NYC's Secret Spots: R29ers Share Their Hush-Hush Hangouts

How many times have you heard, "I know a great hole-in-the-wall dive bar," or "oh, I just picked this up at my favorite little vintage shop," only to find out the person is talking about Brother Jimmy's and Cheap Jack's respectively? Yes, in NYC, it seems everyone thinks they know a secret, under-the-radar spot—and some are a total disappointment.
So, we quizzed the team at R29 HQ to put together a list of our lesser-known faves. From the best wax in the city to the most refreshing watermelon juice, our go-tos are about to become your go-tos. (Okay, so you may have heard of some of them, but still, this is fun, right?).
Now, give a little back! Go on through and tell us your hush-hush local loves in the comments. And, just so we're clear, we didn't share all our local joints…yet. We've gotta hold something back, right?
1 of 14
Christina De La Cruz, design director, Antoinette
"There's a great little vintage shop called Antoinette in Williamsburg. The shop is owned by this wonderfully bright woman named Lexi who named the boutique after her mother. Much of the clothing comes from her mom's meticulously kept wardrobe; She worked in the fashion industry starting from the 1950s. Everything is clean, pressed, and in ridiculous, amazing condition. Lexi knows the story behind every piece of clothing, which gives great personality and an extra bit of care to your purchase. Also, she doesn't price anything over $100."

Antoinette, 119 Grand Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue); Brooklyn; 718-387-8664.

Photo: Courtesy of Antoinette
2 of 14
Kate Hyatt, producer, Anor Spa
"I love Charos at Anor Spa for a Bikini Wax. I've done the whole Bliss, Haven, Serenity, J Sisters blah blah blah fancy brazilian bikini waxes, but by far the best waxer in NY (that no one knows about) is Charos at Anor Spa in Cobble Hill. Charos is one of those calming old souls who you end up telling your life story to while she take cares of your lady region with lavender hard wax that is painless (for realz) and leaves no irritation."

Anor Spa
Anor Spa, 113 Pacific Street (between Clinton and Henry streets); Brooklyn; 718-483-1403.

Photographed by Lia Schryver
3 of 14
Philippe von Borries, co-founder, North 11 Shoe Repair
"On the third story of a warehouse filled with workshops and yoga studios and down several hallways, you'll find a curious little wooden shed with a sliding window and a team of two of NYC's most talented cobblers ,who also happen to be incredibly polite and eager to work with your most prized footwear. Fixing and restoring shoes and boots and honoring the quality of the trade seems lost on most NYC cobblers. Not on this joint. It's worth the trek."

North 11 Shoe Repair
North 11th Shoe Repair, 118 North 11th (between Berry and Wythe avenues); Brookyn; 718-599-7463.

Photographed by Lia Schryver
4 of 14
Connie Wang, global editor, Physical Graffitea
"There's this basement-level tea shop called Physical Graffitea on St. Mark's between 1st and A that stocks every sort of tea you could ever dream of sipping — but you'll have to look down to find it! In the back, there are seasonal flavored kombuchas on tap — the best in the city!"

Physical Graffitea
Physical Graffitea, 96 St Marks Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-477-7334.

Photo: Courtesy of Physical Graffitea
5 of 14
Isabel Cafaro, executive assistant, The Antiques Garage
"The Antiques Garage on West 25th Street is only open on the weekends, but I always find great vintage jewelry there. Until recently, they had a nice selection of clothes, too. I actually found my sister's hair piece for her wedding there. It's her 'something old'."

Antiques Garage
Antiques Garage, 112 West 25th Street (between 6th and 7th avenues); no phone.

Photo: Courtesy of Antiques Garage
6 of 14
Annie Georgia Greenberg, New York editor, Local Clothing
"As if possessed by some unearthly shopping martian, my body just naturally gravitates towards this place at least once a week. Even if I don't buy anything, I love looking at their well-curated dresses, printed button-down tops, leather bags, and loafer collection. It's small but super-organized and the owners actually know what's up (read: they won't bug you to get something that doesn't look good)."

Local Clothing
Local Clothing, 328 East 9th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues); 212-777-3850.

Photographed by Lia Schryver
7 of 14
Kirby Duncan, events manager, Pizza Roma
"I love Pizza Roma's pet-friendly beer garden! At night, it actually turns into Birreria Roma, a secret beer garden for those in the know, with its own entrance somewhere on Cornelia Street. There's only 24 seats available, and to get in you'd have to know owner Andrea Franchini's direct line, but if you look hard enough you might find it on a tiny sign next to the metal unmarked door. Just give him a call."

