10 Most Exclusive Restaurants In NYC

Anyone would agree that a perfect dining experience is made up of a few things: great food, great conversation, and great company. When stepping out into the city, we can't forget another element: the atmosphere. From unique reimagined interiors to untouched historical landmarks, there are so many special corners of the city that few have the opportunity to discover. Truly enjoying an evening out involves some capital, especially in New York City, but sometimes you need more than money to get you a seat at the hottest table.

There's no question that the world is deeply fascinated with how the "other half" lives, especially in a glitzy city like NYC. When we walk past a long line, curving around the block, we're more likely to jump in line than just strut past, even before knowing what we're waiting for. For the wealthy, luxury comes easy. With the right wad of cash and connections, the world can be at your fingertips, but what fun is that? Cue exclusive restaurants, lounges, and members-only dining clubs. Some coveted locations in the city have fees that are out of reach for most, while other establishments don't care how much money is thrown at them; it's all about who you know. Regardless of how we get in the door, if at all, one can dream.



(212) 722-6709

455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029

Naturally, most of the exclusive spots on this list are driven by affluence, but Rao's has been family first since 1896. The unexpecting establishment specializes in Southern Neapolitan cuisine, mastered by the original owners, Vincent Rao and Anne Pellegrino. The name may ring a bell from Rao's homemade sauces and soups lining market shelves, but long before they were a Campbell's brand, Rao's had a renowned reputation. Now run by Frank Pellegrino Jr., Rao's still does simple Italian cuisine without sacrificing any flavor. As the Rao family boasts, "The most important ingredients in your dining experience: food, friends, and family."

Word spread and it wasn't long before New York icons were filling the pleather booths. Stars such as Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, and Danny Aiello frequented the Harlem establishment, and within a matter of time dining at Rao's became a privilege. Rolling up to Rao's is now a status symbol, as it's quite literally impossible to score a reservation.

Some time into the late '70s, Rao's decided to cut their books off and designate certain tables to VIPs. Now, the only lucky diners are guests of those who have "table rights" for life. The term "for life" is typically used loosely, but not in this case. Rao's assigned tables have been in place for decades and when any "owners" pass away, the table is passed along to their next of kin.



57 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

If you want a seat at Bohemian, you must be in the know. They have a not-so-secret phone number, but with a proper referral, you're in good shape. Bohemian's rugged exterior is the perfect illustration of New York's unpredictable hierarchy. No one would guess that behind the explosion of graffiti is some of New York's best Japanese food. Speakeasies are a blast for many reasons, but dinner isn't typically the main attraction. When it comes to Bohemian, food takes precedence.

Speakeasies are all about secret doors and hidden clues to finagle your way inside, which can make it difficult to continue to impress guests after the thrill of the hunt is gone, but Bohemian hardly has to try. Aside from the fact that the restaurant is in Basquat's former studio space in NoHo, tucked behind a butcher shop no less, its food will wow you. The eclectic menu focuses on Japanese fare with French and American influence, which is clear in the chef's take on fondue and panna cotta. Compared to the other exclusive members-only clubs, Bohemian is a tad more attainable. There's no high ticket membership price to cozy up in Bohemian, but it's pretty much as elite as it gets. In order to get in the door (that is, if you can find it), you need an invitation or a referral from someone who has been.

432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

(212) 223-5412

432 Park Ave, New York, NY 10022

There are amenities, and then there are Billionaire's Row amenities. Think private spas and fitness centers, lush gardens woven through the courtyard, lavish terraces, and exclusive resident-only restaurants. As the Western Hemisphere's tallest residential building, 432 Park Avenue is no exception to the affluent block. The towering building sits 96 stories into New York City's skyline, and its elite restaurant occupies the entire 12th floor.

