About that Fabled New York Restaurant that Has a 42-Year Waiting List

A year is a long time to wait for a table in New York’s most hallowed temples of gastronomy. Even Eleven Madison Park, considered the world’s best restaurant and where dinner will set you back $315 a person excluding wine, only expects customer to wait half a year for a reservation.

So when a local New York station reported recently that Rao’s, the vaunted century-and-a-quarter-old Harlem restaurant, was asking customers to book 42 years ahead of when they planned to dine, something seemed amiss. Indeed, something was.

What the reporter should have said was that Rao’s has been booked solid for the last 42 years — not the next 42. Not that your chances of winning a seat in the future are any better. A three-star review from The New York Times in 1977 led to such an overwhelming demand for one of the establishment’s ten tables that the owner decided to transform it effectively into a private club. Now the restaurant is open to regulars only.

Every now and then, an article appears by some enterprising foodie who managed (or claims to have managed) to score a table. You’re free to take these on faith at your own peril.

Your chances are much better — excellent, in fact — at the branch of Rao’s that has opened up at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where all you need is cash or a credit card.