If you’re looking for a variety of fresh, authentic cultural tastes at an affordable price, look no further. From Midtown West to Williamsburg to East Village, there are hundreds of easy-to-miss dining spots that will undoubtedly blow you away. No matter what your taste buds are calling for, NYC offers a wide spectrum of places to eat for locals and visitors alike looking for a one of a kind feasting experience. Take a break from the crowd favorite restaurants and check out these 7 hidden gems in NYC.
La Superior: For Taco lovers, get ready for some real Mexican street food at this hole-in-the-wall in Williamsburg. Known for their “tasty, authentic, cheap” trifecta, La Superior is stern about their cooking and drink mixing. All of the ingredients are fresh (even the tortilla chips!) and the food is prepared the day of. This secret gem is affordable and a great place to go anytime during the year. The staff is exceedingly nice and offers visitors a laid back atmosphere that is great to relax in with good music and great authentic Mexican cuisine. The food lives up to its boastful name, but it’s the down-home neighborhood appeal and low prices that keep it lively. The space setup embraces hand-blown light fixtures, custom screened wallpaper, and kitschy plastic table wear; all imported from Mexico, just like the chef. The co-owners behind this festive space strive to keep their recipes rich and their customers coming back for more.
What to order: Start by ordering a basket of fresh, hot tortilla chips ($4) with cups of mild, medium and spicy salsa on the side. Next, hit up La Superior’s delicious tiny tacos ($2.50). As for drinks, margaritas are a must. These babies truly pack a punch and coincide with any meal of choice.
Caracas Arepa Bar: In Venezuela, arepas are the center for every meal. Caracas is a Venezuelan arepa bar located in the East Village and Williamsburg. The Caracas Arepa Bar is devoted to the pleasures of homemade Venezuelan food. Since 2003, the have been dedicated to the idea of a space where authentic quality food converges with the assorted vibe of the city. The colorful dining area connects to a large patio that’s a great place to settle on a warm day. Caracas makes the arepas daily and also offers gluten and wheat-free arepas. If you are looking for a fun date night or an affordable meal with friends, the arepas start at only $7. Known as “amazingly delicious” and a “change of pace”, these authentic Venezuelans shake out crisp arepas loaded with flavorful fillings in order to bypass insane waits. Whether you choose to dine in East Village or Williamsburg, both groups will have little trouble scoring a table and enjoying some top-notch arepas without having to wait an hour to do it.
What to Order: While visitors could find a fully satisfying meal by sticking to the long list of different arepas on the menu and additional daily specials, the “Sidekicks” are not something to look over. In particular, the croquetas, deep-fried cakes of yucca potato with chorizo, corn, and cilantro, are incredible. The “guasacaca” (guacamole with homemade chips) is made fresh daily and manages to make this staple of Latin American dining taste like something never done before. As for drinks, try the Roneria Caracas. Located inside the restaurant, this rum bar boasts more than 30 sipping rums from the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America. A range of rum-based cocktails are also available, including classic drinks and the bar’s very own makings, such as the Romero Sour.
Fedora Bar: West Village’s hidden gem delivers classic American cuisine in an old New York ambiance. Don’t let the bar’s exterior design fool you. Fedora brings in a stylish and sophisticated crowd. The newly renovated space is now better than ever. Located in a cozy historic Village space, Fedora provides a vibe of a modern speakeasy with a menu of playful dishes from Chef Matt Griffin and creative cocktails from Brian Bartels. The menu features a combination of classics and new dishes, and is inspired by different types of cuisine. In the warmer months, visitors can take in the small private back garden where they grow many of the herbs that appear on the menu.
What to Order: For starters, the oysters are a popular pick. As for the main course, try the maple smoked salmon or the wagyu flap steak which mixes well with the meticulously crafted cocktail list (especially the Black Squirrel Old Fashioned).
