Hidden Gems, New York, Kuma Inn, Chef King Phojanakong, Manh Mi Saigon Bakery, Bohemian, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown, Lower East Side, Sushi UO, Chef Ivy Stark, Burger Joint, Parker Meridean Hotel, Chef Chris Santos, The Stanton Social, Kuma Inn, Umi Nom, Dos Caminos, Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery, Mexican, Midtown, Hell's Kitchen, PDT, Please Don't Tell, Angel's Share, St. Mark's Place, Chef Jason Hall, Gotham Bar and Grill, Japanese, Izakaya, Asian, Tapas, Japanese, Burger, American, Mexican, Cocktails, Where are the hidden joints in New York, New York's Hidden Restaurants and Bars, Hidden Gems



When Chef King Phanojanakong opened up Kuma Inn on the second floor of a former tenement building on the Lower East Side, it was a financial decision. The walk-up space was affordable and he figured if things didn’t work out, he could convert the apartment-turned-restaurant back into an apartment. So, he put a standing chalk board on the sidewalk, fired up the stove and waited for the customers to arrive. It worked. His peeling-paint entrance may not be the most grand, but it definitely adds to the appeal. Now plan on booking in advance if you want to score a table.


When we asked Chef King Phanojanakong about his favorite off-the-beaten track places to eat, he cited Banh Mi Saigon. At the crossroads of Little Italy and Chinatown, this Vietnamese sandwich shop operates from the back of a jewelry store. Cases of bangles and earrings in the front, woman packing pork and cilantro into baguettes in the back. They are slated to move to a new location in May 2010.


If you didn’t have the address, you’d never know it was there. Nothing indicates that there is a sleek sushi restaurant on the second floor of this Lower East Side apartment building. Chef Ivy Stark of Dos Caminos chooses Sushi UO for a place she would take an adventurous eater. She says “it’s for someone who wants to go beyond California Rolls.”


Part of the seduction for Bohemian is that you really feel like you’re inside an exclusive clubhouse. This Japanese izakaya is located behind an East Village butcher shop on Great Jones Street. Down a back alley, the room is small, chic, and definitely off the grid. The property was once owned by Andy Warhol and served as the home and atelier of Jean-Michel Basquiat. They’d rather we didn’t tell you about it and they definitely don’t want you to know their phone number.


The Stanton Social chef Chris Santos likes to turn people onto the Burger Joint. Chef Bill Telepan loves their burgers. It’s tucked behind a curtain in the lobby of the Parker Meridien Hotel in Midtown, in-between two check-in desks, down a narrow hall, with a small neon burger sign at the door. Despite it’s hidden entrance, it is family friendly.


Appearances can be deceptive. You could walk by this Hell’s Kitchen deli a thousand times and never know they were serving outstanding authentic Mexican tacos, tortas, and quesadillas out of a tiny window in the back of the bodega. Grab a Negra Modelo beer out of the refrigerator case and relax on a stool under the hanging (year-round) Christmas lights. The deli is run by a Mexican family who stock the front grocery shelves with imported goods like fresh cactus, bottles of huitlacoche, and South American canned foods.

PDT (Please Don’t Tell)

When PDT opened, the speakeasy entrance and secret phone number matched the name. Well, not talking about it really didn’t work out. People couldn’t keep their mouths shut when it came to telling friends they entered the bar through an old wooden phone booth inside a hot dog place called Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place. Gotham Bar & Grill chef Jason Hall loves going there for cocktails.


The other cocktail den Gotham Bar and Grill chef Jason Hall likes to hit is one of the granddaddies of stealthy entrances, Angel’s Share on East Ninth Street in the East Village. To get there, you head up the stairs in the adjacent building to Sunrise Market, the Japanese grocery store. You’ll end up inside a brightly lit Japanese restaurant. Make a u-turn for the masked entrance to Angel’s Share. 

Jason’s favorite drink is The Groovy - citrus, yuzu and shiso.