How to Eat Dinner Like a Real New Yorker

According to the New York Post's Dana Schuster, "Waiting up to three hours for a table—then bragging about it on social media—is NYC’s hot new dining trend." Oh, is it?

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According to the New York Post's Dana Schuster, "Waiting up to three hours for a table—then bragging about it on social media—is NYC’s hot new dining trend." Oh, is it? We like to be in on the trends; we like to know things! So, how do you eat like a real New Yorker, partaking of all the latest habits and behaviors and even foibles of one? Here's what we learned from Schuster's handy guide.

Research first, possibly for months, to figure out where you want to go and how. Probably it will be: Pok Pok, Rosemary's, Brooklyn Crab, Mission Chinese Food, or Murray's Cheese Bar. Haven't heard of those places? Return to the non-New York place from whence you came, there's no room for you at those restaurants anyway.

In your research, which you should do mostly on the computer but also in person—stop by and lurk around the restaurant wearing dark glasses and a fedora while shooting with a telephoto lens for a day or two if you want to leave the amateur diners in the dust—you'll run into important information about how you'll have to wait for a table at the place of your choosing. You may, for instance, need to arrive 30 minutes before the place opens, sort of like you would to a Justin Bieber concert before the doors open. But since you don't want to stand around with a bunch of screaming teens, you should send your friend, "Chris," who lives in Lower Manhattan, because he'll do whatever you say and it's not like he has a real job that demands of him the way yours does, so he can get there at the ungodly hour of 5 p.m. or whatever. [Ed: All thoughts about "Chris" are completely fictionalized; we don't even know this Chris person, and would never force him to wait in line for us]. Eventually join him with your boyfriend, a guy you know he is painfully jealous of, but come on, Chris, it's time to move on, it's never going to happen, just as he's texting that you better hurry up or you're never going to get a table:

“As we were walking there, Chris is like, ‘Please get here soon. There are seven people in front of me and 20 behind me!’ By 5:30, there were at least 70 people waiting behind,” says Wu, who lives in Gramercy.

If you don't get in, "in the first wave," go home and cry, make your boyfriend order you a pizza, brush off the pain, eat another slice, and try again. Or stand in line and wait for two hours. The chicken wings are that good, or so they say, but more importantly, you can brag about it later. Yes, this is something, too: the "dining brag," which we imagine in the best cases is a food-oriented version of the underbrag that focuses on how long you waited in line to get into an allegedly hot restaurant and the disappointments that ensued, i.e., "I waited for 17.5 hours to get into Per Se, sleeping in a sleeping bag out on the street when the restaurant closed down for the evening, and by the time I got to the front of the line I realized it wasn't a line at all but just a group of people taking photos of the Time Warner Center! #mortifying." After all, to say that that dining experience was incredible, even if it was, well, that's not an underbrag, it's just sort of sad brag-brag. What's the fun in that?

Back to Schuster. More and more restaurants are so hot, so cool, so without reservations, "where the buzz is so great or the food (and patrons) so delicious, that New Yorkers will wait as long as three or four hours for a dining bragging badge." According to Pok Pok Ny's director of operations Matthew Adams, “I think there probably is an achievement to making it through the wait and joining us for a meal." It's the new hunting and gathering. We're practically all cavemen here. We must work for our food, and standing in line, that's work, right? In the modernest of senses.

A few more tips about dining like a you-know-what: If you're too hungry to wait, go next door and drink. Three hours later, you'll have forgotten you were even waiting for dinner! Don't forget to tell everyone what you did via social media afterward: “'I posted on my Facebook that it was a success and that we were finally able to eat there!' says one lucky diner who lived to tell her harrowing dining tale. Never go into an empty restaurant, only go to one with a wait. Be young, so you have the strength to carry on despite lengthy waiting times, or the innocence not to care that you're waiting in line for hours for an overhyped establishment when there are six or seven just down the block that could take you right now. Or, be pregnant: "'There have been a few people using their pregnancy as a reason to get a table faster. It sort of worked,' Pok Pok’s director of operations Adams admits, 'but in [nearby] Carroll Gardens, you’ll find that a lot of people are having children, so we are tip-toeing on thin ice with that one.'”

Got it? Go forth and propagate and get in line.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.