New York City. Big buildings, bright lights and an overwhelming feeling of being a mouse in a maze. When you first experience New York, it completely dazzles you. It’s only once the glamour has started to fade and you’ve gone off the beaten path that you can truly begin to appreciate New York for what it really is: a breeding ground of culinary prowess.
So here are a few places you will never find a tourist, just good food and good times to be had, 10 little known restaurants in NYC.
10: Wo Hop: You’ll find this gem on a small street right in the middle of Chinatown. It’s your basic Chinese restaurant, though the menu is more extensive than most. Although the staff doesn’t speak much English, they serve you hot tea with a smile and are always close at hand, should you need more soy sauce or extra chopsticks. It’s better than the Chinese food you can get around the corner as it’s delicious but won’t leave you feeling so heavy. The same, however, can’t be said for your wallet.
9: Grimaldi’s: The home of the most delicious pizza in Brooklyn. Located in one of the hippest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it’s a little taste of Italy, right in DUMBO. Admittedly, the prices are slightly steep for pizza but the thin crust and fresh toppings are worth it. Still not a believer? Ask the New Yorkers who stand in the line outside, waiting for a seat.
8: Naruto Ramen: On a busy street in Park Slope is, quite possibly, the mother of all Japanese anime theme restaurants. Fans of the anime “Naruto” will definitely love this place as the décor, staff and even the food are all reminiscent of the cartoon. For people who aren’t “Naruto” fans, it’s just a quiet and affordable Japanese noodle bar that serves generous portions of chicken curry and Ramen with a twist. But is that ever a bad thing?
7: Max Caffe: Nestled on a corner in south Harlem, down the street from Columbia University is a little café that feels like home. It’s a small spot, stuffed with tables, chairs and couches that give it the cluttered but comfortable feel of being at a grandparents’ house and additional outdoor seating for when the weather breaks and there’s no room on the couch. The menu doesn’t brag as much as other Italian restaurants as it’s more of a spot where students pile in on their breaks to enjoy a snack and finish some work but the coffee is good, the Panini’s are delicious and the service is great. If the atmosphere doesn’t make you feel at home, the wait staff will certainly do the job.
6: Laut: A taste of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand right in the middle of Union Square. It’s a small place, but usually filled with people piling in for the delicious wok-fried noodles and Thai iced tea. Most go to escape the insane food prices of its neighbors that come with the Union Square address but return for the extensive menu and friendly service. With such a central location in the city, it’s definitely worth a visit.
5: Matilda: On a sunny, tree-lined street in Alphabet City, you’ll find a girl named Matilda. She will most likely be in a restaurant, also named Matilda, where her mom is manning the bar and her dad is carrying hot plates, fresh out of the kitchen. You only have to eat there once to feel like part of their little family. This restaurant is small, but also has additional outdoor seating and a bar where you can eat alone or chat with friendly strangers. Their Mexican/Italian fusion is one of a kind. Their menu brags items you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the city.
4: Sea: Located in Williamsburg, this Thai restaurant almost resembles a club with its dim lighting, loud music and chic décor, including, but not limited to a dramatic Buddha statue in the center of the room. However, the menu is filled with mouthwatering delights that are almost literally dirt cheap. If you’re not really feeling the club-like atmosphere, you can always head uptown to their location in the Meatpacking District for something a little quieter.
3: DuMont Burger: Right in the middle of Williamsburg, not far from the bridge is a burger joint unlike most others. DuMont Burger is a full bar, with the only tabled seating outside on the sidewalk. The inside is small and dark, not much on the eyes but the bartender is friendly and they definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to burgers. You can choose your toppings and have it any way you like it. If that’s not enough, their Boozy Shakes are sure to take the edge off.
2: Essex: You might go one night for the half priced drinks during happy hour or the free oysters they serve all night. You will definitely stay for the fried calamari, tuna sushi spring rolls and roasted duck. This Lower East Side gem knows what good food is all about. The low lighting and lounge-like décor make this the perfect place to rendezvous with friends after work for a few drinks. If the food doesn’t keep you coming back, the flavored martinis will do the trick.
1: Alma: Located on a quiet street in Carroll Gardens, right above B61 Bar (so named for the bus that goes down Columbia street), is Alma. Their traditional Mexican fare is only second to the view that accompanies it. You can opt to dine inside or have a few drinks at the bar while you wait for a table in their rooftop dining area. The food is way past affordable and the view of the Manhattan skyline over the East River is worth the wait.