The Secret of Ordering: Off The Menu

American cut burger New York City off the menu

Is there anything cooler than ordering something that isn’t on the menu? But you can’t just walk into Spago and order a grilled cheese– ordering off the menu takes a knowledge of the restaurant, the chef, and cuisine, so how do you become in the know? Off The Menu. The free app gives you secret menu items at hundreds of restaurants in cities around the US and Canada, instantly making you the most badass person at the table.

Off The Menu had a roundabout inception. “About 13 years ago, I moved from Toronto to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film,” creator Lawrence Longo explains. “In Hollywood, a lot of deals are done over breakfast, lunch, or dinner… I’d be eating with people I considered tastemakers and trendsetters. Countless times…my colleagues [ordered] items that weren’t on the menu.” When he asked how this magic was performed, they always said the same thing: you had to be in the know. “From that moment on, I would always inquire to my servers if they had any ‘off the menu’ items and I would keep notes…” Off The Menu makes a distinction between secret menu items and specials. “A special is only available for that night only. Off the menu is always available, but never on the menu.”

Eight years later, Longo found himself with a list of about 200 deliciously secret eats, ranging from high-end restaurants to fast food. “I wasn’t sure what to do with it other than impress colleagues, friends, and dates.” He sold his pitch for an “Off The Menu” TV show, but realized this was something he needed to take charge of himself. He knew the perfect platform for this closely guarded information was an app.

Users of the app aren’t the only ones excited about it, restaurants are equally happy. “It allows their customers to feel special. It gives chefs something new to create.”

The app is so simple you could even sneak a peek on a date. Tap on one of the 28 cities you happen to find yourself dining in and scroll through until you find the restaurant. There you’ll find a description of the secret item as well as price and tips for ordering it.

By March, the app should extend to 30 cities, and more are constantly being added. The ability to make reservations and even order take-out are in the works through partnerships and will be included in the coming months.

“Our goal,” Longo says, “is to make everyone’s dining experience more exciting!” It’s working.