Penthouse Tavern. A restaurant that’s searchable on Google, has an address in uptown Hoboken, a website, some reviews…and a password to get in. Some locals claim to have gone in person and even raved about it in reviews. But, is it a real restaurant that has an “exclusive dining experience”? The Hoboken Girl investigates — and we have an update as of May 2, 2022.
The Low Down on Penthouse Tavern
Penthouse Tavern’s website, which launched in 2020, states, “With 20 years of experience cooking in the finest restaurants, our chef, Dick Steves, is excited to present their vision to you and all our guests. Our caring and committed staff make sure you have a fantastic experience with us. Experience an elegant and incredibly intimate dining experience with us. Our goal is to provide save-worthy plated fares supplemented by warm company, stories, and experiences directly from our staff. We show our confidence in our craft, by first preparing gourmet entrees, and then joining our guests in a feast to remember.”
What sets the restaurant apart is that it’s an “exclusive dining experience” in which you need an invite or a password to make a reservation or be allowed inside. The website continues, “In order to qualify, guests must personally know the staff or provide the secret phrase upon a reservation request.”
The pay structure at this restaurant is one-of-a-kind: it’s donation-based as “regular payments are not accepted.” Why? “Our Mission is to provide an eccentric dining experience unlike any boutique restaurant in the NYC Metro area, developing a strong inner social network of delightful souls who enjoy exquisite food together.”
The website also gives a sneak peek to the menu, which includes scallops de Loki’s linguine and Birdy’s lemon dill seared salmon. There’s also a mystery item.
Although there is a clickable button to “reserve now” and “donate,” neither link works. The only way of contacting the restaurant is by sending a message through the website, which is found on the bottom right of the homepage. Penthouse Tavern is so secretive that there isn’t even a contact number listed on Google.
The hours of operation, according to Google, are 5PM to 12AM seven days a week, except for Saturday in which the restaurant opens at 3PM.
A reader recently shared with us the story of a spoof restaurant called ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ — which has similar vibes to this story, found on Wikipedia.
What The Reviews Say
The reviews of Penthouse Tavern are found on Google and Restaurant Guru. With 19 reviews on Google, the private restaurant received 4.6 stars.
Here are some examples of reviews on Penthouse Tavern:
Mike Zill: “Food and drinks are amazing, and vibe is speakeasy/modern, Def recommend for a good night with s.o. or friends. Out of all bars in hoboken, penthouse is by far the best. Ask for the Loki Tonic (not on the menu), it’s absurdly good.”
Andrew Price: “Really nice atmosphere, a little pricey. You’d come for the drinks and nice skyline view, not the food. I love the selection of daiquiris, but my chicken wings were a bit bland.”
Joel Hughes: “My friends had been talking up this place for weeks and I am so glad I finally got to go! The drinks are good, the view is spectacular, and the food satisfies. You’re definitely paying for the atmosphere, but it is worth it. I felt immediately ‘at home’ and the exclusive nature of this gem made me feel like a true VIP. Gets a little loud, but all in good fun. Good luck getting in on a Friday night!”
Nicholas Sheridan: “Location, location, location. Hands down the best rooftop bar in Hoboken, look at this view!! Also the rum ham was to to die for!”
Ryan Esposito: “Looking for the best cocktails in an exclusive bar in Hoboken? This is it. Extremely intimate and exclusive place. Perfect for an anniversary or date night. Everything from the service, cocktails, and food was impeccable. Just a word of advice, you need to know the password.”
Restaurant Guru has ranked Penthouse Tavern no. 77 pubs and bars in Hoboken out of 197. There are 18 visitors’ opinions on this website, most of whom are the same people who left reviews on Google.
Clues That Giveaway Its True Identity
While all the reviews make it seem like a restaurant you have to check out, we are sad to report that there are many clues that lead HG to believe it’s completely made up and not a real restaurant.
- Update as of May 2, 2020: Due to some doubters, we continued our investigation.
- We did a reverse image search of the two images on Penthouse Tavern’s website. And found:
- The first image of the so-called ‘bar’ was found to be a restaurant in England’s image — visible on this website as an original design by a London design firm.
- Another update: The second image on the Penthouse Tavern website next to the ‘DONATION’ button is a stock image. It can be viewed at this link here with the hyperlink that even says ‘stock’ in the URL, meaning it was uploaded from a free stock image site and the images never changed. Click here to see the stock image (from their website).
- And another: The people commenting on their social all follow eachother. Full stop. (But we’ll continue, anyway.) They did, however, block the writer of this article on Instagram since this went live — another red flag.
- The address is an apartment building: Penthouse Tavern’s address on Google states it’s 1 14 Street, Hoboken, NJ. This is the address of the apartment building, North Constitution at the Shipyard. The entire block is the apartment building, The Shipyard Fitness Center, and the parking garage. HG called the leasing office and a spokesperson confirmed there is no restaurant inside the building and the rooftop only has pools, not a rooftop bar. In addition, a person working the front desk of The Sovereign, an apartment building across the street, told HG he never heard of “Penthouse Tavern,” and said the only restaurants nearby he knew of were Turning Point and Cowabunga café.
- Chef Dick Steves, who has 20 years of fine dining experience, isn’t searchable: Is this a real chef? If you Google, the only “Chef Dick Steves” that comes up is the one listed on Penthouse Tavern’s website and on the Reddit thread. One user wrote, “This has gotta be a joke cooked up by some bros who live in the Shipyard. Look at the chef’s name on the website. Also the google reviews seem a bit sarcastic.”
- The photos continue to be of other restaurants: The Google images that were uploaded by people who claimed to have gone to the restaurant have been discovered elsewhere on the world wide web. Apart from stock images of the NYC skyline and cocktails, one photo appearing to be the inside bar of Penthouse Tavern is actually from a St. Louis, Missouri, restaurant called Charlie’s Gitto’s on the Hill. The other big giveaway is the main image on the website. This one was taken from a restaurant in London called Bandol.
- There’s no registered business: Any business owner would know that you need to register your business for it to be official. There is no registered “Penthouse Tavern” business listed on the NJ portal of businesses. It also isn’t found as a business or indoor/outdoor dining place on Hoboken Business Alliance’s website.
- There is *almost* no social media presence: Penthouse Tavern can’t be found on Facebook — but does have an Instagram. However, it’s still pretty limited activity. If people who left reviews claim that there are crowds at this place, you’d think there would be a lot of social media activity including hashtags and location tags but there’s none of that.
With all these clues, it’s safe to say there is no real Penthouse Tavern. Email us if you can prove we’re wrong. We’re still waiting 😉
Some questions we have are: Who were the masterminds behind the website? (We think it was some guys who left the reviews.) Were the founders that bored during the pandemic that they found entertainment by creating this? Are all the people leaving the reviews friends? If the donation button isn’t working, has it ever worked and have the founders made any money off of a faux business?
HG attempted to get in touch with the founders by leaving a message on the website. The writer of this article did receive a text message in response which read: “This is penthouse tavern. We have deemed your request sufficient to respond to – Be honored.” The writer then asked if she could make a reservation, in which the text reply was “password?”
The writer then continued to ask for permission to go inside to check out the place and take photos to go along with this story and the only response back was “incorrect [password].” The person who texted mentioned they were the owner but did not provide a name, and when the writer attempted to call the number, she never got a call back. Something’s fishy!
Have you been? Email us — and prove it.