E by Jose Andres is a restaurant within a restaurant located in Las Vegas.
You want to get a foodie to visit a restaurant? Tell her she can't go.
There are restaurants around the world that use secret locations and exclusive dining policies to stay interesting and desirable to diners. Unlike invite-only guerrilla supper clubs that change locations, these eateries stay in one spot. Most don’t even have a phone number to call, so you have to be tenacious and rely on the kindness of others to recommend to the chef that you get in.
Here are some hints for five dining haunts you should try -- if you can find them.
Totoraku/Teriyaki House Pico, Los Angeles
Pull up to The Teriyaki House Pico and you will think that you are just at a random deli in a depressed little Los Angeles strip mall. There will be no lights on, and the restaurant will seem all but deserted. Butif you knock on the door and mention the name of your host (someone who has recommended to the chef that you be allowed to dine there), you will be in for what The Huffington Post's Jay Weston calls "a once-in-a-lifetime experience." The restaurant's real name is Totoraku, and it has no working telephone number, no email and no inclination to let anyone dine there without a host. The restaurant is a yakiniku specialist and serves a decadent array of different cuts and varieties of beef, including tongue, rib-eye sashimi and beef throat. Ingredients like king crab, quail eggs and abalone also make appearances. If this menu has you drooling, best make a friend who can get you in there.
via Harriet Magpie
This photo shows the nondescript interior of Bohemian.
Bohemian, New York City
When you visit your local butcher, think twice before you disregard that unassuming door as merely the entrance to a meat locker. New York City’s Bohemian is located in the back of a downtown butcher, and, with no listed phone number, it's vital that you know someone who knows someone to get a reservation there. Once you are inside, enjoy a seasonal, Japanese-influenced menu. Be sure to get the restaurant's business card as you leave, in case you want to make a future reservation -- it's the only way to get the phone number.
Tintoreria Dontell, Barcelona
Next time you are in Barcelona, take another look at the small dry cleaner you may pass. You might just be walking by Tintoreria Dontell, an opulent Mediterranean fusion restaurant housed behind a humble dry cleaner's facade. Urban Secrets runs the restaurant, and even if you are able to find it, you can only get in if you pass the ultimate test -- a fingerprint scan. No one gets in here who isn't supposed to. Once inside, enjoy the atmosphere, as the restaurant switches over to a nightclub open until 2 a.m. You won't get the exact address until your reservation is confirmed, and it's no use trying the website -- it just lists the dry cleaning services. Somewhere you can dine in style and get your suit pressed too? That's what I call a full-service experience.
Hudson Clearwater, New York City
What would you do if you made reservations at a restaurant, only to arrive and find that the restaurant wasn't there? That is exactly what happens to patrons who come to Hudson Clearwater in New York City. The restaurant has a website, where you can find the phone number and make reservations, but it lists the wrong address. Those in the know understand that you have to go around the corner to another street entirely, and pick out a door with no signage or numerical address. Once you enter, dine on seasonal American fare and elegant cocktails like the Mutiny, made with aged rum, lime, ginger beer, angostura bitters and mint.
E, Las Vegas
I have had the pleasure of eating at E by Jose Andres, located inside his casual restaurant Jaleo, in Las Vegas' Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. The eight diners who nabbed a reservation for one of the two nightly seatings were led to a secret room behind the main restaurant's bar. There, the hubbub and raucous music of the main restaurant were silenced, as we took a seat at a bar where the meal was then prepared in front of our eyes. Nothing on this menu was offered in the main restaurant, and as we feasted on dishes like chickpea spheres and “fizzy paper,” it was as if the world had stopped. You realize that no one knows where you are or how to get there, and there is an incredible feeling of bonding between the diners and the chefs, who work their tails off to provide not only a first-rate meal, but a show as well. With no telephone number or description, you have to email for reservations exactly one month in advance, to the minute. From the passionate and convivial host to the focused and charming chef Edwin Morales, this is a meal that cannot be described. Nor should it. It should be experienced firsthand.
Too much work to get to these hidden restaurants? You could always decide just to order off the once “secret” menu at In-N-Out. That is one of my all-time favorite secret meals!
Are there any other hidden restaurants you know about? Share them with your fellow Bites readers!
Check out Fritos and Foie Gras for more from Sarah Spigelman.