Several years ago a houseguest visiting me in New York said,“You’ve taken me to four bars and two restaurants, and none of them have beenmarked. What is going on?” It was the height of Manhattan’s speakeasycraze, and although it may have gotten (and may still be!) a little out ofhand, there was something irresistible about exploring an underground New Yorkjust for New Yorkers.
In a city that sees 48.8 million visitors each year, thebest way to claim a corner of one’s own may be to hide it behind a secret phonebooth, underneath a pizza stand, beyond the kitchen, on the other side of thewine cellar or in a train car. The same is true in other cities, of course,which is why digging for insider tips and word-of-mouth directions before atrip always pays off. The legwork is far more fun when the results areguaranteed.
Take, for example, La Petite Cuisine a Paris. British ex-patRachel Khoo moved to town to train at the Cordon Bleu, and she ran thistwo-seat restaurant out of her 256-square-foot apartment. She served lunch justtwo days each week, on Wednesday and Saturday. Guests were treated to soufflé,ragout or coq au vin, depending on the chef’s inclination.
Khoo is closing her kitchen soon, so here are ten other word-of-mouthaddresses worth investigating. Whether this list leads you to a hilltop spa inMexico, a helicopter-access-only slope in the Canadian Rockies or a kitchenfilled with Italian grandmas hell-bent on perfecting your pesto is up to you.When you’ve arrived, you’ll know you’re there.