Hudson Clearwater, New York City
You’re liable to walk right past the boarded-up West Village storefront that shields this clandestine restaurant from curious (but clueless) passersby. Turn the corner onto Morton Street and look for a green graffitied door; one push and you’ll be in the patio, just steps away from classic cocktails and refined American eats.
Gau & Cafe, Madrid
Perched atop a local university library, this trendy rooftop bar and restaurant attracts locals for its views as much as its food. Keep an eye out for the ruins of the Pious Schools (escuela pías), and when you spot the library, head up to the top floor.
The Pink Door, Seattle, WA
Sure, you’ll have to make your way through the winding alleys of Pike Place Market to find this spot, but you won’t have any trouble finding the actual entrance (we’ll give you one guess as to why). It’s a little kooky—after all, you’d never think cabaret and trapeze would go so well with old-school lasagna and locally sourced seasonal vegetables—but that’s all part of the romance.
Cookies Cream, Berlin
Ratatouille aside, you might think a garbage-stuffed back street isn’t the best place for an upscale dining restaurant. Fans of this refined European-leaning spot, which lies behind the Westin Grand Hotel and above a club, will tell you otherwise.
Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse, Albuquerque, NM
Once tucked into the corner of a liquor store, this unmarked, now-standalone speakeasy requires diners to knock three times and say a secret password to get past the door. (Before you go checking Yelp to figure out what it is, the code changes on a weekly basis.) Rumor has it the owners may also be plotting to open an even more exclusive VIP lounge with its own conditions.
Back in 5 Minutes, London
A velvet curtain inside a Brick Lane clothing boutique hides this discreet pop-up restaurant run by the Disappearing Dining Club. Gastronomes can book a seat on Wednesday through Saturday nights to sup on eclectic seasonal dishes from Chef Fredrik Bolin.
El Carajo International Tapas and Wine, Miami, FL
Most people go into a gas station convenience store to get directions or cheap snacks, but in-the-know gourmands flock to this pit stop to sample an assortment of Spanish small plates. Depending on the day, you can order Galician soup, miniature sausages simmered in red wine, lobster empanadas, crab crepes and charcuterie. To drink, there’s a sizeable selection of affordable beer and wines from California, the Mediterranean and South America.
Bohemian, New York City
Below an Asian butcher shop in a building formerly owned by Andy Warhol lies this zen restaurant where you can feast on a $55 six-course tasting menu of Japanese fare. That’s if you can get inside. Reservations, while required, can only be made through a hush-hush unpublished phone number. If you don’t know someone who has it, you can also try making your case by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and hope your self-introduction ingratiates you with the Powers That Be.
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