8 Secrets of Boston Restaurants and Bars

From off-menu eats to a secret cocktail club, these are too good to keep quiet
May 23, 2016
by Scott Kearnan

We're always sharing the secrets of Boston's dining scene — in fact, you can find past looks at little-known deals, hidden menus and other clandestine culinary experiences here and here. But now, we're giving another look at the undiscovered dining details you need to know. From off-menu items to a cocktail club hidden in a closet, the secrets are out. 

Night Market Has a Secret Menu
At this subterranean Harvard Square hideaway, chef Jason Tom's takes on Asian street food are draw enough on their own. But most guests don't know Night Market also has a secret menu of additional eats available only by request: including the "Drrty Danwich" (French bread stuffed with spicy ragout and crispy shallot), "Chips & Dip" (fried wonton strips with a hot and sour mushroom dip) and "Bread Service" (garlic flatbread with seven sauces, from tomato and ginger ketchup to tamarind chutney). There's also a secret "Beer of the Moment," a rotating brew available only to those who ask. 

Casa Verde Serves a (Limited) Burger
Last month, the team behind Tres Gatos and Centre Street Cafe completed a neighborhood hat trick by opening this Mexican joint in Jamaica Plain. Although vibrant, veggie-friendly tacos are the star attraction, Casa Verde also serves a secret burger: Presented as a torta, it's a tasty patty inside a housemade bolillo roll with chipotle aïoli and red onion escabèche. Only 12 are prepared daily, so scarf them while you can. 

Saloniki Has a Secret Sauce
Chef Jody Adams' foray into fast-casual, the counter-service Greek eatery called Saloniki, is built around a build-your-own concept that lets diners fill pitas or salad bowls with their choice of proteins, toppings and sauces. But one option isn't listed on the menu: the "secret sauce," which guests can add by request. Though Adams won't reveal the recipe, she'll offer that its signature tang comes from the use of lemons preserved in-house. 

Eastern Standard Sells Ice Cream Cups on Game Days
Peanuts and Cracker Jacks have nothing on the game day snack quietly being offered at Eastern Standard. Kenmore Square's stellar American brasserie has a sweet surprise for Red Sox fans: During home games, ask and ye shall receive off-menu ice cream cups inspired by those Hoodsie Cups you lapped up during childhood summers. The flavors rotate, but recent selections have included chocolate-cherry and peaches-and-cream. 

Loco's Raw Bar Gives a Sneak Peek at Menu Items
There's only room for three seats at the raw bar at Southie's Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar, but it's worth making sure you snag one. Chef Matt Drummond makes a point to give extra attention to whatever trio assembles at that vantage point to his kitchen, doling out special tastes — including some off-menu items and in-development recipes — to guests gathered here. You'd be crazy not to try.

You Can Score "7 Minutes in Heaven" at Backbar
Not to be confused with that party game you played in junior high (though make-out sessions may or may not transpire), this "7 Minutes in Heaven" refers to an ultra-exclusive cocktail bar within the already-intimate confines of Somerville's Backbar. On Friday and Saturday nights, guests can reserve a five-seat private bar hidden inside a closet, where rotating bartenders (including, perhaps, owner Sam Treadway, pictured) will mix up tipples and serve snacks in the most up-close-and-personal atmosphere you could possibly imagine. Each weekend also features a different theme — for instance, Willy Wonka-inspired cocktails characterized one recent experience. 

Area Four Has a Secret Pizza
Although those in the know also know that it's referred to as the secret "peetza." Amusing spelling quirks aside, the pie itself is awesome: an off-menu assemblage of a margarita topped with sopressata, pickled banana peppers and two eggs. You can get it until 11 PM if you know to ask — and now that the secret's out, you do. 

Cafe ArtScience Has a Late Night Menu
Still running under the radar is chef Patrick Campbell's just-launched late night menu at Cafe ArtScience, offered Mondays–Wednesdays from 10–11:30 PM only. On it is the Skinny Burger, a simple patty inspired by the fast-food version at White Castle, plus other fun fare like buttermilk fried chicken, tacos, bar guru Todd Maul’s tiki cocktail-for-two and pastry chef Renae Connolly’s housemade ice cream sandwiches.