in advance.
Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain
Food lovers who visit Barcelona, Spain, won't hesitate to try Disfrutar. The two-Michelin-star restaurant offers the epitome of experimental food, including liquid salad and crunchy egg yolk. Despite its informal atmosphere, some customers can't score a seat, even when reservations open 180 days in advance.
Disfrutar, which means "enjoy" in Spanish, provides up to 32 courses. Don't expect to book a seat online; instead, call the restaurant around 10 am local time. Since you'll need a credit card to secure a reservation, keep one on hand.
Mirazur, Menton, France
The 2019 Restaurant's best eatery in the world was along the French Riviera in Menton. Mirazur has three Michelin stars, and perceptive visitors may spot chickens and beehives that supply the kitchen. If you're willing to spend around $295, you'll enjoy a French and Argentinian-inspired dish there.
Mirazur is so popular that if you were to go on their website in June, you might not be able to book a table until October. Customers who score a seat can enjoy a stunning view of the water and a menu that will never appear in the restaurant again.
Franklin BBQ, Texas, USA
In 2011, Bon Appétit declared Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas, the best restaurant in America. Since then, three hundred people stand in line on weekends--before the restaurant even opens! According to the owner, Aaron Franklin, they usually run out of food by 2 pm, even though they open at 11 am.
Unlike other high-demand restaurants, Franklin BBQ offers walk-in service only. If you go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, you'll have a shorter wait of only 90 minutes. Customers usually bring coolers and games while waiting outside, and they spend an average of $75 for the world-famous brisket and smoked meats.
Central, Lima, Peru
On the southern edge of Lima, Peru, the restaurant Central has no outdoor sign and no design that marks it as a restaurant. Yet, it hosts some of the world's best food. Central offers a 17-course menu with food gathered from the diverse ecosystems around Peru. Compared to other exclusive restaurants, Central scores a deal at around $130 per person.
Customers register for a seat online months in advance. As a reward, they get artistically-designed food and a menu that's dictated by the Peruvian food's elevation. You'll never see the same dish twice.
Restaurant De l'Hôtel De Ville, Crissier, Switzerland
Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville, led by chef Franck Giovannini, has held three Michelin stars for years. The Swiss cuisine supplies locally-grown vegetables and a variety of 40 cheeses. Plus, the menu changes five times a year, and the 11 courses cost 390 CHF ($392) per person.
Customers dine in one of the five private rooms, each with its own theme. Since Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Vill only allows reservations up to a month in advance, you'll want to tackle it quickly. You won't regret the experience.
UNA, London, England
UNA, a Latin American-inspired restaurant along the river Thames, has only one table. Only 12 guests can enjoy Argentinian and Peruvian meals at a time. Customers don't have to know each other, either; different guests can book at one time and share an imaginative experience.
As with most kitchens that specialize in gastronomy, UNA serves unique dishes that cultivate an environment. Diners don't receive the same course twice. To reserve a seat, email the restaurant, but don't be surprised if they're fully booked for a while.
Benu, San Francisco, California, USA
There are two ways to make reservations at the ultra-pricey American restaurant Benu in San Francisco. One, call between the hours of 10 and four Tuesday through Saturday, or, try your hand on OpenTable. The good news is that reservations are accepted up to two months in advance.
Although they do go fast, if you're lucky enough to snag an open seat, you're not going to be disappointed. But be sure to plan for a three-hour-long stay to enjoy everything Benu has to offer. That includes the three-star restaurant's fixed minimalist-menu of seafood, vegetables, meat, and some sweets to end the meal on a happy note.
Chef's Table At Brooklyn Fare, New York
If you want to enjoy the perspective of the 20 tasting courses that are offered at Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York, you're going to have to be attached to your phone on the first weekday of the month. That is the only time the limited-seating three-star restaurant is willing to take reservations.
This New York eatery fuses together French and Japanese flavors to create a unique dining experience. If you're lucky enough to get through the busy signal on that one day, you're never going to forget Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York.
