HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Hidden Restaurants of Manhattan?

I love the hidden gems -- the tiny ethnic restaurants that are "hidden" and frequented by locals -- particularly the upstairs cafeterias or the basement "hole-in-the wall" places. My experience has been that, if you can find them, these restaurants are the most authentic with the very best food. What are your favorites? Any suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What about the ones that don't have the best food, but are still New York experiences.... still interested in those too just for the adventure?

    1 Reply
    1. In a way, "hidden" in Manhattan is almost (though not quite) an oxymoron, but you might consider this place:


      There are also Mexican shops like Tehuitzingo, which I have yet to go to, but which certainly is not "hidden" here on Chowhound.

      I suppose one could make an argument for taxi-stand Indian places here (I couldn't tell you which ones are the best of that lot), or maybe the Chinese "rice and 4 sides" places (ditto).

      And then there are also some places at the ends of alleys and stuff (such as one on the Lower East Side - French, I think), but I really couldn't tell you more, because I don't find places interesting merely because they can't be seen from other streets.

      If you really want to find places that are "hidden" in plain sight and totally off the tourist map, you might consider posting to "Outer Boroughs."

      1. Limon, a teensy, hole-in-the-wall Turkish restaurant, is hidden away on 24th St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs. (closer to 2nd). Not much in the way of decor, but the staff is friendly, and while I wouldn't say they serve "the very best food," it is nicely-prepared and quite tasty.

        1. There's the Spanish place La Nacional in the Spanish Benevolent Society, the dairy blintzes place midtown, Cafe El Portal for Mexican on Elizabeth, Lazzara's Pizza... not sure if the semi-private bar in National Arts Club is still running, .... I think this is the kind of thing you're looking for right?

          3 Replies
          1. re: sugartoof

            Diamond Dairy on 47th is the place I was thinking.

            1. re: sugartoof

              In the same neighborhood, Taam Tov.

            2. The restaurant in the Ukranian National Home is a match. It's ethnic, hidden, and in a basement. It's also very good for it's type.



              3 Replies
              1. re: Bob Martinez

                I ate a lovely meal at The Ukrainian Home Restaurant more than once--great fruit drink--great blintzes and homemade rice pudding. Yum--planning to go again this week. It is out of the way and nice.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  That's a good one. Ukranian National Home also offers Tango dancing nights.

                  There used to be a bar called Void in Soho that involved buzzing into a commercial office building and than walking downstairs, and there was a 2nd floor walk up Bulgarian restaurant and weekly disco at Broadway and Canal. There used to also be a Persian carpet store that had food service.

                  Not totally hidden, but Cupcake Cafe is in a children's bookstore.
                  The Dressing Room bar and boutique is like it sounds, a bar inside a boutique.
                  Khiels flagship store has a Mudd coffee bar in it now.
                  Bloomingdales has Martine's Chocolates.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    It's on the ground floor, not the basement, but it is in the back. I didn't think of it as hidden, but you're right: It's not as obvious as Veselka, which is on the corner in plain sight - and it's better.

                  2. Saigon on Mott Street -- for banh mi; located at the back of a jewelry store
                    Diamond Dairy -- kosher lunch place located on top of a jewelry store
                    Kalustayan's -- small eats place located on top of the store in Curry Hill

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      What's the name of that sake bar that is the basement of an office building - across from Yasuda? I always forget ....

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Oh, yes! That's a good one -- Sakagura.

                      2. re: Miss Needle

                        Banh Mi Saigon - great point. Great sandwiches!

                      3. Norwegian Seaman's Church lunch buffet on Wednesdays? E. 52nd btw 1st and 2nd

                        1. okay, how about village yokocho - that is upstairs and pretty much hidden.
                          Also, here's some help

                          Angels Share, PDT,
                          how about burger joint in the parker meridian hotel
                          Vol de Nuit

                          I am so intrigued by this type of stuff.

                          1. Bon Chon at 32nd & 5th could fit that description. It's not "unkown," at least on this board, but it is one of the very best, imho, fried chicken joints in the city.

                            1. I think Shopsin's would qualify here. I have never eaten there but I went one day in the Essex market to only find it closed =(! I have also heard piece of chicken is great.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: steakrules85

                                Piece of Chicken is great for the price otherwise it's not that good.

                              2. PDT ("hidden" bar)
                                Death & Co
                                Tailor (not exactly hidden but in a weird location on a block with very little foot traffic)
                                Kuma Inn (if you don't know it's upstairs you can totally miss it)
                                Degustation (it really doesn't have obvious signage either)
                                Freemans (at the end of an alley)
                                Bespoke Chocolates (also at the end of an alley)
                                Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen (limited hours, tiny basement space)
                                La Esquina (but I guess everybody knows about this bar now)
                                Milk & Honey (bar, ditto)
                                Pegu Club (if you didn't know you should open the door and go upstairs, you could literally pass by it)
                                Decibel (sake bar, tiny tiny sign by the gate)
                                Kyo Ya (Japanese, in the basement, also a small sign by the gate, no obvious signage)
                                Chocolat Michel Cluizel (inside ABC Carpet and Home)
                                Sake Bar Hagi (basement level izakaya)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Ah yes, Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen. You can't get more hole in the wall or authentic than this place. The food is made fresh every Friday by older Ukrainian ladies who are parishioners of St. George's church (all proceeds go to the church) I go ever weekend for varenyky and borsht. It's only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon and located in a basement on 7th st between 2nd and 3rd.

                                2. Cho Cho San on 8th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues is amazing sushi. It used to be Taste of Tokyo on 13th Street, and they have the most amazing Spicy Tuna salad. And everything else is incredible, fresh and reasonable. It's definitely a hidden gem.