True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
Fast Eddie’s Billiards Cafe takes playing pool and drinking beer to the next level. Sure, the standard domestics are available, but besides the expected lagers and neon signs, Fast Eddie’s boasts an impressive menu of craft brews. More than 50 choices include Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Allagash White, and Smuttynose Robust porter. Imported beer, wine, and premium liquor are also available to add entertainment to billiards tournaments.
Perhaps it’s the slow, bluesy chords flowing from the guitarist in the corner that compel the customer to put down her drink, pick up a stick of chalk, and scrawl a wistful message on the bar. Or perhaps it’s the flicker of candles––their golden halos staving off the city night––that has inspired this misty-eyed inscription. Far from being annoyed at the graffiti now adorning his workspace, the bartender leans over to read the patron’s message, smiling knowingly at the freshly penned late-night bulletin. With a grin and a poured glass of wine, he coaxes a smile from her as she swipes her words from the board.
Such intimate, inviting evenings are a regular occurrence at Sweet Grapes Wine Bar, where a vast collection of vinous libations and snacks keep guests chatting and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The chalkboard-topped bar affords customers a blank expanse to fill with favorite quotes or high-school locker combinations, while an ever-changing lineup of musicians floods the space with live tunes on a regular basis.
Fusing the best parts of a posh New York nightspot and a low-key Moroccan hideaway, Disiac Lounge graces nightly crowds with a menu of falafels, paninis, and cheese plates to pair with a panoply of sumptuous cocktails. Plush red stools line the neon-lit bar, where tenders whip up a host of chocolate-liqueur-infused libations, stir signature martinis in 16 flavors, and pour spirits aged in the choicest of camel humps. Bedecked with hints of crimson and gold, the intimate lounge plays host to a daily happy hour, and can be reserved in advance for private parties. Profilers from New York magazine praise the laid-back lounge for its mesmerizing interior, and maintain the bar's real draw lies in "pleasant patio […] laden with lanterns and Moroccan-style poufs for perching." Readers also chimed in with an almost-perfect 9 out of 10 review, only previously achieved when Roger Ebert reviewed the film adaptation of Ebert: An Autobiography.
Like any good basement, Cellar 58 is full of secrets. Hidden in the back of the East Village eatery is a wine-tasting room—recently described as "elegant" by New York magazine—that shelters more than 150 varietals hailing from such overlooked countries as Greece and Bulgaria. Two-dozen wines can be poured by the glass, including several culled from the vineyards of Italy, France, and similarly eminent regions.
There also lurks a surprising treasure in the front dining room. Marble-topped tables play host to entrees and small plates prepared by chef Fabio Bano, who comes to Cellar 58 from the ultra-private Soho House. Using cooking methods that he learned and perfected in Italy, Bano handcrafts pastas and inventive desserts, which, like top-secret memos, melt satisfyingly upon entering the mouth.
As noted in its Zagat rating, Wine bar's intimate table arrangements "make it easy to make new friends." Indeed, from their perch at the long, flower-adorned tables, gathered groups pass around assorted pan-European small plates as new acquaintances clink glasses of sophisticated vino culled from the impressive collection dominating the wall space. Soft lighting glints off this East Village café's crimson accents, reflecting off the tables' glossy wood and illuminating sharable French cheese plates, Italian flatbreads drizzled with truffle oil, and exotic gelato flavors. Winebar's more than 100 varietals hail mainly from Italy, France, and Spain, sparking conversations of worldly travels, semesters abroad, and fruitless pursuits of Carmen Sandiego as guests sip by candlelight or quaff al fresco on the seasonal sidewalk patio.