If you duck into Samad's Gourmet for a loaf of fresh Mediterranean bread, you might hear footsteps on the ceiling or the strains of soft music rumbling from above. Upstairs, the Heights Bar & Grill is in full swing, as Columbia students and locals chatter animatedly and bartenders dart about, blending frozen margaritas and mixing mojitos. Their faces are illuminated by strings of colorful lights and cooled in the summer by a breeze that drifts in through tall windows. The mood is equally lively on the third-floor roof deck, where guests clink pint-size drinks over overstuffed burritos and mountains of meaty nachos. Others recline on sofas, listening to the hum of the streets or of Broadway below. During winter months, the deck is covered with a retractable roof, shielding patrons from snow and wind.
In 13 words, New York Magazine succinctly described the low-key, yet decidedly cultured vibe inside Barcibo Enoteca: " The wine list is gigantic, the post-Lincoln Center crowds are surprisingly not." From its station adjacent to the illustrious concert hall, the intimate, two-level wine bar trades exclusively in Italian varietals—more than 130 bottles, to be exact. With a little advice from the knowledgeable staff, diners can imbibe on Tuscans and Piedmontese, as well as more uncommon wines such as as Mesa Buio and Foradori. The wine list includes 40 options by the glass and also features artisan bourbons and craft beers. To complement the libations, a menu crafted with sharing in mind features such Italian flavors as grilled sweet sausage risotti, baked veal meatballs, and prosciutto Panini. With 65 seats, Barcibo Enoteca is an expansion of its nearby sister wine bar, Bin 71. Guests dwell in two dining rooms, nestling into high leather booths with marble tables illuminated by Edison-bulb lanterns.
Though its name implies a worn out, old hole-in-the-wall-style bar, Dive 75 defies expectations. Here, warm lighting casts over a gleaming wooden bar that supports elbows as guests dig into expansive upscale menu and sip single-malt scotches and choose from a lengthy list of bourbons, tequilas, and wines. The chefs whip up more than just bar peanuts and popcorn, instead fashioning plates brimming with seafood, a range of vegetarian burgers and sandwiches, and a bountiful array of breakfast meals. They further dazzle taste buds with options such as Quebecois poutine and buffalo-met hot dogs, all cooked in trans-fat-free oil, which patrons sample amid views of the expansive built-in aquarium.
Named after the iconic Central Park monument, Cleopatra’s Needle has earned a reputation of its own with a daily schedule of open mics, jam sessions, and jazz performances. As one might expect, the club’s menu references Egypt and other Mediterranean locales, though its cocktail list is classic New York—martinis, wines, and frozen drinks are all well represented. While the performers are taking a break to warm up their vocal cords or massage the grand piano’s tense strings, guests can watch local sports on the big screen.
Rose petals speckle the candlelit stairway that descends into Shalel Lounge, establishing a romantic vibe that permeates the entire space. As vanilla smoke curls from a smoldering incense stick, guests canoodle in shadowy corners or private cavernous rooms. Here and there, lanterns and sequined throw pillows channel a Moroccan aesthetic that extends to the menu, which includes marinated olives, bruschetta, and lamb cigars. Each small dish occupies a square ceramic, supplying three or four heavily spiced bites. According to Serious Eats, Shalel Lounge is best suited for "a sexytime date."
Beneath a 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling, patrons admire murals hand-painted by famed Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans. Bartender’s choices and seasonal selections rotate into a regular menu that includes rare scotches, small-batch whiskeys, and cocktails such as a passion royale with passion-fruit vodka, champagne, and fresh limejuice.