I had been hearing about this speakeasy for a while now, but had not previously had the opportunity to go. I decided to finally make a point to check this place out on my last trip to New York.
Getting a Reservation:
I was under the impression that it was nearly impossible to get into Please Don't Tell (PDT for short), though this proved to be false. The best way to guarantee that you get in is to book a reservation, (though there is a slim chance you can get in without one if you simply show up when it opens and wait to see if anyone misses/cancels their reservation). I can speak from personal experience, though, that they are very strict about letting people in without a reservation if there are no cancellations, even if you are a celebrity or VIP, so don't count on being able to bribe your way in! This is what I like about New York. Everyone has to get in the same way, no pretending to be better than anyone else in this city.
To get a reservation, you simply need to call their phone number at 3pm and keep dialing until you get through. My friend Victoria and I both started dialing at 2:59 and she finally got through at 3:09. She passed me the phone so that I could make the reservation, but I must admit I was a little nervous. The reviews I had read online mostly describe the people that pick up as rude and curt, but this couldn't have been further from the truth, the maître d' was extremely hospitable. The earliest reservation available was 10:30 pm. A little late, but we were glad to be in.
Finding Your Way In
The entrance to PDT is located inside Crif Dogs, an East Village hot dog establishment that serves up some of the most interesting combinations of ingredients that you could ever want on your wiener. However, in true speakeasy fashion, the only way to access PDT is through a secret phone booth entrance inside the hot dog joint. Honestly, it's really not hard to find the phone booth (located on the left wall when you walk in) though the booth itself is a bit of a tight space. Once inside, follow the instructions for what to dial on the old red rotary phone, and immediately the hostess will open a door hidden within the wall to let you in.
As we arrived, our hostess greeted us and thanked us for being on time. Being on time is essential, as they will give up your reservation if you are so much as 15 minutes late. Although there were no tables available yet, we were welcomed to sit at the bar.
Inside, the space is very intimate with only a few tables and about 15 seats at the bar (no standing room here!). Adorning the walls are several taxidermied animals, which along with the slatted wooden ceiling, give the saloon some rustic charm. Sitting at the bar proved to be an even better option than a table, as we had the opportunity to watch the drinks being prepared while conversing with the bartender. It also made for a great way to socialize with other patrons who include local New Yorkers as well as people from all over the country and world.
The interesting part of the Please Don't Tell story is how it was built as a speakeasy out of necessity. Perhaps the reason people want to get in so desperately isn't just the fact that they have some of the most well crafted drinks in the city, but more-so for the dramatic entrance through the phone booth, which essentially makes this place a speakeasy. Having the entrance through Criff Dog was essential due to the lack of a 2nd liquor license. Since Criff Dog already held a New York liquor license it could essentially operate Please Don't Tell under the same establishment and license so long as there was no separate street entrance to PDT, hence the secret phone booth entrance.
Please Don't Tell has some of the most delicious and well crafted drinks I've ever tasted. Don't let the difficulty of getting in detour you from checking out this unique spot next time you are in New York!
Address: 113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009