Secret NYC Menu Items You Desperately Need to Know About

New York

Secret NYC Menu Items You Desperately Need to Know About
Secret NYC Menu Items You Desperately Need to Know About

Courtesy of Dirt Candy
Courtesy of Dirt Candy

It’s no secret that some of the best dishes at NYC restaurants aren’t found on the menu. These special-request, unlisted items are created by chefs exclusively for diners in the know. All you have to do is ask, and you shall receive. But what exactly should you be asking for? These 15 best off-menu eats that you can score right now -- from badass burgers to over-the-top pizzas to specialties from the sea.


Parsnip ice cream sundae

Dirt Candy

Address and Info


This popular veggie-focused restaurant offers a brand-new weekend brunch service. And now you can cap off your late-morning meal with this secret off-menu sundae: a scoop of refreshing parsnip ice cream topped with tangy raspberry sauce and a crunchy black sesame seed crumble.

Courtesy of American Cut

In-house burger

American Cut

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Marc Forgione's modern steakhouse delivers the ultimate crafted-in-house burger: a prime brisket, short rib, and dry-aged ribeye blended patty covered in bourbon caramelized onions and Brooklyn lager beer cheese, on a sesame seed soft roll. A daily tweet (@AmericanCut) at 4:20pm details how many of these juicy burger bombs (usually no more than 15) will be served at the bar each night.

Courtesy of Seamore’s

Fish & chips


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Michael Chernow proves he can sling more than just great balls at his Montauk-inspired sustainable seafood spot, where you can reel in this off-menu riff on classic fish & chips, featuring crispy Atlantic pollock with Seamore's signature tartar sauce, hot spiked malt vinegar, and smashed Russian fingerling potatoes. You can also grab 'em “Off The Hook” -- boxed to-go at the takeout window from 3-5pm & 10pm-midnight. 

Courtesy of Marta

Stracciatella pizza


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This Roman-style pizzeria from power duo Danny Meyer and Chef Nick Anderer (of Maialino) serves some of New York’s tastiest pies. The ultra-thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas range from simple to specialty -- like this twist on a margherita, which swaps traditional mozz for generous heaps of gooey stracciatella cheese, made in-house. I’ll take two, grazie.

Courtesy of Delicatessen



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Chef-owner Michael Ferraro (also of Macbar) is “The Mac Daddy” of cheese-laden noodles, and recently whipped up this hearty variation at his Soho hotspot. The Michmac is a sizzlin’ skillet of classic American, cheddar & Swiss mac topped with chicken-turkey chili and a runny fried egg topper. Yolk porn, check.

Courtesy of Taquitoria

Chronic Fries


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What you do before ordering Chronic Fries is up to you, but this joint’s secret -- and only non-taquito -- offering can help cure even the most serious case of the munchies. The shoestring, waffle, and crinkle-cut combo gets a coating of guacamole, cotija and nacho cheeses, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and pickled jalapeño relish.

Courtesy of Ai Fiori

White Label sliders

Ai Fiori

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In late 2010, Chef Michael White created one of NYC’s most buzzed-about burgers, The White Label. A Pat LaFrieda custom-blended patty (chuck, brisket, short rib, and aged ribeye) topped with white American cheese and Nueske's bacon on a buttery roll equals pure burger bliss. Ask for the bar-only secret sliders during dinner to score minis of the original.

Megan Murphy/Thrillist

Oxtail dumplings


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Thomas Chen, an Eleven Madison Park and Commerce alum, churns out modern-American fare peppered with Asian influence at this cozy LES eatery. An ever-changing rotation of secret dishes includes the latest: tender oxtail dumplings with celery root purée, spiced cranberry pesto, and crispy cilantro that pack a savory-sweet-tangy punch of flavor.

Courtesy of Nicoletta

Carbonara pizza


Address and Info

East Village

Michael White’s brick-lined EV pizza den fires up hand-tossed specialty pies with artisanal toppings -- all made fresh to order. An homage to one of Italy’s all-time greatest pasta creations, the secret carbonara pizza (once a menu regular) comes covered with cream, pancetta, Pecorino Romano, egg, black pepper, scallions, and a dash of amore.

