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10 Hidden NYC Eateries

By James Mulcahy
November 6, 2012
Photo by: Roboppy via Flickr

One sure way to build some buzz about your restaurant? Make it a secret. New York eateries that hide themselves aren't lacking for crowds - just take a look at the lines for Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien or the wait-list to get to La Esquina, which is found underneath a taco stand. While everyone knows about those "hidden" joints, there are a few secret eateries that are actually hard to find. Check out the list below for a primer on these unmarked haunts, and let us know about your favorite secret restaurants in the comments.

  • Hudson Clearwater

    This West Village New American serves affordable fare in a warm and charming space, but if you want in, you have to find it first (expect to see equally confused patrons on the corner). Diners have to go around the corner on Morton Street and look for an unmarked steel door that will lead them into a courtyard - if you write down the address and try to enter on Hudson Street, you'll just find a door that doesn't open. Once you're inside the courtyard, the restaurant is up a small set of metal stairs -  the best place to chill out is at the chef's counter, which takes up the left side of the cozy room. Though reservations are recommended for this popular haunt, we've been able to score a seat at the bar pretty much every time we've decided to stop by.

    The Details: 447 Hudson St.; 212-989-3255

  • Ramen Joint Below No Name Bar

    Hip Greenpoint residents have become fond of this nameless watering hole for its expansive outdoor garden and cheap beers, but recently the noodles have become a draw as well. A small ramen shop (that's also nameless) opened in the basement earlier this year - patrons order their fare at the bar upstairs and then take their ticket to the little kitchen window, where chefs quickly whip up brothy mixes of meat and noodles. You can sit at a few bar stools by the kitchen and slurp up the offerings, but most of the hirsute patrons choose to carry their snack into the garden, where there are plenty of tables to plonk down that bowl.

    The Details: 597 Manhattan Ave.

  • Soto

    Those walking down Sixth Avenue may not realize that some of the city's best sushi lies behind this unassuming storefront - although this eatery doesn't try to overtly disguise itself as something else, it's easy to miss the unmarked door and curious white facade. This is one restaurant that really has no need to advertise it's presence; it received a 29 Food score in our last New York City Restaurants survey. If you know anything about great sushi, you know were to find it.

    The Details: 357 Sixth Ave.; 212-414-308

  • Marchi's

    While hidden restaurants seem like a recent trend, this Gramercy Italian has been ushering diners through its unmarked door for decades. If you haven't been let in on the secret, just look for the softly lit coat of arms that celebrates the family that's owned the restaurant from day one. In addition to signage, this old-school eatery also does away with menus. The waiters will chat with your table able what's going to come out of the kitchen. Those in on the secret know that the best time to venture over is during warm weather =- the spot comes equipped with a backyard garden that's ideal when you're in the mood for alfresco dining.

    The Details: 251 East 31st St.; 212-679-2494

    Photo: a2zumac via Flickr

  • The Taco Truck at The Woods

    Drinkers slamming pickle backs and cans of PBR might wander to a restaurant after a few rounds of drinks at this South Williamsburg bar, but they don't have to stumble onto the streets. There is a Mexican food truck hidden in this watering hole's backyard - while it may not be fancy, a plate of $3 tacos may be just what you need to keep from falling over. There are also burritos on offer if you're looking for a larger option (aka if you really had too much to drink). There are plenty of picnic tables on the spacious patio where you can camp out and chow down - the whole thing is like a poor man's restaurant garden.

    The Details: 48 South 4th Street, Brooklyn

    Photo: jasonlam via Flickr

  • Taam Tov

    Located on the third floor of a building in the Diamond District, this kosher eatery is accessed via an elevator that's set among the jewelry counters on the first floor. Once you're upstairs, you can enjoy the unique cuisinerife with influences from both the Middle East and Eastern Europe. There are familiar options like lamb kebabs and hummus, but if you're going to take the time to find this eatery, you should also discover things like the manty, which are Uzbek dumplings filled with meat and spices.

    The Details: 41 West 47th St.; 212-768-8001

    Photo: iamos via Flickr

  • Bohemian

    Located behind a butcher shop in NoLita, this hidden Japanese eatery isn't just hard to find - it's hard to get into. Guests have to make a reservation before stopping by, and recent reports had wait times longer than a month for the lucky few who are able to score a table. The exclusive quotient here is largely a symptom of the joint's size - it's really small and the layout lets diners have a little bit of space (aka you won't be packed into tables like sardines). The food here is the real draw - although it's pricey, this hidden restaurant scored a 27 in our last survey and draws a crowd that's more interested in an authentic take on Japanese fare rather than a secret scene.

    The Details: 57 Great Jones St.; 212-260-2333

  • Sakagura

    This secret Japanese izakaya has been serving sake since 1996, but if you want to fill your glass with one of the over 200 varieties of the beverage, you'll have to find it first. It's in the basement of an office building. Even though the restaurant is tucked away, it has long been popular with commuters grabbing a few drinks before they rush over to to catch their trains at nearby Grand Central. The secret has been out for a while on this one, but it doesn't need to rely on any gimmicks to draw in consumers - the joint has a solid 25 Food score and has been lauded for its authentic take on Tokyo cuisine.

    The Details: 211 East 43rd St.; 212-953-7253

  • Mint's Thai Kitchen

    Although it's easy to walk by this subterranean spot in Forest Hills, you'll want to take careful note of the address and be sure that you don't miss it. Though it's hard to spy from the sidewalk, this casual Thai kitchen turns out some solid curries, noodles and other traditional dishes that have long been favorites of local diners. If you're in the neighborhood, the time to play hide-and-seek with this eatery is during lunch, when the restaurant offers a killer $8, two-course lunch option.

    The Details: 70-15A Austin St.; 718-268-1470

  • That Burger

    Bourbon, beer and rock aren't the only things on order at Alphabet City Bar Idle Hands. The watering hole (which shares the space with equally grungy Billy Hurricane's) also plays host to an outpost of That Burger, a standalone patty slinger that operates out of the bar seven days a week. The juicy offerings leave plenty of beer money left over, with most of the burgers available for under $10 (and many hitting the $6 mark). There are also portabello sandwiches for vegetarians in the house and egg sandwiches that make for a sort of brunch for drinkers who show up during the daytime to knock a few back.

    The Details: 25 Avenue B; 609-415-0326

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