Planning a food-centric trip? Try these hard-to-score restaurant reservations across the US

If you’re planning a food-centric vacation, chances are that where you’re dining is as or more important than where you’re staying and how you’re getting there. Plan to book these hard-to-nab restaurant reservations far, far in advance – and be prepared to shell out as much for the meal as you might pay for a night in a four-star hotel. Of course, the food-gasms should be worth the price.

There are hard-to-score reservations and there are restaurants so in-demand that they actually take memberships. This legendary New York Italian joint offers yearly buy-ins for qualified regulars. If you’re looking for an easier way in, try the Vegas outpost.

The Waverly Inn
Chances are, if you’re not a personal friend of Graydon Carter, you’re not getting in. The Vanity Fair editor’s restaurant is a hotspot any night of the week, drawing crowds of well-heeled socialites, media types and Wall Street-ers alike. Suggested tactic? Befriend, befriend, befriend … or go early and hope for a seat at the bar.

Talula’s Table
There’s one table per night at this Kennett Square restaurant, and one seating. Reservations for this tasting menu open a year in advance, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. You make the reservation and are responsible for filling the table. Your best chance? Wait a year OR hope for a cancellation, posted on their website.

French Laundry
Thomas Keller’s famed Napa area restaurant has long been a food lover’s must-visit. If you’re dying to get into this notoriously hard-to-reserve restaurant, try several months in advance. Hotel partnerships, high-level Amex cards and friends in the media are known to be easier ways in. Stay luxe, and ask the concierge for help.

[Image of The French Laundry via flickr user pvsbond]
Osteria Mozza
It may be a simple Italian joint, but it’s hot hot hot. This Mario Batali eatery draws celebrity and political power hitters alike. To get in, reserve early – or know someone.

This tiny six-seat eatery by Jose Andres has long been a DC hotspot. Two seatings Tuesday through Saturday and the small size make a table here hard enough to get. Reservations are released a month in advance, so try promptly one month out.

This three-star Chicago restaurant is famous for its deconstructed takes on classics. Try early and often – it’s nearly always booked.