Between the mouthwatering food and the surreal view, dining at 432 Park Ave can feel like floating. Not only do residents get to gaze down at Central Park's beauty, but they also get to delight in the culinary revelations of Michelin star chef Shaun Hergatt. The Australian chef has built a name for himself over the years, most recently heading Hotel Chandler's now-closed restaurant, Juni. The award-winning chef creates art on a plate. Like all fine dining, his menu will always align with the season's freshest ingredients, but when seated in his dining room, one can expect indulgence. Recent menus include grilled wagyu strip loin, New Zealand langoustines, marinated duck breast, homemade mushroom ravioli, and shaved black truffle atop anything desired. Guests at 432 Park Ave shouldn't expect to rub elbows with anyone less than famous unless they're an incredibly lucky guest, as residents must spend $15k a year to enjoy the world-class restaurant. That likely doesn't cause anyone to blink an eye, considering condos start at five million and change.

Central Park Club: 10 Cubed

10 Cubed

217 W 57th St 100th Floor, New York, NY 10019

New York has its fair share of private clubs, but Central Park Club can confidently state it is the highest one. On the 100th floor of Central Park Tower, another Billionaires' row high-rise, sits Central Park Club's private dining space, 10 Cubed. Guests can never expect the same experience twice, as the restaurant's kitchen features a rotation of three Michelin-starred chefs who each create their own unique menus based on the season.

If the cascading 360-degree views somehow get old, the lounge space is complete with a wine cellar and cigar humidor to explore. The dining experience at 10 Cubed is so much more than just a meal. They have every intention of giving guests their money's worth, with changing lights that match the changing sun, seasonal aromas, and even customized music to reflect the time of day. As Lifestyle Curator Colin Cowie puts it, they're all about "creating experiences that deliver Life At The Top." That life doesn't come cheap, of course, as seats at 10 Cubed are reserved for residents of Central Park Tower. As if everchanging menus from Alfred Portale, Laurent Tourndel, and Gabriel Kreuther weren't enough to dream of a penthouse at Central Park Tower, residents also have access to a 60-foot outdoor pool decked out with cabanas, private gardens, a billiards room, movie theater, a fitness center complete with an even larger saltwater pool, saunas, and dozens more.

220 Central Park South

220 Central Park South

(212) 202-5652

220 Central Park South New York, NY 10019

Billionaires' Row speaks for itself: A stretch of luxury city condos with price tags that would make the average Joe spit out their coffee. Among the many exuberantly priced buildings is the crown jewel — 220 Central Park South — home to the country's most expensive residences. Billionaires' Row is "New York City's Monopoly board for uber-wealthy international and domestic titans of industry," as Compass real estate agent Alexander Glibbery so aptly describes. With condos up to $238 million, luxury amenities are expected, and a private restaurant tops the list.

Even with the city at their fingertips, residents only need to hit an elevator button to be transported to one of the city's most exquisite and exclusive dining experiences. The unmatched view may be what intrigues guests initially, but it's Jean-Georges' cuisine that captivates them. Jean-Georges Vongerichten holds two Michelin stars and has created a restaurant empire with thriving eateries all over the world. He established comfy roots in NYC, earning recognition for his high-end French cuisine, and remains one of the city's most respected chefs. Paying a member fee is one thing, but if one wants to experience Jean-Georges' culinary creations, they'll have to drop quite the down payment. In a city of over 8 million people, residents can expect to see the same faces while sipping their Dom Pérignon, a luxury very few can afford. The same faces in a city aren't very appealing to some, but for those dodging paparazzi and devoted fans, it's a priceless piece of mind.

Tiro A Segno

Tiro A Segno

(212) 254-2500

77 MacDougal Street, New York, NY 10012

The Italian American energy is alive and well in New York City, and we're not talking about Little Italy. This modest social club may be the last sliver of real Italian New York that's been untouched by modernity. Just past the lively comedy clubs and bistros of MacDougal St, you'll find Tiro A Segno hidden within Greenwich Village brownstones. If it wasn't for the waving Italian flags, most wouldn't assume much, and that's just the way they like it. Tiro's allusiveness is part of what makes it one of the most intriguing clubs in NYC, with minimal public information available other than directions. Italians lucky enough to be locked into a membership can teleport back to their childhood with seemingly endless pasta and Italian cookies.

New York's Tiro A Segno is not only the city's oldest Italian heritage organization but the oldest in the entire country. It has been the stomping ground for Italian gatherings ever since it was founded in 1888. When we say gatherings, we don't just mean exquisite Italian fare. In addition to carb-loading, members of Tiro convene to celebrate their heritage with wine tastings, stogies, fashion shows, and even shooting targets in their on-site rifle range.

