Restaurants With Extremely Long Lines That Are Worth The Wait

In today's modern world, people aren't really accustomed to waiting around for stuff anymore. We can get products shipped overnight with the click of a button. If a website or app takes more than a few seconds to load, we give up. When we're too lazy to cook, Uber Eats brings food to our doorstep.

But there's one thing that will still make people skip delivery and wait in line for — getting a chance to eat at the best restaurants. Whether it's because of the fantastic food, the experience of the restaurant, the bragging rights that come with exclusivity, or simply hopping on a trend, there are several restaurants that will have people waiting hours in line. 

But the truth is, not all popular places are worth the wait. The good news is, we've compiled a list of restaurants from around the country that you'll need to set half your day aside for — but are worth every second. Keep reading to learn more.

Di Fara Pizza (Brooklyn, New York)

The first restaurant on our list is a tiny but legendary pizza joint in New York City that has claimed the title by many as THE best pizza in the city — a truly magnificent honor for any restaurant. Di Fara Pizza served the same pizza since its opening in 1965 by the same man — Domenico De Marco — after emigrating to Brooklyn from Italy, until his passing at the age of 85 in 2022. Demarco still worked at the pizza shop every single day into his 80s and made anywhere from 100 to 150 pizzas a day. 

The family-owned and operated pizza shop still gets most of its ingredients imported from Italy to create the irreplicable taste that has been dubbed the top pizza in New York. Di Fara Pizza has raked in countless awards as the best pizza in New York. Even Anthony Bourdain called Di Fara "the best of the best."

If you ever head over to Avenue J for a slice, you can expect to wait in lines that stretch around the block and last for hours. Inside, there are only around 15 seats, so expect to take your slice on the road. But trust us — this one's worth it.

Eggslut (Los Angeles, California)

For egg lovers that are willing to wait in long lines for the best egg sandwiches and cheeseburgers around, look no further than Eggslut in Downtown Los Angeles. Chef-founder Alvin Cailan (also author and host of First We Feast's "The Burger Show") came up with the idea for the egg-based restaurant while nursing a hangover by cooking delicious food for himself and his friends. He felt his city needed a feel-good breakfast option for those painful Sunday mornings.

The restaurant started out on wheels in an old white foot truck, but the idea took off fast. Within two months, people were already waiting for 45 minutes to snag some of his egg sandwiches. He eventually moved into the legendary Grand Central Market, and the rest is history. Now Eggslut has locations all over the world, including in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Despite the additional locations, you'll still need to line up to snag a hearty bacon, egg, and cheese on a brioche bun after your next big night out on the town. The restaurant also serves cheeseburgers, steak sandwiches, and plenty of other egg-cellent breakfast foods as well.

Franklin Barbecue (Austin, Texas)

Franklin Barbecue might just be the poster child for waiting in lines for top-tier food. A meal from this Austin favorite could have you spending half a day in line, but that's what you get when you want to eat at one of the best barbecue joints in Texas — if not America. You can expect to wait for a couple of hours on weekdays, while people have reported waiting up to four hours on the weekend. Hopefully, you don't get a staff member posting the dreaded "sold out" sign while you're waiting.

So what are people waiting for in the baking Texas sun? The perfect smoked brisket is packed with incredible flavor. Beef ribs that are so tender they melt in your mouth. 

Founder Aaron Franklin is no slouch. He's won several awards like the James Beard Award for Best Chef as well as the Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame for 2020. When Anthony Bourdain visited the famous barbecue joint on his show "No Reservations," he said he swore he'd "never had barbecue this moist. It's supernatural." He went on to say the restaurant's food is "reason enough to slit your best friend's throat, steal a car, drive cross country and then wait in line outside a dreary-looking shed for upwards of two hours" (via Austin American-Statesman).

If Bourdain says it's worth waiting for, it's worth waiting for.

State Bird Provisions (San Francisco, California)

Up in San Francisco, there's one restaurant you'll need to plan far in advance to snag a table for — State Bird Provisions. At one point, the restaurant was named America's Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit, which is no small feat. But with big publicity comes big, big lines and reservations that must be made months in advance.

State Bird Provisions is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the United States, even though it is ironically located in one of the most expensive cities in the country. All of the food comes to your table dim sum style on carts. Some of the notable small plates served include the restaurant's signature quail (AKA the California state bird with provisions), wagyu toast, pork belly and citrus salad, and Sichuan pepper-beef tongue with fried rice.

"Rarely do places live up to the hype, but I am here to tell you that State Bird Provisions is the real deal," says a reviewer on Trip Advisor — and that's after waiting in line for two hours and 15 minutes. There aren't many restaurants in the world that can claim to be worth that long of a wait — but State Bird Provisions is one that does.

Pecan Lodge (Dallas, Texas)

To many in Texas, the name Pecan Lodge is synonymous with barbecue. This family-owned barbecue joint located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas has been called the best barbecue in Texas by Sports Illustrated.

