Imagine walking through a discrete doorway, up (or down) stairs, to find yourself in a fine dining restaurant. These are New York City’s hidden restaurants. Like New York City’s hidden bars, these restaurants have unmarked entrances, or are discreetly hidden inside another establishment. Below we compiled a list of our 10 favorites, from a hidden Nordic eatery inside a Greenpoint bar to a ramen shop hiding in plain sight inside a Whole Foods.
In the tiny taqueria La Esquina on the Soho-Nolita border is a grey door simply marked employees only. With a reservation needed to gain entrance, one is brought to a fine dining brasserie in the basement. Serving dishes from Mexican style grilled corn to ceviche, an elevated selection of Mexican food is offered.
2. Kuma Inn
An unsuspecting doorway on Ludlow Street—with no sign but vertical lettering on one side—leads to a stairway to this Thai restaurant. Run by King Phojanakong, who previously worked at such respected restaurants as Daniel, Kuma Inn offers an “Asian tapas” style experience, with several smaller dishes. They have several signature dishes on the menu, from a yellowfin tuna tartare to grilled salmon.
In this Greenpoint Bar, there is a secret Thai shop in the basement. Originally a ramen shop led by Lindsay Salminen, previously of Williamsburg’s Pies n’ Thighs and Diner, the shop has now taken a Thai direction under Chef Nam. Dishes range from Bok Choy to Fish ball Noodle Soup. Closed for the winter, the kitchen will reopen in the spring.
Hidden down a Freeman’s Alley in the Lower East Side, this restaurant sports a hunting lodge type atmosphere, styled as a ”rugged clandestine American tavern,” according to the restaurant. With a very meat based menu, the hit menu item is a hot artichoke with crispy bread. Of the restaurants on the list, this is indeed one of the more hidden and lesser known.
Apres Ski Fondue Chalet hidden behind the kitchen in Cafe Select. Photo via quintessence.
Through the kitchen of this stylish Austrian eatery in Soho is a hidden room. Mimicking an Apres bar in the alps, fondue and raclette are served during the colder months. During the warmer months, the back room turns into Cervantes Oyster Shack and Bar–a nautically themed restaurant serving a selection of seafood dishes.
Hidden inside the Le Parker Meridian hotel in Midtown, this tiny burger shop is located behind curtains in the hotel’s lobby. Though well known—so not much of a secret anymore—it still serves up great burgers and always allows you to feel as though you found a gem. The burger’s also happen to be some of the best in the city, giving reason for the often long line.
Photo via Luksus’s Instagram
This small Nordic eatery in Greenpoint is accessed through a door in the back of the craft beer bar Tørst. Offering a tasting menu, the restaurant serves a tasting menu of carefully prepared dishes by Chef Daniel Burn, previously part of the Momofuku empire. In addition, the restaurant offers up a special weekly Sunday Roast. When your done eating, the front bar is one of the better beer bars in the city with over 20 beers on tap.
Interior photo courtesy of Zenkichi
A discrete door in a wood paneled wall with the buildings number—77 above—is the entrance to this Williamsburg restaurant styled as a “Japanese brasserie.” It is surely a unique dining experience, from the hidden entrance, to the buzzer used to call the waiter to the semi-private tables. The restaurant offers both a la carte and an eight course omakase tasting menu.
Located in the West Village, the entrance to Hudson Clearwater is an unmarked door on a small side street. Once inside, you are greeted by a courtyard with outdoor stairs leading into the main restaurant. The food can be characterized as American Nouveau with Chef Wes Long at the helms. In the warmer months, tables are set up in the courtyard for al fresco dining.
10. Yuji Ramen
Yuji Ramen in the Bowery Whole Foods
This restaurant, more so counter, is indeed hidden in broad daylight. On the second floor of the Bowery Whole Foods location—and now within the Whole Foods’ Gowanus location—this spot serves some unexpectedly delicious ramen. The ramen is unique in that it is mazemen, or Tokyo style, which means that it has no broth. Originally sold at Smorgasburg, the first brick and mortar location was in Kinfolk Studios in Williamsburg.