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Behind the scenes in Manhattan restaurants, creative chefs are experimenting in their kitchens. Sometimes these experiments—new dishes, riffs on old favorites—are ready for an audience, but instead of being added to the menu, they are available as secret dishes only to those who know to ask. Here are some of our favorite off-menu items in lower Manhattan.

The Gotham Burger at Gotham Bar & Grill

Since 1984, the Michelin-rated Gotham Bar & Grill has lured crowds with caviar, seafood salad, and dry-aged steak. But there’s one menu item you won’t find on the regular dinner menu that locals love: the Gotham Burger. This decadent burger—a short rib and chuck patty, topped with sautéed cremini mushrooms, truffle pecorino, and truffle aioli—was once only available for lunch, but is now also served at the bar during dinner service.

12 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003; T. (212) 620-4020

Secret Sicilian Meatballs at Acme

For his secret menu dish, Italian-American Chef Brian Loiacono turned to one of his grandmother’s recipes for inspiration. Every evening, a limited number of Sicilian meatballs, made with veal, lamb, and pork in a tomato sauce topped with basil, are on offer—but be quick with your order, because they sell out fast. You might see spicy pork meatballs on the menu and think these are Granny’s recipe, but for the secret dish, you’ll need to ask for the off-menu Sicilian specialty.

9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012; T. (212) 203-2121

Chili Pasta at Lucky Strike

The copper bar at Lucky Strike is a cozy place to indulge in French classics from a salade niçoise with grilled fresh tuna to steak frites with Roquefort butter, but in-the-know guests have their eye elsewhere. While not always common for French-influenced bistros to serve notable pasta dishes, Lucky Strike is the exception to the rule. Join the insiders that sometimes look past the warm lentil salad, and croque monsieur in favor of the spicy chili pasta.

59 Grand St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 941-0772

Kimchi Stew at Momofuku Noodle Bar

Classics at Chef David Chang’s famous East Village noodle bar like pork buns with scallion and cucumber, or the Momofuku Ramen with pork belly and poached egg have achieved legendary status, but there’s another dish that should be on your radar: Kimchi stew; a bowl of braised kimchi and shredded pork topped with scallions and carrots.

171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003; T. (212) 777-7773

Limited Edition Burger at Raoul’s

The roasted chicken and steak au poivre at Raoul’s, a French bistro on Prince Street, are well-known neighborhood favorites, but there’s an under-the-radar dish that locals keep to themselves: the au poivre burger. It started out originally as a limited, off-menu item with just 12 coveted burgers served at the bar per night. When Raoul’s starting serving brunch, the Raoul’s Burger au poivre became available in the dining room on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. A pepper-crusted patty is topped with triple-crème Saint-André cheese and served with pommes frites and au poivre sauce on the side.

180 Prince St, New York, NY 10012; T. (212) 966-3518

Words Jessica Colley Clarke


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