It was founded by a couple named Justin and Diane Fourton who quit their corporate jobs to simply find more time to spend with their family. They built a barbecue pit for fun, then started a small, mobile catering business. They soon leased a more permanent spot at the Dallas Farmer's Market, where they were soon "discovered" — and the rest is history. The spot started snagging all sorts of attention from barbecue foodies and was eventually named one of the top barbecue spots in Texas by Texas Monthly.

Here, you'll find amazing meats, including brisket, beef ribs, sausage, pulled pork, fried ribs, and burnt ends, as well as sides like jalapeno mac and cheese. Don't sweat too much about what you order — just about everything on the menu is a 10 out of 10. With that said, Pecan Lodge is far from a well-kept secret. If you want a bite of some of the best barbecue in (possibly) the world, you'll need to get in line early.

Clinton Street Baking Company (New York, New York)

If you were in the same vicinity as a restaurant that served some of the best pancakes in the country, you'd probably frequent Clinton Street Baking Company as well. But don't expect to roll out of bed hungover for a quick Sunday brunch, as lines for brunch can be incredibly long, due to the limited 32-seat dining room.

The breakfast joint opened in 2001 with the mission to make the best muffins and scones in New York City. What started as a humble hangout spot for local artists turned into a packed restaurant that had some of the best pancakes in town. The restaurant serves around 900 pancakes on a busy day, with your choice of blueberry, banana walnut, or chocolate chunk.

The menu includes several brunch favorites, including brioche French toast, classic eggs benedict, fried chicken and waffles, and more. Apparently, its buttermilk biscuits are worth the wait alone. If you find yourself on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, make sure to get in line before 9 a.m.

Pink's Hot Dogs (Los Angeles, California)

There aren't many places that justify waiting for an ungodly amount of time for a hot dog — but Los Angeles' Pink's Hot Dogs is one of those places. Pink's is one of those restaurants that has become a mainstay of Los Angelean culture, complete with walls covered in autographed and framed celebrity posters. Even the Los Angeles Times named Pink's LA's third-most iconic spot.

Pink's humble beginning came way back in 1939 when a couple named Paul and Betty Pink received a $50 loan from Betty's mother. They used that money to buy a hot dog pushcart, where they began selling a simple chili dog recipe for 10 cents a dog. The couple scraped by, but eventually purchased the property where the cart sold from and even opened a flower shop next door to pay the bills. Almost eight decades later, the same restaurant dishes out thousands of hot dogs and over 200 hamburgers every single day to people coming in from all over the world.

If you find yourself waiting in line at the historic LA institution, you'll find the menu has been expanded widely since its humble beginnings as a chili dog cart. There are several jam-packed hot dogs, like the pastrami Reuben dog, the nacho cheese chili dog, or the Guadalajara Dog. But depending on when you show up, be prepared to wait anywhere from a half hour up to two hours to bite into a piece of Los Angeles history.

Sushi Kashiba (Seattle, Washington)

In Seattle, just about a block away from the crowded and hectic Pike Place Market, lies a restaurant that houses some of the best sushi created by the "Sushi Sensei" of Seattle — Chef Shiro Kashiba, a James Beard Chef Award nominee. Kashiba was actually trained by one of the most famous names in the sushi game, Jiro Ono.

This isn't Chef Kashiba's first venture into sushi in Seattle. After years of grueling apprenticeships under Jiro Ono in Tokyo, he moved to Seattle and opened the city's first sushi bar. He believed he could combine Japan's local and seasonal philosophy with the high-quality seafood of the Pacific Northwest — and the rest is history.

It's no wonder why lines form outside of the restaurant hours before it even opens. If you do arrive early enough, you can eat at the sushi counter and watch a master at his work. You'll get expertly-made nigiri with four different types of tuna that are perfectly seasoned (no need to dunk in soy sauce), as well as other offerings like uni served in a spoon and a crab handroll wrapped in soy paper. Make sure you're at the counter for the full experience.

Las Cuatro Milpas (San Diego, California)

Finding good Mexican food in San Diego isn't hard. You can find fantastic fish tacos, California burritos, ceviche, and street tacos on just about every corner of the city. This makes the fact that a tiny, mom-and-pop, cash-only, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Las Cuatro Milpas consistently has lines that stretch around the block all the more impressive.

The legendary spot was created way back in the 1930s by Petra and Natividad Estudillo in Barrio Logan and is the oldest operating Mexican restaurant in San Diego. Ever since its formation, it has never closed, moved, or changed ownership.

The menu is incredibly simple — tacos, tamales, burritos, and of course, rice and beans. It is most famous for its deep-fried tacos, topped with Mexican cheese and shredded lettuce, but just about everything on the menu is known for being the best in the city.

