Getting to grips with New York City and all it has to offer is a daunting task for a local, let alone a tourist.
That’s why two local writers keen to help visitors out decided to uncover a whole host of the Big Apple’s hidden attractions – 500 in all.
In The 500 Hidden Secrets of New York, Michiel Vos, and Ellen Swandiak dispense their insider knowledge, revealing everything from the best brunch spots to techniques for mingling with New Yorkers. Here MailOnline Travel picks out some of its favourite sections from the book, from hipster hotspots to sensational steakhouses.
Perfect pies: For some classic pizza with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge head to Juliana’s
There are few things New Yorkers take more seriously than pizza and there are plenty of places to get your pie fix.
Just don’t utter the words ‘deep dish’.
Few NY pizza places are more beloved than Roberta’s in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, says Hidden Secrets, which serves up its fare on picnic tables. The original Roberta’s pizza dough recipe is what makes the best pizza and the hype around this place.
For some classic pizza with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge head to Juliana’s, which has a family rivalry with Grimaldi’s – one of the city’s most famous pizza places – right next door.
Emmy Squared, pictured, serves ‘Detroit-style pizza with cheese baked right inside’, according to The 500 Hidden Secrets of New York
If you’re not a pizza purist then Emmy Squared may be more your jam, according to the guide.
The Williamsburg pizzeria serves ‘Detroit-style pizza with cheese baked right inside’, and the signature pie is topped with banana peppers and comes with a bowl of marinara sauce for dipping purposes.
Brunch is a must in New York, no matter how hungover you are from those Friday work drinks that spilled into the morning.
Freshen up at Rosemary’s, the guide recommends. It’s a Greenwich village gem where the dishes come straight from a garden on the roof above your head.
Bubby’s in TriBeCa, meanwhile, serves biscuits topped with ‘sausage, jalapeno, and eggs, or fried chicken,’ according to the guide.
If you prefer to have some hair of the dog, hit up Miss Lily’s in Soho or the East Village for bottomless drinks and Caribbean food that will make your heart sing.
‘Snack on the jerk corn topped with mayo and toasted coconut, hot pepper shrimp, or grilled branzino in scotch bonnet brown butter,’ the guide recommends.
Delmonico’s opened in 1837 and quickly became famous for the Delmonico steak – ‘a juicy cut of rib eye served with a single onion ring on top’
When you ask ‘Where’s the beef?’ in New York City, you’ll likely get pointed to the Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn, which has been named the best NYC steakhouse by the Zagat survey for the last 30 years in a row.
But there are plenty of other secret gems in the Big Apple to get your fill of filet mignon, sirloin, or T-bone steak, Hidden Secrets says.
It recommends Keens Steakhouse in Midtown, which was opened in 1885 and Delmonico’s in the Financial District, which is even older than Keens. This steakhouse opened in 1837 and quickly became famous for the Delmonico steak – ‘a juicy cut of rib eye served with a single onion ring on top’.
If you’re hoping for something a little more modern, Hidden Secrets recommends heading to American Cut in the swanky TriBeCa neighborhood, where patrons can order premium Japanese steaks and have their meat topped with foie gras.
The Sons of Essex is ‘basically a night club with food’ that attracts the occasional celebrity
The best hipster hangouts in the city include Sons of Essex, which the guide describes as ‘basically a night club with food’.
People dress to the nines for a night out here, and there are often DJ sets and ‘occasional celebrity drop-ins’.
You can find the opposite vibe at nearby Freemans, which has transformed itself into a ‘colonial American tavern’.
There’s taxidermy on the walls and an all-American menu that includes a whole grilled trout and tomahawk steak.
No tour of the city’s hipster haunts would be complete without visiting Williamsburg itself, where you’ll happen on Diner, a restaurant inside a Pullman car from the 1920s underneath the Williamsburg bridge.
If you prefer your meat between two buns, New York City is filled with juicy burgers that will satisfy any beef lover, as Hidden Secrets reveals.
Head to The Spotted Pig in the West Village if you like your burger with a side of swank and luxury, the guide says. While the restaurant recently lost its long-held Michelin Star, 500 Secrets still calls it ‘the best burger we ever had in New York’.
‘So damn the French, and just order it,’ the guide advises.
And if you like a really inventive burger, 500 Secrets recommends taking Via Carota for a spin.
This West Village Italian eatery offers a hand-chopped grass-fed steak you definitely won’t find anywhere else. ‘Served sans bun, it is charred on two sides and red in the middle. Strictly for meat loving purists,’ the guide warns.
