New York has some classic attractions and restaurants— from Times Square to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. What you don’t want to miss out on, however, are the various hidden gems within the expansive city. Keep reading for the must-visit places that only the locals know about.
1. The Elevated Acre
40 feet above the streets of New York City’s Financial District sits a secret meadow. Though it’s available for public access, it’s often empty as it’s hard to find. You can enter this one-acre oasis by taking an elevator up from 55 Water Street. The area has a restaurant, amphitheater, and a summer beer garden. With flower-lined pathways and a gorgeous view of the city, you’ll never want to leave!
2. El Sabroso
Blink and you’ll miss it: this bite-sized luncheonette is quietly tucked between a coffee shop and a bar in Midtown South. With signage almost as small as the shop itself, El Sabroso is definitely considered a hidden gem. Once you open the door, you’ll see a small counter with minimal seating and a slight open kitchen behind it— and that’s it. Though it be but little, it is extraordinary, serving cheap yet appetizing Ecuadorian food to locals on their lunch break.
This ’70s themed diner and dive bar is one of New York’s newest features, having opened during the pandemic. An assortment of unique cocktails, bold beers, and housemade whiskey shots appear on the menu. These eclectic drinks are accompanied by a deliciously chaotic menu that boats flavourful twists on diner fare, like a vegan “tuna” melt and four types of wild tater tots. On the weekends, Bandits offers an elaborate brunch menu, with various types of their version of a Bloody Mary alongside a slew of mouthwatering meals. This West Village watering hole also features fun events, from Drag Karaoke to a ’70s Wrestle Mania night.
4. The Little Shop
On a street lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars, there stands a small convenience store aptly named The Little Shop. It’s a great place to pick up some essentials— and then relax with a specialty cocktail. Behind one of the shelves in The Little Shop is the rest of the building: an intimate bar with a charming vibe and no shortage of drinks. While the venue doesn’t technically serve any food in the evenings, any snacks you buy from the convenience store side of it will be plated for you upon request. If you’re feeling like less of a bar vibe and more of an eatery energy, you can swing by The Little Shop for brunch.
5. Paley Park
Step out of the city and into this pocket park in Midtown East. Thanks to the 20 foot waterfall that stretches along the back of the park, you can hardly hear the noise of the city after entering this peaceful abode. Rows of ivy drape from the walls surrounding the park, giving visitors a reprieve from industrialism. The park is covered by a canopy of honey locust trees that allow just enough sunlight to sneak through without exposing this little oasis to the city. With an assortment of seating options within the park and a chill vibe, this is the perfect place to have lunch or get some reading done.
6. Cheeky’s Sandwiches
Get a taste of New Orleans at this Lower East Side sandwichery. This funky hole-in-the-wall features classic sandwiches from the Crescent City, called po’boys. The sandwiches have a slew of fillings, ranging from a half-shrimp half-oyster combination to a delightful honey butternut squash mash, but the one constant is that they all have the same outside: crackly, airy, authentic New Orleans bread shipped from a bakery in the Louisiana city. Between the diverse sandwich selection, the rotating selection of beverages, and the delicious bread pudding, you’ll want to come here at least twice.
7. Saint Tuesday
Hanging out in a Chinatown alleyway may not be your first choice of how you want to spend your evening, but trust me— it’s worth it. Once you open the door in the alleyway marked S & T, you’ll follow the faint sound of jazz music down two flights of stairs. There, you’ll find the bar: a lively, late 18th century-style locale with swanky marble bars and tables lit by warm candlelight. The menu offers a wide range of simple cocktails and twists on old classics, with the venue’s website encouraging guests to be adventurous and allow the bartenders to make them custom drinks.
8. Bode Tailor Shop
If you’re looking for a place to get some clothes tailored, look no further than Bode Tailor Shop. Or, if you’re in search of delicious cardamom-infused coffee, Bode Tailor Shop remains the place to be. This tiny tailor shop stands next to the flagship Bode store, a unique menswear brand with pieces made from historical fabrics and textiles. At Bode tailor shop, you can get Bode-brand and non-Bode-brand clothing altered and repaired, and grab an Indian-inspired coffee served out of the walk-up window. Besides their staple coffee, they also offer tea and a collection of Indian sweets.