Hidden gems and secret spots are what makes New York City a fun place to explore. In this article, I'll go over secret restaurants, bars, passageways, and other fun finds in NYC. If you want to see these special places, watch my video guide below.
1. El Sabroso:
This hidden Latin American restaurant in Times Square area is a true gem for two reasons. One, they serve delicious food in a truck loading dock. Two, and most importantly, a full size plate of food is $6. This is the cheapest, best food that you can get in that area (and many places in NYC). It is worth the trip. Note that they are only open for lunch and are located at 265 W 37th St, New York. Visit their site.
2. Grand Central's Secret Tennis Court
It may come as a surprise to many New Yorkers that tennis at Grand Central Terminal has existed since the 1960s. Hungarian immigrant Geza A. Gazdag founded the Vanderbilt Athletic Club on the third floor of the terminal. Its facilities included two clay courts, as well as that ski slope. Visitors can rent rackets for $10 for 2, and playing on the court starts at $75 per hour. Visit their site.
3. Keens Steakhouse Clay Pipe Collection
You'll find the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world at Keens Steakhouse in midtown. The membership roster of the Pipe Club contained over ninety thousand names at one time, including those of Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, J.P. Morgan, John Barrymore, and many more. Visit their site.
4. Speakeasies - Please Don't Tell
Speakeasies are secret bars that were created during prohibition times to hide the sale and consumption of alcohol. In NYC there are hundreds that existed and many that are still running today. The fun part about these bars are that they require secret knowledge to get inside. My favorite one is Please Don't Tell, which is hidden inside of a hot dog store and requires the visitor to enter a phone booth and dial a code to get in.
This spot is very popular, and difficult to get into. My trick to getting in every single time is to call them exactly at 3pm when they start accepting reservations. You will receive a busy tone, however, keep redialing the phone until you get through. Sometimes it can take up to 20 consecutive calls. However, once you get through you will almost always get a reservation and not have to wait. Visit their site.
5. Union Square Clock
No one ever seems to know what that spinning number thing in Union Square is, so here is the honest answer to settle the problem once and for all: no it’s not the national debt or countdown to 2012, it’s a clock. “The Passage” is a 15-digit clock that counts the time from midnight. When read left to right, the seven numbers to the left count the hours and minutes that have passed since midnight. When read right to left, the seven numbers to the right counts the hours and minutes remaining until midnight. The number in the middle is a hundredth of a second and is just a blur to the naked eye.