The Brooklyn Winery Wine Bar, pictured, is one of only two full-fledged winemaking facilities in the City. The winery produces about 20 varieties
There are plenty of options for oenophiles in the Big Apple including East Village’s Lois, the first place in New York City to only offer wine on tap.
‘Their wines are available by the glass or carafe for a nice price – not bottling the wine cuts costs and the savings are passed on to you,’ Hidden Secrets reveals.
For those who like their wine to come with bubbles head to Greenwich Village’s Special Club, where you can experience ‘the sparkling world of flavors’ with ‘accents of lemon zest, toasted brioche, plums, or flowers’ with the help of a sommelier.
Or take a trip to the Brooklyn Winery Wine Bar, one of only two full-fledged winemaking facilities in the City.
The winery produces about 20 varieties, and sells flights allowing you to sample three different varietals like ‘the NY State Trio’ or ‘Chardonnay 3 Ways’.
If you’re strolling through the streets of Noho stop by La Colombe Torrefaction, pictured, where you can get latte on draft, Hidden Secrets reveals
One of La Colombe’s famous draft lattes being poured
While Starbucks may be on almost every corner, there are plenty of places where you can fuel up without ever having to utter the word ‘venti’ when you order.
If you’re strolling through the streets of Noho stop by La Colombe Torrefaction, where you can get latte on draft, Hidden Secrets reveals.
And you can drink your coffee in the very place where the beans were roasted at the Brooklyn Roasting Company, which serves cups of coffee alongside a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Or head to one of Joe Coffee‘s 10 locations in the city, where Hidden Secrets promises ‘the art of coffee is taken seriously’.
Joe roasts all of its single-origin and blended offerings and trains it staff to be ‘proper baristas’, according to the guide.
Attaboy – where you will find no sign or menu outside the steel front door, just the letters ‘AB’ and a buzzer
There are a number of NYC bars offering a unique cocktail experience – such as Attaboy, where you will find no sign or menu outside the steel front door, just the letters ‘AB’ and a buzzer.
There’s something for everyone at Suffolk Arms, meanwhile, another Lower East Side establishment where there are 100 cocktails on the happy hour menu.
The place is run by veteran mixologist Giuseppe Golzalez and, according to Hidden Secrets, takes a page from the ‘British pubs of yore’. ‘Cocktails have been heavily researched and they are presented with personality in unapologetic, NYC style,’ it promises.
If you want to share a space once filled with legends like Frank Sinatra and Madonna, than East Village haunt Holiday Cocktail Lounge is your kind of place.
‘The cocktails are cultivated by brothers Michael and Danny Neff, who are committed to honoring its gritty, celebrity-studded past,’ according to the guide.
For gorgeous views head over to the B Bar at the Baccarat Hotel where you can get your fill of crystal chandeliers inside and sparkling lights in the outdoor terrace
Cocktails at the Baccarat Hotel (roof terrace pictured) are served in ‘iconic Baccarat cut crystal glassware’
For gorgeous views head over to the B Bar at the Baccarat Hotel where you can get your fill of crystal chandeliers inside and sparkling lights in the outdoor terrace.
The entire experience is made to feel luxe, with cocktails served in ‘iconic Baccarat cut crystal glassware’, according to the guide.
If you’re looking for an escape from the city splat in the middle of Manhattan, Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea may be more your style. The guide promises that this bar is a ‘lush escape from the city’ that is ‘decked out in greenery and backyard patio lights in summer, dolled up like a log cabin in winter’.
And if you’re just hoping for a historical hotel visit, head over to King Cole Bar at the St Regis Hotel in Midtown where you can see the ‘most exclusive table in New York’.
‘Here, the bags are Birkin, the faces lifted, and the bottle ordered should be Tattinger Comtes de Champagne 1075.’
At the 9th St Haberdashery Hidden Secrets promises you can find ‘all things that are pre-1960s and enjoy the vintage romance’
New York City has always been famous for its fashion, both new and old.
Skip Macy’s and check out some of the city’s incredible vintage shops like East Village’s the 9th St Haberdashery, where Hidden Secrets promises you can find ‘all things that are pre-1960s and enjoy the vintage romance’.
Head just a few blocks up to hit Stock Vintage, a go-to shop for movie sets that specializes in American workwear and hard-to-find military clothes.
If you’re looking for something a little more elegant, Shareen Vintage is a great way to find a unique dress for a special occasion.
‘Shareen is so hidden you would just pass it by, because it’s located on the second floor of a loft-like warehouse building. If you see a dress hanging off the fire escape, that means they’re open,’ the guide advises.
