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When a seasoned New Yorker like yourself is looking for a great night out, drinks and a play sound fun…but you’ve been there, done that. A table for two at the buzziest restaurant? Honestly, kind of stressful. Instead, try one of these off-the-beaten-path, totally unique (but non-gimmicky) dinner experiences. We’ll even give you permission to say you stumbled upon these gems yourself.

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Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos

Psst, this Bushwick-based tortilla factory sells some of the city’s best tacos from the back of a one-story brick garage. Watch tortillas being made right in front of you while enjoying $3 tacos (don’t miss the chorizo) and Mexican soda. Bonus: Go on a Wednesday and you can also hit up $10 Drink N’ Draw at the Bat Haus next door.

271 Starr St. (at Wyckoff Ave.), Brooklyn; 718-392-2680

james beard house NY
Ken Goodman/Courtesy of The James Beard Foundation

James Beard House

The Society that gives out James Beard Awards (aka the Oscars of the restaurant world) holds weekly dinners prepared by popular chefs in James Beard’s former brownstone. Ticket prices are steep (about $175 per person), but they’re perfect for a food-focused special occasion. Your evening will kick off downstairs with fancy cocktails, appetizers, a view of the open kitchen and, in the summer, a magically lit outdoor courtyard. Then sail up to an ornate library for a myriad of courses and wine pairings. Check out the dinner schedule here.

167 W. 12th St. (at Seventh Ave.); 212-675-4984 or jamesbeard.org

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Astoria Seafood

Pop quiz: What’s practically as good as a plane ticket to Santorini? A trip to this no-frills market, which has been run by the same Greek family for generations. Grab a bag and load up on fresh river trout, scallops, snapper, lobster and more, then pay up front and tell the kitchen how you’d like everything cooked—grilled or fried. Part of the fun of this BYOB joint is the boisterous ambiance: the Greek music, the laughing waiters, the couple dancing in the corner and that cute grandpa having a birthday at the table next to you.

3710 33rd St. (at 37th Ave.); 718-392-2680 or astoriaseafoodnyc.com

SubCulture Dining

Speakeasy aficionados and adrenaline junkies, this secret pop-up dinner club goes out to you. You’ll need to apply for a membership first—you won’t be notified of the location until a few hours before your meal. You might be given a secret password or even asked to jump out from an airplane (yes, this really happened once) to get to the intimate dinner table, where you’ll be wined and dined with a surprise, seriously high-end tasting menu.

Secret location; subculturedining.com

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Pig Beach

Originally the side project of some A-list chefs who happened to love barbecue, this laid-back, sprawling garden and warehouse is a great place for big groups of friends, especially on a Saturday afternoon. Go for the pit-smoked baby back ribs, pork shoulder and house made pickles and stay for the local beer, beachy cocktails, frozen drinks and wine on tap. During the summer, you’ll find cornhole and other games on the dog-friendly patio (and we recommend grabbing an ice cream cone afterward at Ample Hills Creamery, which is just a stone’s throw away).

480 Union St. (at Bond St.); 718-737-7181 or pigbeachnyc.com

white gold butchers NY
White Gold Butchers

White Gold Butchers

You know how you practically have to be royalty to get into the Spotted Pig? Welp, April Bloomfield has an arguably even cooler establishment on the Upper West Side sans the wait. Run by two boss-lady butchers, the whole animal butcher shop sells sustainably-raised beef, pork and poultry, supplies meat for all of Bloomfield’s restaurants and slyly doubles as a local neighborhood restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t forget to shell out for a carton of fresh eggs on your way out.

375 Amsterdam Ave. (at 78th St.); 212-362-8731 or whitegoldbutchers.com

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Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget dessert. Meet the modern-day soda shop, housed in a carefully restored apothecary store from the 1920s. Twirling red stools, egg creams, black-and-white milkshakes and pastrami hot dogs transport you back to another time you never knew you were nostalgic for—delightfully, without an iota of kitsch.

513 Henry St. (at Sackett St.); brooklynfarmacyandsodafountain.com

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