the best hidden gems in nyc
there is something alluring about trying to find the entrances to these concealed establishments.
Published Feb 8, 2016 5:00 AM
Alright, so you’ve already tried Please Don’t Tell and Death & Co. in the East Village, and The Raines Law Room in Midtown, but thankfully NYC is filled with dozens of hidden bars, restaurants, and even vintage shops.
Here’s a list of our top 20 hidden gems in NYC.
bathtub gin Hidden behind a storefront for the Stone Street Coffee Company in Chelsea, this pseudo-Victorian speakeasy offers eclectic $15 gin cocktails, far too much damask wallpaper, and a copper bathtub as the bar’s centerpiece — perfect for drunken photos or a stylishdecor Instagram
Although this 9th Avenue bar accepts walk-ins, reservations are highly recommended, especially on the weekends, and during the special burlesque performances every Sunday and Tuesday night.
the back room Not to be confused with The Back Room at the Hyatt in Midtown, this Lower East Side bar is one of the best. The bar claims to be one of only two speakeasies in NYC to have operated through the Prohibition Era. The hidden entrance is the same as the one used over 80 years ago by movie stars and notorious gangsters alike. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you spot a closed-down toy store.
In addition to the ambiance and history surrounding The Back Room, this speakeasy serves beer in paper bags and cocktails in teacups to add to the experience. There is also rumored to be a hidden room behind a bookshelf somewhere in the unique bar.
virgolausa Although Virgolausa has several locations throughout NYC, their Greenwich Village restaurant is literally hidden amongst the walls. Squished between two brick exteriors in a petite alleyway, this eatery can easily be overlooked — especially when the cast iron gates are half closed.
The Italian oyster and wine bar is no more than six feet wide, but offers diners some of the best seafood in Manhattan. Literally a hole-in-the-wall, be on the lookout for this restaurant or you just might miss it.
mulberry project The entrance to this underground speakeasy in Little Italy is by far one of the shadiest. Hidden beneath a cheap handbag shop the only sign that you’re in the right spot is a unmarked red door. Inside, the bar is covered in brightly colored street art — an homage to NYC’s renegade culture.
While the food here is quite delicious, it’s the customized cocktails that keep you coming back. Choose from a list of 20+ ingredients, give your bartender your desired taste (read: sweet, spicy, sour), and watch as they make you your very own drink.
apotheke Born out of an admiration for both the history of apothecaries in Europe and the “artistic influence of absinthe dens,” Apotheke is the ultimate speakeasy experience. To make things even more amazing, every Wednesday there is live jazz and burlesque dances to transport you back to the Roaring ‘20s.
As for the “prescriptions,” as the cocktails are so cleverly named, each drink is sorted into a category based on its ingredients — such as stimulants, painkillers, and aphrodisiacs. You’ll deserve a few of these delicious creations after struggling to find both the bar and the street on which it resides.
community 54 This secret mens street-wear store is disguised as an arcade. If you walk through the fully functioning photo booth you will find this hidden store. This Avenue B hideaway also offers an outdoor event space that has been decorated by graffiti artists from around the world. The space once played host to Soulja Boy and A$AP Rocky.
At Community 54 you will find tons of limited edition mens clothes, a few vintage knick knacks, and colorful sneaks that you’ll absolutely have to add to your collection. It’s an arcade, shop, art gallery, and concert venue all in one.
beauty & essex Perhaps one of the more famous hidden restaurants in NYC, celebrities, Instagram stars, and the who’s-who of the media industry have all dined here. This bi-level space hides behind a retro pawn shop (complete with vintage guitars) and doesn’t fail to impress with its grand, ultra-glam decor. There’s even free champagne in the women’s restroom.
blind barber Pass through an operational barbershop to find this hidden bar, although we definitely recommend having a reservation, especially on the weekend. This speakeasy has three locations: NYC, Brooklyn, and LA — all equally amazing. Of course, if you’re not in the mood for a dance-vibe, you can always get a complimentary beverage with every haircut.
shareen vintage A red formal dress hangs from the fire escape at 12 West 17th Street in Manhattan — the only sign that a girl’s only vintage store is open for business. The “totally New York” store is a community built by women for women. Ladies can change just about anywhere and provide helpful (courteous!) feedback on the clothes to each other.