The Met can’t be missed on a trip to the city, and Hidden Secrets recommends seeking out the Panoramic View of the Palace and Garden of Versailles in this mammoth museum
You’ll never be at a loss to find amazing art in the Big Apple.
The Met can’t be missed on a trip to the city, and Hidden Secrets recommends seeking out the Panoramic View of the Palace and Garden of Versailles in this mammoth museum.
If you want something a little different head to the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum, where you can take a guided tour of the very building where 7,000 immigrants once passed through, which has been ‘staged to look exactly the way it did when the immigrants lived there’.
Or walk over to the nearby New Museum on Bowery, where Hidden Secrets claims you will see the work of emerging international artists before they make a big splash on the art scene.
If you’re looking to find the next hot trends, Hidden Secrets has listed some of the most forward-thinking boutiques in fashion.
At 3X1 Denim in Soho you can make custom-made jeans that will fit like a dream, while Sincerely Tommy in Bedford will help you find minimalist silhouettes from emerging local and global womenswear brands.
Head to Bird in Williamsburg to see one of the most beloved boutiques in Brooklyn, which is owned by a former buyer for Barney’s who is known for her ‘sophisticated eye’ and love of ‘expanding and collaborating with designers’.
Then hit up the nearby Catbird for all your jewelry needs. This boutique is known for ‘indie jewelry’ that is ‘meant to be personally expressed in stacks and layers’, according to the guide.
Grand Central Station , which opened in 1913, is a must-see for the famous Clock centered below the astronomical mural known as Sky Ceiling
New York City is packed with beautiful buildings. Some offer amazing views, some are packed with history, and some both.
Grand Central Station, which opened in 1913, is a must-see for the famous Clock centered below the astronomical mural known as Sky Ceiling.
Many New Yorkers will advise you to skip waiting in line for the Empire State Building and check out Rockefeller Center instead. 30 Rock houses NBC studios and is packed with fans in the morning hoping for a second of air-time on the Today Show. Or go up to the bar in the Rainbow Room for some incredible skyline views.
If you want to see something a little more modern head to New York By Gehry in the Financial District, which was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry and is one of the tallest residential skyscrapers in the world.
And no tour would be complete without taking in the views of the gorgeous Chrysler Building, which Hidden Secrets explains is famous for its ‘elegant and sublime Art Deco detailing’.
HOW TO MINGLE WITH NEW YORKERS
Head over to the parks at Washington Square, pictured, or Union Square to watch or play chess with those ‘who have made this a daily sport’, recommends Hidden Secrets
A stereotype has long existed that New Yorkers are rude, but take the time to sit with them and you’ll find that many have incredible stories they’re just waiting to tell.
Head over to the parks at Washington Square or Union Square to watch or play chess with those ‘who have made this a daily sport’, recommends Hidden Secrets.
One game will cost you $5, and the matches go quick – this is New York, of course.
If you’re traveling solo, be bold and dine at the bar instead of eating alone at a table. This way you’ll get to mingle with the locals, and it’s a chance to dine at some of the most booked restaurants in the city.
‘Most restaurants will allow you to set up shop at the bar, but some places encourage it, like: Cosme, Union Square Café, Acme, and Casa Mono,’ according to the guide.
HOW TO SEE NEW YORK FROM THE WATER
You can catch the breathtaking views no matter your budget, from walking over the Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridge to kayaking right on the Hudson River – for free
New York City may be famous for its architecture, but sometimes it’s even more beautiful just to look out at the water.
You can catch the breathtaking views no matter your budget, from walking over the Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridge to kayaking right on the Hudson River – for free.
If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, Hidden Secrets recommends the three-hour Bateaux New York Dinner Cruises.
‘It’s possible to reserve tables next to the windows so you can focus on the towering skyscrapers – and this boat has a glass roof so you can see from almost any spot,’ the guide reveals.
Want something with a little more funk? The Quiet Clubbing Cruise on Pier 83 lets you sail under the Brooklyn Bridge while tuning into one of three DJs during this silent disco.
NEW YORK RULES
Whether you’re born in New York or just wish you were, there are some tips and tricks residents have picked up along the way that Hidden Secrets is now sharing.
If you can’t find a cab and the surge prices for Uber and Lyft are eye-watering, you’re far better off downloading a taxi app like Arro or Curb.
‘Also good to know, when a taxi has its Off Duty sign lit, cabs can still pick you up if your destination is on the way home,’ the guide advises.
While New York is famed for its shops and boutiques, it’s the sample sales that are the real treats.
You can often get designer goods for a whopping 50 to 90 per cent off.
Hidden Secrets recommends checking Chicmi.com, which lists nearby sample sales, or 260samplesale.com.