Pizza Roma
Pizza Roma, 259 Bleecker Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues); 212-924-1970.‎

Photo: Courtesy of Pizza Roma
8 of 14
Christene Barberich, editor in chief, Wendy Nichol
"I would say my favorite secret spot is Wendy Nichol boutique on Sullivan Street in Soho. She has women right there on the premises sewing handbags, and Wendy herself is usually there casting rings or rearranging the display in the window. It's sort of like this an old West tannery/jewelry shop fashioned for the modern world (and modern girls). My favorite finds: Her perfect black leather clutch bags and her plain hammered rings. Total NYC classics."

Wendy Nichol
Wendy Nichol, 147 Sullivan Street (between Prince and Houston streets); 212-431-4171.

Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Nichol
9 of 14
Lexi Nisita, associate community editor, Jussara Lee
"Jussara Lee is the kind of place you could only stumble upon by accident – a tiny shop on a very quiet street in the West Village. It's the sort of place that would make you feel inferior because it's so clean and perfect, except for the fact that the owner is so friendly and charming! From the house-made gowns and knits to the beautiful jewelry and crisp handbags, this place is small enough to feel intimate but exciting enough to suck up a solid hour of your day."

Jussara Lee
Jussara Lee, 60 Bedford Street (between Morton and Barrow streets); 212-242-4128.

Photo: Courtesy of Jussara Lee
10 of 14
Megan McIntyre, beauty editor, Downtown Bakery
"This hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant is literally that: A hole in the wall. The window is almost always cracked, no matter how many times they repair it, the lights are that lovely kind of fluorescent that makes every pore visible, and the seating is more of the grab-and-go variety, but, and it's a big but, the food is exceptional. Their Chicken Molé Enchiladas were practically a religious experience for me and the Chicken Chimichangas are everything a fried puff of dough smothered in sour cream and stuffed with cheese and meat should be. It doesn't look like much from the outside, and it's really not much from the inside, but for authentic, delicious, transformational Mexican food, this is my go-to."

Downtown Bakery
Downtown Bakery, 69 First Avenue (between 4th and 5th streets); 212-254-1757.

Photographed by Lia Schryver
11 of 14
Lisa Dionisio, production editor, Babel Fair
"Although Nolita's Babel Fair isn't a total secret, this rad little boutique has that wander-in-and-discover-something-new quality that makes it perfect for window-shopping weekends. One of my best impulse purchases was a stack of colorful bracelets I found displayed on their island of fun tchotchkes. Its well-curated stock of lesser-known labels, international designers, and colorful accessories make it worth the trip."

Babel Fair
Babel Fair, 260 Elizabeth Street (between Houston and Prince streets); 646-360-3685.

Photo: Courtesy of Babel Fair
12 of 14
Chelsea Scott, recruiter, Taverna Kyclades
"This place has, hands down, the absolute best Greek food in all of the boroughs. Nothing compares. The long wait during evening hours is well worth it. The best grilled octopus ever!"

Taverna Kyclades
Taverna Kyclades, 33-01 Ditmars Boulevard (between 33rd and 35th streets); Queens; 718-545-8666.

Photo: Courtesy of Taverna Kyclades
13 of 14
Kristian Laliberte, senior editor, The Upper Rust
"On the days I'm walking home from work, I make an excuse to go a block out of my way (it's exercise!) to hit up this home decor emporium, which is located on what has to be one of the most charming stretches of sidewalk in NYC.
There's a jumble of look-at-me items outside the shop — giant clocks, vintage chairs, and oversized metal stars — while inside they stock everything from $35 framed postcards that make for perfect hostess gifts to heritage glassware and one-of-a-kind stationary. Next door, there's more substantial pieces, including light fixtures and graphic metal signs. The best part is that it never feels grubby — it's cleverly curation makes for one chic yardsale. Plus, the prices put Restoration Hardware to shame."

The Upper Rust
The Upper Rust, 445 East 9th Street (at First Avenue); 212-533-3953.

Photographed by Lia Schryver
14 of 14
Gabriela Alford, designer, Fast And Fresh Mexican Deli
"This is my go-to weekend spot for tamales and fresh watermelon juice. Their salsa verde is so good, I buy cups of it to keep in my fridge."

Fast and Fresh Mexican Deli
Fast and Fresh Mexican Deli, 84 Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and State Street); Brooklyn; 718-802-1661.

Photographed by Lia Schryver