Every foodie knows that the culinary scene in New York is epic. Every type of cuisine is represented, and diners can find the best chefs offering their tastiest dishes. But not all of these gustatory delights are for everyone, and it’s not the price that’s keeping people away. It’s just that there are secrets in the New York dining scene, and not everyone is in the know.
Bars are hidden and not easily seen. Sometimes a gastronomic marvel isn’t listed in the menu. In some cases, it’s all about whom you know—you can participate only if you’re invited. Here’s a look at some of the best-kept secrets in the NY culinary scene:
1-Raoul’s Burger. Raoul’s itself isn’t a secret. It was found by 2 French brothers and over the years they’ve had a lot of press. You can find them easily enough online and at 180 Prince St. Here, the steak is justifiably famous. But Raoul’s French burger is legendary. It ignores American hamburger tradition, and simply goes about making a burger that can only come from a French kitchen.
The beef patty is a 7.5-ounce brisket blend, and it’s subtly rich. It’s coated in a thick layer of kosher salt and peppercorns, and then seared in a pan. It’s topped with cornichons, slivered red onions, watercress and melted triple cream Saint-André cheese. The bread is a challah bun. It’s served with a bowl of cream and cognac au poivre dipping sauce which you use French dip-style, and the chef will insist on it. To complete the meal, you also get duck fat fries that are the best in the whole city.
The catch is that it’s not listed on the menu, so to order it you have to know about it. And on weekdays, Raoul’s makes only a dozen—so you better get there quick.
2-Meyers Bageri. The Margo Patisserie Café is quite well-known in Brooklyn. But insiders know a juicy secret. Hidden inside the café is a pop-up bakery called Meyers Bageri. They served what many experts call the best pastries in the city: croissants stuffed with marzipan, wild blueberry Danish pastries, and complex braided cinnamon swirls.
To enjoy these, you have to get there on Saturdays. Your sweet tooth will thank you. Make this day your off-the-diet day!
3-The Bronx Pipe Smoking Society Small Game Dinner. This is actually a yearly event, and it’s hosted by the famous Baron Ambrosia. This guy is an Emmy winner and is the official Culinary Ambassador of the Bronx and New York.
Every year he hosts this dinner, and you can only hope to attend. It’s an invitation-only party. It’s one of the most exclusive dining events of the year, and it’s famous for the diversity of the menu. In previous events, the menu has included muskrat, cricket brie sushi, and beaver tacos. And you could have drunk skunk-spiked cocktails too.
4-Stanley’s Pharmacy. There’s a little corner in Chinatown that you may have passed by even though you’re an avowed foodie. That’s understandable, since the name of the place is Stanley’s Pharmacy. But this is actually a shop for artisanal sodas and herbal teas. You can get tonics for various minor health concerns: sinus infections, insomnia, and hangovers.
It’s run by Stanley George, who used to be toe pharmacist to celebs in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Now his place is the hangout for the stylish set. It’s very cool, bright, and nicely welcoming, and you can stay as long as you like.
5-Subculture Dining. As the name implies, this is the epitome of exclusive underground dining, with secret locations for exclusive gatherings. To join a meal, you’ll first have to apply for membership. If you’re accepted, you won’t be notified where the location is until just a few hours before it begins.
To get in requires all manners of entry. Sometimes it’s just a password, or you may be asked to bring an ingredient. In a few cases, the entry requirement is ridiculously complicated—you may be asked to jump from a plane!
6-Bistro Petit Tasting Menu. This $100 culinary experience focuses on the season, and it involves 7 courses. The tasting menu changes each time, as it depends on which of the freshest market items are available. It’s always inventive, though, so everything is always new for you.
It’s held in the Brooklyn restaurant every Sunday at 6 PM, but you need to get a reservation well in advance. That’s because this is New York, and things like this can often attract hordes of fans. And here’s the kicker: the restaurant is BYOB.
Lots of restaurants in the country would like plenty of media attention and fans. But there’s a delight in knowing a secret that’s just hard to replicate. But don’t worry—now you’re in on the secret too!