Just make sure you bring cash, or your whole wait will have been for nothing.

Au Cheval (Chicago, Illinois)

The first thing you'll find at the top of Au Cheval's website is "Au Cheval does not accept reservations. We welcome guests on a first come first serve basis." When that's the policy for a restaurant that was deemed one of the best burgers in America, you know you're going to be waiting for quite a while to get a taste — sometimes for over three hours! 

The menu includes fancier dishes like chopped chicken liver and roasted bone marrow, egg-focused dishes like chilaquiles and crispy potato hash, thick-cut peppered bacon, but most importantly — the signature burger. The burger consists of prime beef cooked until medium, a layer of Kraft American cheese, and buns that get toasted on both sides. It then gets added with a sauce mixture of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and lemon juice along with housemade pickles. If you're up to it, you can add thick-cut bacon, a fried egg, or even foie gras.

If you don't want to wait for three hours for the famous burger, try to come to this Chicago staple during off-peak hours. Just prepare for your burger standards to go up dramatically.

Ess-a-Bagel (New York, New York)

You can't go to New York without getting a good bagel. If you ask a New Yorker, a bagel from anywhere in the city is better than a bagel anywhere else. But when one shop stands out above the rest as one of the best bagels in NYC, you know it's something special.

The bagel shop has been an iconic spot for decades. It was opened in 1976 by Florence and Gene Wilpon. Within two years, it was voted as the #1 bagel in the Tri-State area and never lost its following since. Ess-a-Bagel serves all of the cornerstone New York foods: dense, delicious bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and more. It's not just a tourist spot either — even the locals know it's worth waiting in line for.

If you do brave the line over on 3rd Avenue, try the signature bagel that's topped with nova (a type of smoked salmon), scallion cream cheese, capers, onions, lettuce, and tomato.

Joe's Stone Crab (Miami, Florida)

Trivia question: what Miami restaurant is so popular, Barbra Streisand gets its food delivered all the way to her home in Los Angeles? Answer: Joe's Stone Crab.

This famous Miami seafood spot had humble beginnings as a simple lunch counter back in 1913 on Miami Beach. According to legend, founder Joe Weiss couldn't breathe well due to his asthma and found Miami Beach was one of the few spots he could tolerate. That was the beginning of one of the most iconic seafood spots in the area. It wasn't until 1921 that Joe decided to serve stone crabs — something nobody thought to eat before. But once they hit the menu, they were an instant success.

Today, a trip to Miami isn't complete without visiting Joe's Stone Crab. You'll find tons of delectable seafood dishes, including snow crab claws, coconut shrimp, jumbo-lump crab cakes, lobster rolls, and of course, Joe's classic meal full of stone crabs. However, you'll have to wait for a long time to eat at this historic spot.

Howlin' Ray's (Los Angeles, California)

You don't have to be in Nashville to get top-tier Nashville-style hot chicken. LA's Howlin' Ray's has made it clear the hot chicken movement can even be found near the sunny beaches on the Pacific as well.

Chef-founder Johnny Ray Zone worked under notable chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, and Nobu Matsuhisa before falling in love with the Southern-style hot chicken found in Nashville. When he got back to LA after a trip, he and his wife did the customary LA move — start a food truck. One day, Johnny's wife Amanda put together a hot chicken sandwich on a whim after buying buns from a burger stand — and thus started the legendary long lines that follow the restaurant.

Today, Howlin' Ray's can be found in Chinatown's Far East Plaza (as well as a new location in Pasadena with equally long lines). If you do find yourself trying to snag a hot chicken sandwich, you might find yourself waiting in line for up to three hours on weekends and even five hours on weekends that happen to fall on a holiday. But if you do brave the lines, you'll get your hands on hot chicken that rivals its siblings in Nashville. If you're ready to sweat, get in line.

Katz's Delicatessen (New York, New York)

Sure, there are plenty of tourist traps in NYC. The Empire State Building, horse-drawn carriages through Central Park, pictures with costumed characters at Times Square. But some things in the city are so iconic that both tourists and locals know it's the real deal. Enter Katz's Delicatessen.

This New York Institution has been serving up some of the best sandwiches in the city since 1888. For over a century, the deli grew with the city and became an invaluable part of the neighborhood by serving millions of newly immigrated families and sending meats to soldiers in World War II. Over a century later, it is still known for serving up some of the best sandwiches around.

Heading to the Deli during peak times could have you waiting over an hour, but it's worth it. Even the waiting and ordering process at Katz's is a unique experience. When you enter the oldest deli in New York City, you'll be directed to a long counter with several workers waiting to take your order. You order your sandwich, then are given a small plate with a sample of meat as well as a ticket to take to the cashier after your meal. If you get the iconic pastrami on rye, you'll be greeted with a massive, meat-stacked sandwich slathered in deli mustard.

Don't plan your next trip to New York without a visit to Katz's.