Posted by - 08 August 2009 - No comments

Please Don't Tell

Access PDT through a phone booth in Crif Dogs
I absolutely love secret or hidden bars, eats and shops. Unmarked doors on streets you've walked past a million times, and places that blend into the background and are just ignored. In a city like London, these hidden gems provide a refreshing break from the humdrum of identikit pubs, shops, ostentatious cocktail bars or restaurant chains which populate the city.

The first hidden hotspot I ever visited was Milk & Honey, a speakeasy style bar in London. I remember walking through the discreet entrance on Poland Street, and feeling as if I'd been transported to an underground world. Of course, the secret has been out on Milk & Honey since it opened. And although I've been back since, and enjoy the exquisite cocktails, it doesn't have the same wonderment I experienced when I first visited, so I've been keeping a look out for other hidden finds ever since.

Unlike London, New York has seen a steady wave of bars and restaurants with secret addresses, including Milk & Honey NY, inspired by the Prohibition era opening in the last few years. And it was here last year, while out in the Meatpacking, I stumbled across an unmarked door leading to APT, a fabulously sleek and atmospheric bar designed to look like an apartment. If you're out in that side of town I'd definitely recommend going for drinks first at the rooftop bar at the Hotel Gransevoort before heading to APT.

Photography courtsey of La Esquina
It was at APT, I heard about Please Don't Tell, or PDT for those in-the-know, a bar hidden in the annex of Crif Dogs, a hip East Village hot dog place. Accessed via a phone booth, it sounded like an urban myth, and it was too late (or early in the morning) to follow up, but I've since found out it does exist. By now, it's probably no longer a secret, but I'm dying to visit the bar the next time I'm in New York, just so I can feel like a spy and pick up the phone and be buzzed in.

If you're heading to NY, and want to check out other pseudo-speakeasy venues, La Esquina is worth a look. The hidden Mexican restaurant is one of the most-talked about 'secret' restaurants in Manhattan. Located in the basement of a cheap and cheerful taqueria, you access it by going through a door marked 'No Admittance' before cutting through a bustling kitchen to get to the restaurant.
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