Mellow Pages Library & Reading Room
If you really want to look like an in-the-know New Yorker, bring out-of-town guests to these secret places. You can check out secret New York attractions, including a beer garden hidden behind a pizzeria and a park perched high above the Financial District. And it’s okay—we don’t mind if you take the credit for finding these hidden gems.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of secret places in NYC
Mellow Pages Library & Reading Room
Situated in a building containing artists’ studios and galleries, this venture is behind a gray door on the first floor, with a small "Come inside" sign hanging from the knob. The collection, compiled by co-owners Jacob Perkins and Matt Nelson, emphasizes small-press titles and works by up-and-comers. If you want to borrow a tome, you can sign up for a yearlong membership with either $20 or a donation of ten books. mellowpageslibrary.tumblr.com
The New York Earth Room
On the second floor of an anonymous storefront on Wooster Street, you’ll find a 3,600-square-foot room covered in 22 inches of loamy topsoil (ring a bell on the ground floor to enter). It’s a signifier of what Soho really is, under all of the wealth and mythos of the neighborhood: a space on an island made of dirt and rocks. 212-473-8072, diaart.org
The cozy Italian spot Pizza Roma has an even more intimate annex: a semisecret, reservations-only beer garden. Call at your reserved time for access to a secluded Cornelia Street alleyway, which leads to the 20-seat patio. The beer menu features mostly Italian brews like Moretti and AMA Bionda. If you’re feeling peckish, dine on items from the restaurant, like slices of Roman-style pizza.
This little tract of heavenly green is an unexpected retreat within the gray bustle of the Financial District. And you’d never know it was there, situated as it is behind 55 Water Street, one of the largest office buildings in the city. To access the oasis, take the stairway or one of the escalators adjacent to the building’s Chase bank. There’s a plank walkway and benches, à la the High Line, plus trees and bushes to give you a breath of fresh air.
There’s a good chance that you could pass a few hours in this emporiumstorefront’s video-game gallery and leave without ever knowing that it’s also a clothing shop. Consoles like Pac-Man and Street Fighter II make it easy to while away an afternoon in the arcade, but once you find the walkway to the back of the store (hidden inside a photo booth), you can check out the adjacent menswear shop. Here, you’ll find vintage brand-name streetwear and designer collaborations, from Members Only jackets to limited-edition NCAA hats. Venture even faurther back, and you’ll come across an outdoor events space covered in graffiti by internationally renowned street artists.
Ashoka Indian Restaurant
Craving Indian food? Look no further than Ashoka Indian Restaurant on the Upper West Side. Order some battered and fried onion bhaji ($8), vegetable samosas ($8) or coconut curried shrimp ($12) to nibble on while you decide on your entrees. Assemble a veritable feast by ordering a variety of Indian favorites to share. Rich chicken tikka masala ($16), spicy Mangalorean fish curry ($18), braised lamb shank with garlic and onions ($18) and verdant saag paneer ($14) ought to get you started. Don’t forget to order some lamb biryani ($16) and a side of garlic naan ($5) to soak up all the excess sauce. Still have some room for dessert? Good, because you’ll want to end the meal with a mango or rose lassi ($5), fig-saffron ice cream ($8) or gulab jamun malai, a traditional Indian sweet flavored with cardamom ($8). The restaurant also provides live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Venue says: “Lunch only, eat unlimited appetizers & main courses for $12.95 or $13.95. Mention Time Out to receive 10% off on your meal only at Dinner”