Komi, Washington D.C., USA
Komi in Washington, D.C., offers a set menu of a dozen or so exquisite Mediterranean dishes. Unfortunately, if you're in the area and want to experience Komi, then you're going to want to make reservations at least a month in advance.
This eatery only allows for reservation requests via phone call, and even so, they book up very quickly. It's said that the best chance a person has to get a seat is to book when some last-minute openings pop up on occasion. Then, you cross your fingers and hope that you can get in to taste the delectable food.
Momofuku Ko, New York City, USA
If you want to frequent New York City's Momofuku Ko, you're going to have to wait in line alongside Momofuku owner David Chang's parents and everyone else, or so legend says. If the owner's parents are waiting in line to get into this Asian-accented American eatery, then there is little hope for the common folk.
This eatery only accepts reservations up to 30 days in advance, and only accepts walk-ins if there is a cancellation. It's well worth it to taste David Chang and Chef Sean Grey's tasting menu in the dining room, though.
N/ Naka, Los Angeles, California, USA
n/naka in Los Angeles, California, is a very difficult restaurant to get into, with guests having to make reservations up to three months in advance for a chance at getting a table. And, like most in-demand eateries, reservations are only made by phone. Get ready to hear the busy signal, because you're going to want to be on the phone on Sunday at 10 a.m. PST.
As n/naka is only open Wednesday through Saturday, new reservation slots open on Sunday mornings. Thankfully, the Japanese restaurant with its delightful tasting menu is very much worth the headache it takes to get a seat.
Per Se, New York City, USA
With a restaurant like Per Se in New York City, you're paying for the food as well as the view that comes with it. This New American restaurant happens to have spectacular views of the famous Central Park, but, unfortunately, it is quite difficult to reserve a seat.
Per Se allows patrons to reserve seating up to three months in advance, either over the phone or via OpenTable, but don't let the dual offering fool you. This eatery is very popular and the three-month time frame is given to potential costumers for a reason!
Schwa, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Schwa in Chicago is the epitome of city dining. The tiny restaurant is only large enough to seat 18 people. They accept reservations over the phone but book months in advance, making it hard for people to get a spot. And, plot twist, Chef Michael Carson has a habit of closing the restaurant at random times.
So, even if you have a reservation, there is no telling if the eatery is even going to be open! Nonetheless, Schwa is considered to be a New American gem in Chicago. That must mean something, considering people keep selling the place out even with the uncertainty of it all!
Talula's Table, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, USA
At Talula's Table at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, there are two tables in the establishment and one of them is reserved year-round for owner Aimee Olexy's friends and family. That means you have to get extremely lucky to find an opening for the one other table.
Thankfully, the table seats ten people. So if you or a friend happens to win the lottery, maybe you'll get a chance to enjoy the BYOB, farm-fresh, multi-course tasting menu of Talula's Table.
Trois Mec, Los Angeles California, USA
Trois Mec is Los Angeles, California, is a tiny hotspot eatery with an open kitchen and an acclaimed tasting menu. This eatery is globally known, so reservations are very difficult to come by. They have a tricky system in place for people to schedule out a time to get a seat.
Reservations "go on sale" every other Friday at exactly 10:00 a.m. PST for a certain number of days in the future. If you're lucky enough to win one of the slots, you won't regret the hassle. Trois Mec is one of the hottest restaurants in town, after all!
Rao's, New York City, USA
Rao's in New York City has been around since 1896. This Italian eatery has high-end clientele, such as Derek Jeter, and doesn't have a menu. This is one of those places where you have to know someone who knows someone to get in. Each of the 12 tables is even "owned" by someone!
The restaurant is virtually impossible to get into, unless you're lucky enough to win an entry ticket at an auction for a few thousand dollars. Even then, your best option is to hop on a plane and go to the Las Vegas or Hollywood locations, as they are a bit easier to get into.