A guide to 10 of NYC’s secret bars

Although we’re long past the Prohibition years, people continue to open up bars hidden from majority of the public. My guess is that they want to attract a certain crowd or maintain a particular semblance. Like any cafe, atmosphere is just as important as the drinks. Eater.com compiled a list of 10 bars in New York City that are relatively obscure. Fortunately, none are exclusive and are accessible once you track them down. There’s a description accompanying each one, and there seems to be a range in terms of the vibe. Memorize the list and continue looking cool in front of your friends.


BaoHaus – Eddie’s joint

Ever since Eddie Huang closed the original BaoHaus, I’ve been meaning to make a trip to the second location. Eddie, whom I mentioned before, opened up a shack in the Lower East Side after his recipe was a finalist in Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown. Despite the lack of formal training, the food of this renegade chef quickly garnered a cult-like following. His recipes are original, with influences from Taiwanese parents and growing up in the South.

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Pure Thai Shophouse – a break from mediocrity

Along the 9th Ave. stretch of Hell’s Kitchen, there are more Thai restaurants than you can count on both hands. For the most part they’re mediocre, catering to the Midtown office-worker craving a reliable delivery of pad thai. For the second time, my plans to eat at Totto were hampered by the long wait. Fortunately, Pure Thai Shophouse happened to be around the corner. This is David and Vanida Bank’s fourth restaurant, intended to evoke the charm of a humble shack in Thailand serving street food. The decor alone was a refreshing escape from the trend of Thai restaurants with  excessively lavish furnishings. The rustic wood planks, unevenly painted walls, and plastic stools to squat on created a boldly unpretentious atmosphere. Against the backdrop of softly-playing Thai pop music, Caritas and I perused the menu.

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EatLoveNY Weekly Rundown

1. Porto Rico Importing – over 100 years of quality ★★★★★

2. Kuma Inn – Filipino tapas by the King ★★★★★

3. Pomme Frites – 1 item, 30 sauces ★★★☆☆

4. McRib Twitter account

5. Num Pang – already tastes like Thanksgiving ★★★★★

6. Otto Enoteca – Batali on a budget ★★★★★

7. 10 lessons learned

10 lessons learned

I’ve been eating out every day for the last six months, and have been exposed to lots of good and bad restaurants. Here’s a list of lessons I learned along the way…

1.When unsure of what to order – The first item on a menu is almost always either a popular dish or a specialty. It’s a good rule of thumb if you’re ever in doubt about what to get and the waiter isn’t helpful. This applies for the appetizers, entrees, and especially dessert.

2. A note on health ratings – A restaurant with a B health rating is usually a sign of bad food. I never let a B stop me from walking in, but I’ve realized that I tend to be disappointed more often at these places. One exception is in Chinatown eateries. You only should start to worry when there’s a C health rating.

3. Don’t stick with just water – Always order a drink with your food, unless you can only choose from Coke, Sprite etc. This rule is especially important if you’re eating at an exotic restaurant. Quite often, the food and drink will pair well together.



4. Learn the art of chopsticks – This doesn’t concern many of you who already are skilled in chopstick-use, but I wasn’t when I first started (and still am not). If you’re eating Asian food, put the fork down and pick up a pair of chopsticks. If you’re starving, you’ll learn pretty quickly.

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Otto Enoteca – Batali on a budget

Elegant Italian dining on a budget may seem counter-intuitive, especially at a place owned by superstar chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria is Batali’s most casual (read: cheapest) restaurant, and is intended to capture the essence of a bustling train station, rather than a highbrow dining establishment. Despite the boycott inspired by Batali’s recent blunder comparing bankers to Hitler and Stalin, Otto was filled with clumsy tourists and lively families during lunch.

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Num Pang – already tastes like Thanksgiving

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Num Pang‘s Cambodian-themed sandwiches. After a long morning in the office, I made the 1-mile journey to try one of their seasonal specials. The Roasted Figs and Bacon sandwich was sold out, so I happily settled on the Oven Roasted Turkey ($8.25). It’s never too early for a taste of Thanksgiving .

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