Hide from the daylight on your next excursion
This week, Alive explores Actors' Theatre of Columbus' Shakespeare Underground series, and that has us diving deep to compile this list of subterranean bars, restaurants and event spaces.
The Light of Seven Matchsticks
The basement speakeasy below Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza is found by walking down a set of nondescript stairs near the front door. It takes its name from a fictional book in Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom,” and that tells you all you need to know about the decor and atmosphere. Menus are tucked into old books, with original and traditional cocktails given kitschy names.
Brick American Kitchen
Brick makes its home in the lower level of a Brewery District building that once served as the malt house for the long-gone Schlee's Brewery. The restaurant and event space (also the former home of the famous Handke's Cuisine) was once the lagering room for the brewery, and features vaulted brick ceilings.
This Downtown deli can be found in the lower level of a Front Street building, just south of Broad. Dive down there for corned beef hash, deli sandwiches and burgers.
Barley's Brewing features a second bar and event space in the lower level of its building. Built in the late 1800s, the space includes brick arches, old stone walls and strings of bright lights. Fun fact: Underground used to open onto the street, with access to the Union train station. In order to prevent horse and motor traffic from mixing dangerously with pedestrians, a street was built above ground level. Eventually nearby buildings grew up to meet it.
The new Veritas restaurant space Downtown is technically at street level, but the dining room and kitchen inhabit the lower level of the building. You can spy it from Gay Street, and even watch the kitchen crew at work through the windows. The upstairs of the structure, formerly the Citizens Bank building, includes a cocktail bar in the old bank lobby.
Notes is the downstairs entertainment venue for Copious, a restaurant in German Village/Brewery District. The music spot features a small bar menu of nachos, sliders, burgers and wings — all to pair with a solid wine and whiskey selection.
Graze on Capitol Square
The fast-casual eatery Graze focuses on seasonal ingredients for its sandwiches, burgers and customizable lunch plates. It's hard to beat the digs, too. Graze makes its home in the basement of the Ohio Statehouse, sitting under vaulted brick ceilings and surrounded by museum items.
This subterranean board-game parlor hides out in the basement of a High Street and Buttles Avenue building in the Short North. In addition to an ever-growing assortment of games, it features sodas, wine and beer, and local snacks from Krema, Rogue Bakery and Darista Dips.