The Century Club

The Century Club

(212) 944-0090

7 West 43d Street, New York, NY 10036

The Century Club is one where the purpose of being there can outweigh the finer details. An established private club for the most elite of New York creatives is unlike the more modern creative groups – it's old school. As the association boldly states, "The Century is a quintessentially New York place." The towering wooden doors and sparkling chandeliers should tell you enough, but the allure only continues as you wade through the historical space.

The Century Association was a reimagination of NYC poet William Cullen Bryant's well-known Sketch Club, which was founded in 1829. The club's constitution reads, "It shall be composed of authors, artists and amateurs of Letters and Fine Arts, residents Of City of New York and its vicinity: its objects the cultivation of a taster for Letters and the Arts and Social enjoyment." Decades later, Century Club planted roots in Midtown, where it stands today. The criteria never wavered, with over 2,000 members today, including creatives, political figures, and thought leaders. The Century Club remains incredibly private, even barring any photographs in the Renaissance-inspired clubhouse outside of private events. What was once a hot spot for meeting the creatives of New York, like writers, musicians, and painters, is now an elite hub for elegant influentials.

Chapel Bar and Verōnika

Chapel Bar

(646) 790-1590

275 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010

Chapel Bar has one of the more modest annual membership fees at $2,500, but that doesn't mean it's any less exclusive. While a hostess will pleasantly greet anyone at the red chapel doors, you'll quickly be shuffled away if you're not a member. The bar is part of the adjacent Fotografiska Museum, hence the coolness. Behind the monumental wooden doors, velvet curtains allude to a seductive, intimate atmosphere, and it delivers. The large dining room is a reimagined church, dimly lit and fit with a DJ booth and an elegant horseshoe-shaped bar. The fun at Chapel Bar goes well into the evening or early morning, with live performances and drinks on tap. While the bar's focus is drinks and dancing, as a member, you can make reservations at the restaurant one door over when hunger calls.

On the second floor of the Fotografiska museum is the equally as stylish but a tad less exclusive Verōnika, which is their more intimate European restaurant and bar. Unlike Chapel Bar, Verōnika is open to non-members but only on a walk-in basis. The restaurant is warm and often buzzing with music, creating a relaxed but lively ambiance.

Core Club

Core Club

(212) 486-6600

711 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

Core Club is reserved for the 1%, regardless of what city they happen to be in. The exclusive club has locations in Milano and San Francisco, but New York is its newest addition, and it makes SoHo House look like a dive bar. A membership to the social club could run you up to $15,000 or even $100,000 for the whole family, but not without amenities. The 11-story building features spas, salons, fitness centers, high-end groceries, top-of-the-line skincare services, and, of course, an upscale lounge and restaurant.

Dining at CORE: New York offers a unique experience each time, with a changing roster of celebrity chefs in the kitchen. Lounging high up on the 17th floor delivers city views that few can experience paired with fine wine and small plates. Chef Michele Brogioni is said to be spearheading the prix fixe restaurant. All of the CORE clubs pride themselves on building a trusted network, which is evident from their mysterious website. CEO Jennie Enterprise praises the Core community as "relentlessly curious individuals who are energized by cultural exploration."

Doubles Club

Doubles Club

(212) 751-9595

783 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10022

For those who fawned over the allusive, glamorous New York on the big screen when they were younger, Doubles Club encapsulates it all. Ever since the '70s, Doubles Club has been a frequent weekend hang for A-listers, think old money heirs and big names. These elite guests could strut into any door they desired, but regardless, they would always choose Doubles Club. Anything seems possible after following the vibrant red stairs down into the dining room.

The club is hidden in the basement of the stunning Sherry-Netherland Hotel, which Nancy Homes claimed as "the most gorgeous hotel in New York...always filled to overflowing with beautiful people." Sticking with the glamorous, opulent attitude, the club doesn't openly discuss prices, but as of 2015, it could apparently cost up to $8,250 for an annual membership. The dazzling space is often reserved for private events like disco dancing and holiday luncheons and has become a very hot spot for tweens of the rich to hide out.