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10 Incredible Meals in Unlikely Locations

By Billy Lyons
December 3, 2013

There was a time when great food was only available in a certain kind of restaurant - white tablecloths, fleets of servers, heavy silverware, etc. But the democratization of gourmet food has brought high-quality cooking to all sorts of locations, from gym chains to strip clubs. It's easier than ever to find great food in New York City, and incredible meals are popping up in the most unexpected places. Here’s a roundup of some of the city’s most offbeat dining spots, from a rooftop farm to a Brooklyn industrial park.

  • The Heath at Gallow Green Station

    After breathing new life into Macbeth, the brains behind the interactive performance Sleep No More are attempting to reboot the restaurant experience at The Heath at Gallow Green Station (located on the top floor of the Sleep No More performance space). With a design reminiscent of a Scottish train station in a quaint village, and a menu full of pub fare like meat pies and spit-turned lamb leg, diners can feel the theatrics surrounding them - even if they aren’t planning on seeing the show. Taxidermy, fog machines, waiters in outlandish costumes and wallpaper that only a grandma would love help create a haunted-mansion-like atmosphere. The Heath offers a pre-show prix fixe for theatre goers as well as the option to dine à la carte.

    530 W. 27th St.; 212-564-1662

  • Ted and Honey Cafe at Bldg 92 at Brooklyn Navy Yard

    Hidden deep inside this 300-acre industrial park on the East River, the Ted and Honey Cafe brings creative sandwiches and baked goods to the heart of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Located inside BLDG 92, the Yard's visitor and exhibition center, the cafe makes everything from scratch (down to the ketchup) and concentrates on offering local, organic meals. You might have to dodge a few forklifts and trucks to get to the cafe, but the food - and the panoramic view - is worth the hassle.

    63 Flushing Ave., Bldg. 92, Brooklyn; 347-335-0529

  • Brooklyn Bowl

    Brooklyn Bowl’s mix of live performances, lanes and exclusive beers from nearby Brooklyn Brewery are reason enough brave the hordes on the L train at peak hours. Even better, all the food is by local empire builders Blue Ribbon. Their famous fried chicken is available with sides like mashed potatoes, cole slaw and collard greens; the French bread pizzas are deliciously trashy; and the finger foods like pork rinds and gravy-smothered fries are awesome, though greasy foods are proven to be terrible for your bowling game.

    61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn; 718-963-3369

  • The Comedy Cellar

    Did you hear the one about the comedy club that served Mediterranean food? It was pita-ful! Fortunately, no matter how bad the jokes are, the tiny basement with the world-famous brick wall serves surprisingly great Middle Eastern dishes (kebabs, hummus and much more). Everything comes from the kitchen of the Olive Tree Cafe and Bar upstairs and is delivered right to your table, though you may want to keep your utensil-clanking at a minimum if you want to avoid a comic's ire. 

    117 MacDougal St.; 212-254-3480

  • Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

    One of the rare dinner theaters that delivers a great performance and amazing food, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 brings you straight into 19th-century Russia. The epic, electro-pop musical is inspired by War and Peace, and the food matches the narrative with potato pierogi, borscht, and smoked salmon on Russian toast - there’s even an afternoon tea service for matinee shows. To see the play in true Russian oligarch style, book the "tzar table," which includes caviar, seafood towers, and unlimited sparkling wine and vodka.

    259 W. 45th St.

  • Robert's Steakhouse

    Located in the balcony of the Penthouse Executive Club, this might be the only steak joint in town where a New York Strip has two meanings. But the food here isn't an afterthought. In 2007, the New York Times' Frank Bruni wrote that Robert's has "some of the very best steaks in New York City." The gentleman’s club offers a lineup of well-aged chops including a $51 T-bone steak and a $53-per-person porterhouse for two; everything is deeply seared in a custom, two-deck broiler. After dinner, relax with an off-the-menu neck massage, delivered by one of the provocatively-dressed female staffers who prowl the dining room.

    603 W. 45th St.; 212-245-0002

  • Creative Juice

    Leave it to Danny Meyer to find a way to offer a better post-gym nourishment than a sports drink from a vending machine. The restaurateur’s line of healthy cafes - currently located in several Equinox fitness clubs - serve creative food that runs the gamut from cold-pressed juices to a grass-fed bison meatball grain bowl.

    Multiple locations

  • Yuji Ramen at Bowery Whole Foods

    While most supermarkets give you the ingredients needed to make an exceptional meal, Bowery Whole Foods gives its customers maverick ramen chef Yuji Haraguchi. His pop-up, Yuji Ramen, began a series of omakase dinners at the Bowery location, where he introduced New Yorkers to mazemen​, a style of broth-less ramen, often dressed with out-there ingredients like smoked salmon, cream cheese, bacon or eggs. The Yuji Ramen stall is now a permanent installation on the mezzanine of the Bowery Whole Foods; walk-ins are accepted, but you must reserve to get into the omakase dinners. A second Yuji Ramen stall is in the works for the upcoming Gowanus Whole Foods location, opening in mid-December. 

    95 E. Houston St.; 212-420-1320

  • Brooklyn Grange

    The world's largest rooftop farm hosts a variety of events at their 2.5-acre plot, including crab boils and guest-chef dinners with folks like Parish Hall's Evan Hanczor. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs and salad mixes are all grown up top, which ensures your vegetarian friends will always have something to snack on. While the ability to dine underneath the stars won't start up again until the spring, future guests can salivate over the appetite they'll work up if they choose to climb the seven stories to get there.

    37-18 Northern Blvd., Queens; 347-670-3660

  • Anywhere South of 60th Street

    Whether it's a dive bar, your apartment or a park bench, a new food-delivery start-up called Caviar allows you to order food from some of Manhattan's greatest restaurants. Think fried-chicken geniuses Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter, Filipino specialist Maharlika, Katz's Deli and even the Corner Bistro - with a flat rate of $9.99 for any order. Now the challenge is in your court: create your own unlikely location for a crazy-delicious meal. 

    Multiple locations in Manhattan (Delivery currently available south of 60th Street only)

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Places Mentioned

The Comedy Cellar

Comedy Club • Greenwich Village

Atmo.19 Decor13 Service15 CostE
 
 
 
BROOKLYN BOWL

Bowling Alley • Williamsburg

Atmo.22 Decor20 Service17 CostM
 
 
 
Maharlika

Asian • East Village

Food25 Decor20 Service22 Cost$36
 
 
 
SPiN New York

Bar • Flatiron

Atmo.21 Decor19 Service17 CostM
 
 
 
 
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