New York City tops international restaurant-scene rankings for very good reason. There’s an option for every possible taste, and prestige dining venues command intimidating wait times for a prime reservation. But for some adventurous eaters, the beaten path of NYC restaurants, no matter how celebrated, isn’t quite enough. These novelty junkies want something different, something hard-to-find, and something completely delicious. Fortunately for them (and for all the rest of us), NYC boasts a plethora of hidden and semi-secret food destinations, each with a different culinary focus. For diners in search of the unexpected, we’ve rounded up the city’s most intriguing speakeasy restaurants, under-the-radar supper clubs, and incognito pop-up eateries.Read More
10 ‘Secret’ Restaurants In NYC
Tucked behind a butcher shop located in a building once owned by Andy Warhol, Bohemian was an early adopter of the “secret restaurant” concept, beginning its run on Bond Street in 2009. To obtain a reservation, you’ll need to cozy up to your foodie friends, as the easiest route involves a referral-only unlisted phone number. However, Bohemian recently added an email-introduction option to their website, making reservations possible for those without savvy-diner buddies. Once you have a booking, you’ll be granted access to Bohemian’s six-course tasting menu, featuring small plates influenced by Japanese and American cuisines. Highlights include Washu-beef short rib sashimi, pan-roasted branzino, and uni croquettes with mushroom cream.
Asian Spicy Curry
A pop-up restaurant inside a Chinatown luncheonette, Asian Spicy Curry offers a vibrant Malaysian menu with plenty of heat. Prospective guests need only walk into Mama Eatery on Mulberry Street and ask for Asian Spicy Curry, as advance reservations are not accepted. The curry soups come loaded with proteins, rice, and/or noodles, all fortified with mellow coconut and bold notes of fish paste. Meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians alike will find dishes to suit their palates, and the menu frequently features daily specials created by Yip Khuan Thye, the talented home cook helming the Asian Spicy Curry kitchen.
Ukrainian East Village
While the East Village’s status as a center for Ukrainian culture has significantly waned in recent years, it’s still home to one of the city’s top destinations for home-style Ukrainian specialties. Hidden deep within the lobby of the Ukrainian National Home community center, the cozy, wood-paneled Ukrainian East Village restaurant serves up excellent renditions of Eastern European comfort dishes, from pierogis to stuffed cabbage to beef goulash. While easy to overlook for the uninitiated, Ukrainian East Village has been a neighborhood staple for decades, and it remains a must-visit spot for those longing for a taste of the old East Village.
To find dinnertable, Ricky Arias’ Japanese-influenced New American eatery, you’ll need to head to the curtained area at the back of The Garret bar and ring the ‘Push For Food’ doorbell on the wall. You’ll then be escorted into a quaint dining room with a counter facing the open kitchen, where you can watch Chef Arias and his team whip up dishes like Cool Ranch Carrots with shiso ranch and nori, Octopus Poke with soy yuzu, and Popcorn Ribs with a soy caramel glaze. The majority of the restaurant is held for walk-in parties, but a limited number of advance reservations can be booked on Resy.
While primarily a cocktail speakeasy, Garfunkel’s features an afternoon tea service to rival any in the city. This vintage-inspired boîte can be found up an unmarked flight of stairs inside a Clinton Street burger joint, where evening guests can sink into velvet sofas and sip cocktails like the Monte Carlo (rye, Benedictine, Angostura, lemon twist) and the Quill (gin, Punt e Mes, Campari, absinthe float). On Wednesdays to Sundays from 12-5 p.m., however, Garfunkel’s partners with Janam Tea to offer an English-style high tea with cucumber-mint cream cheese sandwiches, brown butter cookies, scones with clotted cream & jam, and pots of Indian tea. Reservations must be made in advance through the Garfunkel’s website.
For New York City diners weary of the restaurant scene, supper clubs provide an intimate alternative with an added level of exclusivity, thanks to limited reservation lists and small venues. An excellent example can be found in Wednesdays, a bi-weekly dinner series hosted in a loft apartment in Chelsea. Chef Jenny Dorsey (an Atera alum) creates 7-course tasting menus, all designed to pair with cocktail flights devised by her husband and collaborator, mixologist Matt Dorsey. Past dinners included items like duck-fat grilled oysters, Jerusalem artichokes with turmeric & fermented honey, and lamb “pastrami” with red juniper & Szechuan peppercorns. To make a reservation, add your email address to the mailing list on Wednesdays’ website, and they’ll notify you when tickets for the next dinner go on sale.
Dining Room at the Met
Until recently, the Central Park-facing restaurant on the fourth floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art restricted access to premium museum members only. This year, however, the Met decided to open this private dining space to the public, allowing all visitors to enjoy a New American menu overlooking the park (with a direct view of Cleopatra’s Needle). Because the dining room’s public opening wasn’t highly publicized, it remains quiet and serene, with a hidden-in-plain-sight vibe. If the crowds and the bustle of the museum start to wear you down, the Dining Room at the Met will set you up with a much-needed refuge (and a lovely plate of hamachi crudo). Reservations can be made on OpenTable.
A roving dinner series very deliberately without a permanent space, Oxalis combines the unpredictability of a pop-up with the convivial nature of a supper club. Led by Chef Nico Russell (formerly of Daniel), Oxalis hosts dinners all over the city, but it frequently comes to roost at Williamsburg’s The Brooklyn Kitchen. Following Oxalis on Instagram or joining the mailing list on its website is the best way to stay informed about upcoming dinner dates, so you can snap up your exceedingly-reasonable tickets ($95) for the 6-course tasting menu, with fresh and seasonal dishes like vanilla-roasted sunchokes with mushrooms and walnuts and charred cuttlefish with fennel and salted tomato.
As a prelude to his upcoming Williamsburg restaurant (the awesomely-named Fire and Ice), Noma alum Mads Refslund is hosting an under-the-radar pop-up called Knightshift, located inside Meyers Bageri in South Williamsburg. Through early 2018, Refslund will test prospective dishes for his own restaurant concept, all riffing on the canon of New Nordic cuisine. The menu changes on a daily basis, but past dishes have included butter-poached brook trout with fermented beans, baked oysters with celery and parsley, and pickled duck leg with salted cranberries and red cabbage. Knightshift operates on a no-reservations, first-come-first-served policy.
Ganesh Temple Canteen
In the basement of the Ganesh Temple Society of North America in Flushing, you’ll find a no-frills cafeteria with community-center bulletin boards, flat fluorescent lighting, and some of the finest dosas available in New York City. Ganesh Temple Canteen specializes in these crepe-like triangles made from fermented rice and lentil batter, and the chefs stuff them with creative fillings like Pondicherry Masala (spicy chutney, onion, green chili, potato) and Spicy Paneer (butter, spicy masala gravy, cottage cheese, potato). In keeping with its casual, low-key style, tables at the canteen are walk-in only.
Anthem of the Seas
After you’ve explored your city from top to bottom, it’s time to seek out adventure elsewhere. Why not try at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas packs options for thrill-seekers, (iFly skydiving simulations, anyone?) foodies, and globetrotters — and that’s just on the ship. So when you’ve maxed out all these local options, check out what awaits. Royal Caribbean is now sailing from Cape Liberty to the Caribbean.