Due to interminable wait times at New York’s exceedingly popular no-reservations restaurants, we've sat down for dinner at some of the city’s hottest tables a) drunk, and b) so hungry we could eat the table. (Fortunately, said tables are typically made from reclaimed wood sourced in enchanted forests upstate.) That’s why we compiled this guide to the best back-up restaurants in New York City. Located a few doors down from those super crowded, no-reservations dining destinations, these stellar spots have excellent menus, killer cocktails and minimal wait times. Come on in; your table is ready (or will be ready sooner than that other place).

Courtesy of Todd's Mill

BEST MISSION CHINESE BACK-UP: TODD’S MILL: If the narrow holding cell hallway leading into Danny Bowein’s usually well-reviewed Mission Chinese could speak, it would say that, like fetch, your timely table for three is not going to happen. Fortunately, this LES block is also home to Todd’s Mill, a New American restaurant that No.7’s Matt Suchomski quietly opened last December. You won’t need to wait at the bar, but you can take the edge off with the bracing Spring & Sour, made with super dry Brugal rum, Lillet, lime and, curiously, cedar shrub. Or sample from seasonal menu favorites like roast chicken over grits and chanterelles, or a hearty pork shank served with green garbanzo beans.

Todd’s Mill is located at 162 Orchard Sreet (212) 995-0300, toddsmill.com

Rucola (photo courtesy of Uhuru)

BEST BATTERSBY BACK-UP: RUCOLA: There are just 28 tables at much-beloved Battersby, meaning the chance of grabbing a quick bite here is about as likely as finding an affordable dry cleaner in Carroll Gardens. Thankfully, the bright, airy Rucola is mere blocks away. Situated in an almost embarrassingly picturesque restored brownstone, Rucola specializes in affordable Northern Italian fare like house-made tagliatelle, roast pork sandwiches, and potato and salt cod soup. While the place is far from empty on most evenings, the dining room has long wooden tables perfect for sharing, and the entire menu is available at the inviting, warmly lit bar.

Rucola is located at 190 Dean Street, Carroll Gardens / Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718) 576-3209, rucolabrooklyn.com

Cafe El Portal (via Angela D. on Yelp)

BEST UNCLE BOONS BACK-UP: CAFÉ EL PORTAL: While Uncle Boons does accept a very small number of reservations, it saves most tables for the vast sea of walk-ins pouring in nightly. Round the corner at Elizabeth Street, though, and you’ll happen upon Cafe El Portal. A hidden gem serving homespun Mexican cooking, the family-run cantina has the sort of charm that makes its floral plastic tablecloths seem the height of chic. House specialties like chiles rellenos and roast chicken in Oaxacan mole sauce are flavorful and filling, but the true star might be the dessert menu’s pastel de tres leches. Often a soggy, saccharine mess, Portal’s version is sweet and buoyant.

Cafe El Portal is located at 174 Elizabeth Street, Nolita (212) 226-4642

Courtesy of Apiary

BEST IPPUDO BACK-UP: APIARY: It’s strange how few people seem to know about Apiary, given its prime East Village location and impressive lineage. (Chef Scott Bryan is a Veritas vet, and managing partner Jenny Moon worked at Daniel and Tabla.) While Ippudo may have half of the NYU’s graduating class queuing on its sidewalk, Apiary has a sleek, modern dining room and sophisticated, New American fare. Entrees like Long Island duck breast over parsnip puree, and Scottish salmon with endives and chive butter, are complimented by a 300-bottle wine list, including some 20 vintages available by the glass. On Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Apiary has a three-course, prix fixe dinner priced at just $38.

Apiary is located at 60 3rd Avenue (212) 254-0888, apiarynyc.com

Petite Crevette (photo via Davida T. on Foursquare)

BEST POK POK BACK-UP: LA PETITE CREVETTE: It’s been over a year since Portland chef Andy Ricker launched his Thai boite on the Columbia waterfront, and still the crowds clamor for more, more, more. Those with an empty stomach beneath their rebel yell should try nearby La Petite Crevette. Almost comically small, this Gallic bistro prepares market-fresh seafood like grilled mahi nicoise and whole branzino, roasted and accompanied by mashed potatoes and lightly buttered vegetables. Chef Neil Ganic once threw a live lobster at a table of diners who insinuated his ingredients weren’t fresh, which we feel demonstrates either total lunacy or an admirable commitment to sea-to-table dining. While there is often a wait here, there's a relaxed adjacent bar where you can pleasantly pass the time.

La Petite Crevette is located at 144 Union Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718) 855-2632

Courtesy of Palo Santo

BEST AL DI LA BACK-UP: PALO SANTO: The elder statesman of our list, Park Slope’s Al Di La Trattoria has been refusing reservations for more than 15 years. Since ol’ Pappy van Walk-in shows no sign of relenting, consider turning the literal and figurative corner onto Union to check out Palo Santo. A rustic-chic affair of exposed brick and flattering candlelight, Palo Santo serves an unusual mash-up of South American and Caribbean cuisines, like coconut-plantain stew, fried chicken with spicy mango pickles, and braised rabbit with sweet potato and mustard. The wine list is impressive, with some usual suspects like Argentinean Malbec accompanied by lesser-known vintages from Uruguay, Chile and New York State.

Palo Santo is located at 652 Union Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718) 636-6311, palosanto.us

Emily Saladino is a food and travel writer in New York City. She is usually pretty patient.