New York City is already a mecca for foodies, but there are still many incredible spots that have yet to be discovered. Whether you’re in search of pop-up dinners, hidden bars, or meals held in secret locations, you can easily find interesting experiences if you know where to look.
We recently spoke to food documentarian Liza De Guia and chef Russell Jackson, who’s noted for his work in the underground dining world. The pair are currently hosting a Bravo original digital series called “Going Off the Menu“, which explores the best of Los Angeles’ exclusive and underground culinary scene.
We asked De Guia and Jackson about their favourite underground dining spots in New York, from the swankiest supper clubs to the best invite-only dinner events. Whether you’re a fan of flaky Danish sweets or incredibly fresh ceviche, these hidden gems have got your cravings covered.
'All I can tell you is that these pastries have fast become my weakness,' De Guia says of Meyers Bageri.
Run by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer, the pop-up bakery operates out of Margo Patisserie in Brooklyn and serves everything from 'intricately braided cinnamon swirls' and marzipan-stuffed croissants to wild blueberry danishes.
Head there on Saturdays, when the treats are served, 'to delight your sweet tooth with what I believe are the best pastries in NYC,' De Guia said.
'This might be SoHo's best-kept under-the-radar secret,' De Guia says of the off-the-menu burger served at Raoul's.
The bar-only burger is ideal for steak lovers, with a combination of tender brisket meat and peppercorns that are topped with melted cheese, watercress, and cornichons.
That's not even the best part, according to De Guia. 'What makes the burger is the bowl of au poivre dipping sauce that the bartender insists you use French dip-style,' she said.
They only make 12 of these juicy burgers a day (except for weekend brunches), so make sure to get there early.
'For hangover elixirs and all-natural cure-alls in a glass, I head to this groovy, bright and welcoming, stay-as-long-as-you-like counter tucked into a forgotten little corner of Chinatown,' De Guia said.
The tiny counter she's referring to is Stanley's Pharmacy, a playful creation by pharmacist Stanley George.
George, who used to be a pharmacist to celebrities in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, has turned the shop into a hangout for the chic, with a variety of herbal teas, artisanal sodas, and tonics to cure everything from headaches and hangovers to insomnia and sinus infections.
The Bronx Pipe Smoking Society Small Game Dinner is an annual event hosted by the Bronx's culinary ambassador, Baron Ambrosia.
The invitation-only event has become one of the most exclusive culinary experiences in town, and it has one of the most eclectic menus you'll find anywhere.
Past dishes have included everything from beaver tacos and cricket brie sushi to muskrat and skunk-spiked cocktails.
One of Jackson's own creations, SubCulture Dining originally started in San Francisco but now also operates in both New York and Los Angeles.
Dubbed a 'quintessential underground dining experience' by Jackson, the exclusive dining experience involves intimate gatherings in secret locations.
You'll need to apply for a membership to be able to join a meal, and you won't be notified of its location until a few hours before it starts. You might be given a password or an ingredient required to unlock the door to the venue, or 'you might be required to jump from an aeroplane to get to the dinner table,' Jackson said.
They also have monthly pop-ups that you can stay updated on by either signing up for their email list or following their social media accounts.
I Forgot It's Wednesday is a supper club that was created to make the experience of a meal as crucial as the food itself.
'They specialize in serving great good with a curated crowd and cocktails to inspire people to connect at the dinner table, the way Julia Child intended us too,' Jackson said.
Dinner includes a seven-course selection paired with a four-course cocktail flight. Menus change on a monthly basis, and they can include dishes like roasted coriander short rib and Japanese yam gnocchi.
The supper club originally ran on Wednesday nights -- hence the name -- but now operates on Saturdays.
If you're looking for a refreshing bite to eat, Ceviche Summer is your answer. This pop-up restaurant serves Puerto Vallarta-style ceviche at parks and events in Brooklyn and Queens.
Operated by chefs Chris Chavez and Chris Torres, who learned how to make the dishes from their families, the team makes it a point to keep their food fresh, local, and affordable.
Favourites include the spicy blend of bass, shrimp, veggies, and spices, or the traditional ceviche that's served with thick cuts of bass, locally grown vegetables, and lime served ice cold.
De Guia often recommends Bistro Petit's $100 tasting menu to anyone looking for an intimate and seasonally-focused culinary experience.
The restaurant, which is located in Brooklyn, hosts a seven-course tasting every Sunday at 6 p.m., but you'll need to make a reservation in advance, as they can often fill up quickly.
The tasting menu, prepared by Chef Sung Park, varies based on the freshest market items available, but De Guia says 'you'll try of-the-moment, inventive fusion dishes designed by a chef that loves rich flavours and artful plating.' The best part: the restaurant is BYOB.
When Sasha Petraska, owner of the famous Manhattan speakeasy Milk & Honey, died in August of 2015, his partners Lucinda Sterling and John Bonsignore set out to construct the bar he had planned to unveil in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Today, Seaborne is a cosy hideout with exposed brick walls, booths, stainless steel tabletops, and eclectic drinks.
According to De Guia, the dimly-lit speakeasy is a great place to impress a date, especially in comparison to the busy restaurants and shops that line Red Hook's Van Brunt Street.
Folie is a pop-up dinner event created by Chef Yvan Lemonie -- the chef de cuisine of Bodega Negra and the Dream Hotel -- and his partner, Rebecca Sussman.
'Think of a memorable family dinner at a fine dining French restaurant, where you feel you should wear a suit and actually want to dress up to impress,' Jackson says of Folie.
The French-inspired gem includes dishes like crispy chicken served with succotash and corn Hollandaise.