A major plus is that the storeowners serve wine in the evenings while guests peruse through a variety of vintage finds. And note — there are no boys allowed! Ever! Any male guests will be forced to sit outside and wait for their female friends to finish shopping.
hotel delmano This Williamsburg bar is one for the books. An otherwise dreary exterior acts hides a gorgeous speakeasy that hides inside. Although not an actual hotel, the interior of the bar was inspired by hotel lobbies around the world. With tons of marble, stained wood, and chic industrial plaster, Hotel Delmano has an unusually romantic aura — a perfect place to end a great date.
saturday’s surf nyc This SoHo gem looks like a beach-friendly mens apparel store, and for the most part it is. But, if you walk deep enough back you will find an in-store, fully functioning coffee shop. If that doesn’t have you running to this adorable surf shop, perhaps the gorgeous outdoor garden with dozens of plants and reclaimed wood accents will. Oh, and it’s super Instagrammable.
angel’s share This Japanese speakeasy is one-of-a-kind in Manhattan. Located on Stuyvesant Square, the bar is hidden behind an unmarked door inside Japanese restaurant Yokocho. Rated the second best cocktail bar in America by GQ Magazine in 2010, this speakeasy is one of the greatest places to take your friends for a night out on the town. Note that groups of 4 or more will not be allowed entry into the secret bar.
lantern’s keep Hidden inside the Iroquois Hotel on 44th Street is the stunning Lantern’s Keep. Seemingly modeled after a French salon, there are marble tables, pale blue chairs, and beautiful artworks decorating Lantern’s Keep. Ask anyone who has found this gem and they will agree — this bar has some of the best cocktails in Manhattan. A quick way to check whether or not the bar is open as you pass by is to see if the small lantern on the hotel’s exterior is lit — a creative alternative to an “OPEN” sign.
the campbell apartment Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of Grand Central station is the luxurious Campbell Apartment. Originally the office and salon for ‘20s mogul John W. Campbell, the bar has been completely refurbished, reviving the atmosphere (and furniture!) from the 1920s.
In accordance with the theme of the bar, The Campbell Apartment institutes a strict dress code — there are no athletic shoes, t-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps or torn jeans allowed whatsoever. Violators will not be allowed into the establishment.
bar centrale Next door to Joe Allen’s on 46th Street, Bar Centrale is known to many as the watering hole for Broadway’s best. The speakeasy is concealed inside a Victorian brownstone, forcing you to climb stairs and open heavy wooden doors to gain entrance. As luxurious as it is wonderful, we recommend having a reservation, especially if you plan on going after a Broadway show lets out.
st. mazie St. Mazie is a popular spot for Williamsburg residents to grab a drink after a long day in the city. But, few of them know of the hidden dining room in the cellar of the establishment. Known as the St. Charles Cellar Restaurant, this spot was a speakeasy and gambling den during the Prohibition. Restored to its original condition, the restaurant boasts vintage wooden tables, carved stone walls and antique lamps to give the eatery an authentic ambiance.
fig. 19 Hidden inside an art gallery on the Lower East Side is Fig. 19 — a stunning, chandelier filled speakeasy. With Prosecco on tap and decadent $13 cocktails, this spot can easily become a late-night favorite (the bar is open until 4am most nights). If you need a drink recommendation, try the Prince: a vodka cocktail with lavender syrup, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice. Trust us, it’s amazing.
gallow green On the rooftop of the McKittrick Hotel — known for it’s interactive theater experience Sleep No More — is Gallow Green. A stunning outdoor bar with tons of greenery, this is the perfect hidden spot to grab a drink before the show. While many people know Gallow Green is only open during the spring and summer, few people know that the bar is transformed during the winter months into The Lodge. Inspired by a winter hideaway, the bar is draped in plaid and filled with tons of plush sofas and chairs to relax on while you enjoy a mug of warm, spiced, alcohol-filled cider.
luksus Luksus is a Michelin star restaurant concealed behind Tørst in Greenpoint. A bit pricey, this hidden gem is known for it’s beer pairings with Nordic-inspired dishes. Reservations are required for this petite establishment, but it’s well worth it to try the seasonal menu. The best part? The restaurant can accommodate vegetarians (if you let them know ahead of time).
attaboy Created by bartenders from the famed Milk & Honey, Attaboy keeps the spirit of a speakeasy with it’s hard to find entrance and snazzy decor. Located at Milk & Honey’s original spot on Eldridge Street, the bar stands as an homage to a beloved (and now lost) NYC bar. Behind an unmarked steel door lies a petite, but wonderful establishment. There is no menu and it can be difficult to get in past 9pm, but Attaboy is definitely worth a visit.