Courtesy of Gramercy Tavern

Tavern Burger

Gramercy Tavern

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So maybe the secret’s been out about this made-in-house burger for some time now. But it’s so damn delicious, it had to make the cut. Michael Anthony’s off-menu masterpiece is a specially sourced blended patty (50% chuck, 25% brisket, 25% short rib) blanketed in melted cheddar with smoky bacon strips on a house-baked bun -- available daily while supplies last. Added bonus: duck fat-fried potato chips.

Courtesy of Bodega Negra

Chorizo mac & cheese

Bodega Negra

Address and Info

Meatpacking District

The sexy cantina in the Dream Downtown delivers bold flavors and Mexican-inspired American comfort foods. The money move here -- especially after taking down a couple killer margaritas -- is to request this late-night, special-upon-request mac & cheese made white cheddar and Gouda, smoky chorizo, and crispy pork belly.  

Courtesy of Black Barn

Egg yolk ravioli

Black Barn

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John Doherty's first solo venture in Madison Square Park serves seasonal, local fare in a modern barn-inspired setting. During the week, Chef Matteo Bergamini (from the space’s former restaurant occupant, SD26) offers his famous Uovo en Raviolo by special request, with often-changing flavors and fresh ingredients like asparagus and Parmesan-truffle emulsion.

Courtesy of Roberta’s

The Bee Sting


Address and Info


Once a popular flavor at the Mad. Sq. Eats pop-up food market is a now an off-menu hit at the much-hyped Brooklyn pizzeria. Order up this bad boy -- with crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, oven-crisped spicy soppressata, chili flakes, and drizzle of sweet honey on a charred, chewy crust -- to get stung by pizza pie perfection.

Courtesy of Paul Johnson

Poke trio


Address and Info


At Midtown’s seafood mainstay, Executive Chef Ben Pollinger offers a sophisticated trio of Hawaiian-style poke made from diced and seasoned raw tuna, salmon, and hamachi. Once a standard selection on the restaurant menu, this fresh fish dish is now a secret appetizer that you have to ask for.

Courtesy of Virginia’s

The Virginia’s Burger


Address and Info

Alphabet City

It seems like chefs love to feature great burgers as secret items. And we’re totally cool with it. At this cozy American bistro (from former Locanda Verde and Per Se chefs), the signature bar-only special is definitely one you can’t miss: a grass-fed meat blend ground in-house with Vidalia onion marmalade, bone marrow mayo, aged Cabot cheddar, and house pickles on a soft brioche bun.

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Megan Murphy (aka “This Girl Can Eat”) is a contributing writer at Thrillist who can’t keep a secret -- when it comes to sharing her favorite food and drink finds. Follow along on her culinary adventures on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.

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1. American Cut 363 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013 (Tribeca)

Marc Forgione's American Cut might not be among the class of old-school New York steakhouses, but the swanky, Atlantic City-based restaurant is one of the best spots for wet- and dry-aged beef in the city. The menu is simple but sophisticated, featuring tableside-chopped caesar salad, tomahawk ribeye and porterhouse for two, and out-of-this-world Cracker Jack sundae for dessert. The interior is dark and sleek with Art Deco touches, exposed brick walls, and leather booths.

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2. Seamore's 390 Broome St, New York, NY 10013 (Little Italy)

Michael Chernow, the guy behind the Meatball Shop, proves he's the master of the single-focus restaurant with Seamore's, his fish-centric restaurant in Little Italy. The concept is simple: you pick your fish from the ever-changing "Daily Landing" options, then your sauce and side. The menu features other fish plates like tacos, sandwiches, and poke. The large space includes a sidewalk patio and open-air windows and is decorated like a New England seafood shack filtered through a West Elm catalogue. Not too shabby.

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3. Marta 29 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016 (Nomad)

From Danny Meyer and the excellent chef of Maialino, Nick Anderer, this Roman-style pizza joint in the Martha Washington Hotel is serving up simple pies like a Margherita with buffalo mozzarella, and less simple pies like the Capricciosa with mozz, artichokes, prosciutto, olives, and egg.

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4. Delicatessen 54 Prince St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

The thing about Delicatessen is that it isn't one, at all. On the corner of Prince and Lafayette, the sleek restaurant is outfitted with stainless steel accents and floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to sidewalk seating, and its two- and four-top tables play host to tourists fueling up post-Soho shopping spree, and model types networking with other model types. Far from the traditional pastrami-slinging delis of New York, Delicatessen serves upscale comfort food that would satiate anyone's (especially a European teenager's) craving for "American food": mac & cheese, cheese sauce-laden burgers, and creamy lobster rolls. It's popular with the weekday lunch crowd, but on weekends, it turns into a brunch powerhouse.

