Because not all menus are as extensive and encompassing as that one diner that's got like 30 omelets and "Delights From The Sea", we dug up the unlisted treasures of NYC restaurants that're only available by special request, including special gooey cheese-topped burgers and massive, buttery steaks.
The 9 Best Off-Menu Food Items in NYC
Secret Burger, Peels
Asking for the secret burger at the Southern-sired Bowery spot will score you a beast done up with gooey house-made pimento cheese, house-smoked bacon, pickled jalapeño, red-onion slaw, and fresh pickles. Maybe the best part of all? It comes sided with tots.
Whole Roasted Duck, Edi & The Wolf
You've got to call ahead for this one, but your forethought will be rewarded handsomely with this celebratory rustic fowl served with pretzel brioche, braised red cabbage, and marjoram jus. Bring hungry friends.
Grilled Cheese, Shake Shack
This bad boy is a buttered and toasted potato roll griddled with American cheese, plus it's totally toppable with bacon or peppers. However, if you're gonna wait in line, think hard about getting a burger, then ALSO getting this, maybe as a substitute for fries.
Mini Lamb Burgers, Antica Pesa
Created basically because Quentin Tarantino wanted a burger at their Roman branch during the Django Unchained premiere, it's so good that they continue to offer it off-menu with smoked cheese, chicory, and the same meat used for the on-menu lamb chops. First that great joke in that one scene in Desperado, and now this? Thanks, Quentin.
Gyro "Mikey-Style", Amali Street Food
Upper East Side
Midtown Mediterranean spot Amali's has a gyro-dishing street food cart, and, if you mention you want it "Mikey-Style", they'll load yours up with a shload of bacon. Also of note: their gyros always come with French fries stuffed in them.
Steak Diane, 21 Club
The classic NY spot (it's the one with all the lawn jockeys outside) still has some tricks up its sleeve, including this available-by-request, popular-in-the-'50s dish that involves pounded beef medallions and a flaming cognac, mustard, and beef/veal stock sauce.
The Burger, Gramercy Tavern
Maybe it's not so much a secret anymore given how awesome it is, but it is off-menu. The lunchtime-only, while-supplies-last patty is a brisket, shortrib, chuck beef mix topped with clothbound cheddar and house-made bacon, then served with potato chips fried in duck fat.
Toffee Sauce on Fry Bread, Blue Smoke
Back in the kitchen, they used to eat the fry bread that's on the menu. But, instead of the chipotle butter they serve it with, they topped it off with toffee sauce, which tastes kind of like maple syrup and caramel. So yeah, it's an appetizer.
40oz Cote de Boeuf, Piora
This thing is amazing. We'll let the process speak for itself: "The bone-in ribeye is dry-aged for 28 days and rubbed in a bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, garlic, chili flakes, and herbs before being held in a butter bath of the same marinade. The same butter then becomes a rosemary-maple Hollandaise to go alongside the steak." Oh yes.
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.
Taking its name from the word "to blossom" in Korean, Piora's menu is a lively mash-up of Italian and Korean cuisines and fittingly features plenty of veggie-centric, farm-fresh fare. Housed in a West Village townhouse, the ground-floor dining room is intimate with 32 seats and great cocktails, and overlooks a beautiful private garden. You’re gonna want to get the signature bucatini with black garlic, Dungeness crab, maitake mushrooms, and chilies.
Since 1930, The 21 Club has attracted celebrities and A-list clientele to its sophisticated dining room right by the Theatre District. It's also one of America's most famous speakeasies from the Prohibition era, with a disappearing bar and secret wine cellar that's now home to an award-winning wine selection.
This farm-to-table Mediterranean was designed with a Grecian household in mind. Simple, fresh dishes from a former A Voce chef include grilled octopus in red wine, raviolo w/ prosciutto, and braised lamb brisket with pumpkin and puffed farro, which is naturally at the bottom of the food pyramid.
Antica Pesa brings authentic Italian food to Williamsburg with dishes like prosciutto accompanying a gooey mozz ball wrapped in crusty filo dough, a whole stuffed calamaro w/ horseradish yogurt, housemade spinach gnocchi jammed w/ oven-roasted tomatoes & pesto, and a very Italian wine list.
Peels plates Southern comfort food -- like Andouille corn dogs, biscuits, and house-cured pork chops -- in a cheerful two-floor setting on Bowery.
The Flatiron outpost of Blue Smoke's grilling that same BBQ goodness that officially brings authentic Southern eats to the big city. BS also hosts the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, which attracts 'cue lovers from all over the place to fill up on more than they can handle.