Subterranean: adjective- meaning secret; or concealed.
New York City is the city that never sleeps and is known for the hustle and bustle. But, what happens if you want something less congested, a chic little hideaway hidden from the prying eyes of the street? Are there bars where you can take a close friend or lover for drinks and food, without having to shout across the table because the music and the patrons are too loud?
When you’re looking to grab some adult beverages, New York has something for every taste and personality. Bars where you can catch your favorite sport, dive bars recalling the grit of the 1980s, karaoke bars, strip bars, Irish pubs, and rooftop bars with stellar views of the skyline. But also subterranean options, too.
Here are seven subterranean bars to check out the next time you’re in The Big Apple.
1. The Tippler
The Tippler, a sexy haunt in a cellar below Chelsea Market, is very easy to miss from the street, because the name is so small.
Look for another, brighter sign that says “OPEN,” step through the doors, and head on down.
Even when the young, corporate types are knocking back cocktails after a trying work week, the volume never gets out of hand. There isn’t a rule that explicitly enforces this, it’s just understood.
For seating, there’s the bar itself, which is quite long, tables for small groups, and intimate little nooks tucked into the shadows where you can sit thigh to thigh with your boo.
There are specialty cocktails, beers, and snacks (not meals) on the menu.
2. The Ship
Down on Lafayette Street is The Ship, once described by The New Yorker as a place where “Captain Haddock would meet Tintin.”
Grubstreet went on to credit it as one of the handful of bars in New York that keep “the tradition of downscale drinking alive.”
Grab some tasty nibbles like The White Pizza and the Tuna Tartare, and pair them with a Moscow Mule, a Painkiller or a Stella Artois.
3. Bootlegger Jacks
This animated speakeasy in Astoria, Queens is located underneath Uncle Jack’s Meat House.
Aside from the clearly modern music, you can almost imagine you’re in The Great Gatsby era, with the crystal chandeliers, ornate wallpaper, and the lamps with fringes.
To further the shady, illicit feel of the 1920s, you’ll need a code from the doorman or the manager in order to get access to the bar, which is part of the fun.
Once you have that, head to the entrance, which is connected to the bathroom of The Meat House.
4. Figure Nineteen
On Chrystie Street in Manhattan is Figure Nineteen at the rear of an art gallery.
The website describes it as “decadent with masculine accents and art-adorned walls, making for an impressive entrance every time.”
Some of the signature cocktails include Polly Jean with prosecco, lemon and floral raspberry liqueur, and the mysterious Midnight in Paris, with reposado tequila, Vedrenne cream de cacao, ginger syrup, lemon, and mole bitters.
Technically, it isn’t subterranean, as you don’t have to go downstairs to get there. Still, it manages to conjure that, underground feel.
If a speakeasy had a child with a traveling carnival, Basement would be the result.
Located on Mott Street in Manhattan, this is a great spot to take a date for darts and beer pong, which you probably haven’t played since college. And since the lighting is low, that sexy ambiance is omnipresent.
Enjoy interesting twists on classic drinks like the Chinatown Old Fashioned with a Hibiki Whiskey infused with popcorn flavor. As strange as that sounds, try it. You might actually be pleased.
6. Little Branch
Little Branch is a cocktail bar in the West Village, with a conservative color palette, dim lights, low ceilings, and bartenders in suspenders.
Here, making drinks is a serious art, and if you aren’t sure exactly what you’d like, let the bartender know your preferred liquor, and he (or she) will take it from there.
You can hang out at the bar itself, or sit in one of the cozy booths.
This awesome bar on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn isn’t subterranean. But it features “underground” artists, so it makes the cut.
If you like house music and want to support some great local DJs, this is the spot to be.
Entry is inexpensive (provided there’s a cost at all). Even with a DJ spinning live, it’s still possible to talk normally.
The empanadas are tasty, available in beef, chicken and vegetarian variety, but don’t make the mistake of biting into them right away. The contents are piping hot.
The pizza choices are good: mushroom with white truffle oil, pepperoni, prosciutto, and plain.
Drinks include various cocktails, beers (on draft or by the can) and sodas.