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5. Taquitoria 168 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Taquitoria literally only serves... yep, taquitos, which're cooked up by some Restaurant Marc Forgione alums. And let us just say: they are probably the best taquitos you will ever have in your life. Even better than those frozen ones your mom heated up for you after school, if you can believe it.

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6. Ai Fiori 400 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10018 (Midtown)

The latest feather in Michael White's crowded cap boasts a team culled from big name competitors (Morimoto, Jean Georges, Corton...), and'll be serving three Riviera-esque meals a day within the art-adorned second floor of the Setai Hotel, including apps

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7. tuome 536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

Asian-influenced contemporary American fare from Thomas Chen, formerly of Eleven Madison Park and Commerce. The menu is concise, and broken down into categories like "cold small," "hot small," and "big;" it also features a pork "Pig Out" for two.

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8. Nicoletta 160 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Michael White (Marea, Ai Fiori...) now has a brick-laden pie joint serving up specialties like the Calabrese, sporting tiny pepperonis that curl up to form cups of oil & cheese, and sausage that imparts its fatty flavor thanks to being thrown in raw, though good luck getting that argument to work with your own sausage.

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9. Dirt Candy 86 Allen St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Amanda Cohen was one of the first downtown chefs to prove that vegetarian food can be cool. Dirt Candy, her five-time Michelin star restaurant on the Lower East Side, serves an outstanding vegetable-only menu that will make you ditch any and all of your carnivorous cravings. Expect some of the most creative plant-based dishes you'll ever taste, like Korean fried broccoli, jalapeño hush puppies, and Brussels sprouts tacos. Know before you go: there's no tipping, but menu prices are inflated about 20%.

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10. Gramercy Tavern 42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003 (Flatiron)

This upscale, Michelin-starred restaurant from the mind behind Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack revives the classic American tavern with sophisticated (and affordable) entrees, such as shrimp and squash stew, jerk chicken, and a chocolate peanut butter pie for two. But more popular than GT's entrees, wine list, and refined cocktails is its off-menu Tavern Burger, which is expertly made with a specially sourced blended patty (50% chuck, 25% brisket, 25% short rib), and blanketed in melted cheddar with smoky bacon strips on a house-baked bun.

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11. Bodega Negra 355 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 (Meatpacking)

Inside the Dream, this taco joint is superbly unique and delicious.

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12. Black Barn 19 E 26th St, New York, NY 10010 (Flatiron)

This restaurant provides locally sourced, upscale American cuisine in a setting inspired by Mark Zeff's Hamptons home, Blackbarn. For an immersive experience, the five course tasting menu with wine pairings is a good bet.

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13. Roberta's Pizza 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (Bushwick)

Don’t be dissuaded by the gritty, graffiti-splattered cinder-block facade, Roberta’s is among New York’s most celebrated pizzerias, having made an international footprint (sauce print?) with visiting Europeans and local Bushwick loft-dwellers alike who endure long waits on nights and weekends for a table. Inside the red front door, you'll find a warm dining room and open kitchen where blistering discs of dough are pulled out of an Italian-made wood-burning oven and given names like Speckenwolf (mozzarella, crispy speck, cremini mushroom, red onion, oregano) and Millennium Falco (parmesan, pork sausage, red onion). The final product is Neapolitan-like in taste and structure, and since you probably won't have any leftovers, do yourself one last favor and buy a loaf of bread from the on-site bakery on your way out.

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14. Oceana 120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020 (Midtown)

This classic power lunch destination for the banker set relocated to Midtown post-2001 and there it nails service, presentation, and selection of oysters like few others; Chef Ben Pollinger is incredibly passionate about his bivalves, and it absolutely shows at Oceana.

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15. Virginia’s 647 East 11th St, New York City, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

Chefs from heavy hitters Locanda Verde and Per Se have joined forces to create this 38-seat American spot that’s busting with great dishes like the stuffed suckling pig with fennel, strawberries, and sherry, the crispy sweetbreads with apricot, pea leaves, and charred lemon, and the duck breast with plum, cilantro, and plum vinaigrette.