Mamoun’s Falafel: Sited in the heart of Greenwich Village, Mamoun’s Falafel has been serving high quality Middle Eastern Food since it first opened its doors to the public back in 1971. It is the oldest falafel restaurant in New York and one of the first Middle Eastern launches in the United States. There is an energy and spark to the place that cannot be put into words. Whether it’s the tiny hole in the wall charm, or the vibrant clientele, going to Mamoun’s for a taste of Mediterranean can certainly transform a meal into a unique dining experience. Everything served is made from scratch using only the freshest natural ingredients, the finest imported spices, and signature recipes.
What to Order: This Middle-Eastern take-out restaurant is famous for its falafel. They offer mouthwatering falafel sandwiches ($2.50), and also have a number of other delicious items, including stuffed grape leaves, baba ganouj, tabbouleh, and stuffed eggplant.
Totto Ramen: If the only ramen you’re used to eating is heated in the corporate dining-room microwave, you should get out of the office building and head to Totto Ramen in Midtown. It’s best to get to Totto Ramen early for lunch; otherwise you’ll probably face a line. If you’re lucky to snag a seat at the counter, you’ll be treated to a show by the chefs stirring cauldrons of broth and char slabs of boiled pork with a blowtorch for the house specialty, chicken paitan ramen ($9.25). You can have it with wavy noodles (not made with eggs) and a dollop of miso ($10.25), or order it spiked deliciously with rayu, the chili-sesame oil ($10.25). Totto Ramen is owned by Bobby Munekata, of Yakitori Totto, who worked on the menus with a chef from Hakata, Japan; pork-based ramen’s home region.
What to Order: Order a bowl of Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen (homemade noodles and broth are flavored with soy sauce, scallion, onion, char siu pork and a nori ($9.25) or Totto Miso Ramen, which entails Koji Miso, ground pork and noodles topped with a hard-boiled egg, scallion, egg, bean sprouts, onion and char siu pork ($12).
Paul’s Da Burger Joint: East Village’s tasty burger joint can be described as a 50’s eatery with counter service, checkered table cloths and vintage decorations. Many people have described Paul’s as “their home away from home” because of the welcoming and cozy environment, created by both the restaurants hospitality and style. You’ll find regulars sitting at the counter, chatting with the cooks that they know by name, while savoring their big juicy burger and sipping on a cold beer. This little hole-in-the-wall offers a wide variety of toppings available on any burger including mushrooms, jalapenos, chilly, and bacon to name a few. Shakes, frosteds, egg creams and soda floats are also available. Paul’s provides a big portion of high quality food at a reasonable price and aims to satisfy all customers and make everyone feel at home.
What to Order: Try the house specialty: The Eastsider burger – a bacon cheese burger with ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions or the Saint Marks Burger- a cheeseburger topped with mushrooms and fried onions. If you’re looking to keep it simple, try the Regular Burger or Cheeseburger.
Zenkichi: This extraordinary Japanese brasserie in Williamsburg invites you to look beyond sushi and yakitori and explore true Japanese cuisine. The restaurant’s specialty is Tokyo-style seasonal small plates, for sharing and pairing with their delicious sake. Savor the dishes popular among Tokyoites, and enjoy the harmony of subtle & bold flavors. The most emphasis is placed on the Omakase (chef’s tasting menu), which changes every 5 weeks to showcase the best native and imported fish and vegetables of the season. The small plate a la carte menu is also available and changes every 3 months. As for space, majority of Zenkichi’s seating takes a style of intimate semi-private booth table; a common setting in Tokyo. This restaurant provides a unique, relaxing setting, which enables them to concentrate on the food, sake, and their dining companions. Each booth is sequestered by bamboo shades, while dark wood and minimal lighting further elevate the sense of intimacy.
What to order: Visitors should highly consider the sake. According to Zenkichi, “Sake is our passion and we serve only the best.” The restaurant also specializes in Junmai (pure-rice), all-natural premium sakes made exclusively with rice, water and koji (rice yeast), which are completely free of additives.