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Upstairs/downstairs: Restaurants and bars branch out with subterranean spaces

How about this two-for-one deal. The modern speakeasy is not a new phenomenon in NYC (hello, Acme and Ginny's Supper Club). But over the past few months, several bars and restaurants have branched out with subterranean spaces, complete with different names, decor, cocktails and bites. Here are four upstairs/downstairs joints to know.

Upstairs: Anejo

Lunch, dinner and brunch are on the menu
Photo Credit: Anejo

Lunch, dinner and brunch are on the menu at former "Top Chef" contestant Angelo Sosa's contemporary Mexican restaurant and bar, which boasts a large collection of tequilas and mezcals. After opening in 2012 in Hell's Kitchen, the restaurant brought its margaritas, ceviches and tacos to this TriBeCa location last year.

Downstairs: Abajo

Take the back stairwell downstairs to this mezcal
Photo Credit: Abajo

Take the back stairwell downstairs to this mezcal speakeasy, which opened under the TriBeCa Anejo last month (abajo literally translates to downstairs, down or under in Spanish). The new spot is serving street food such as gyro tacos, a torta burger and fried guacamole alongside specialty cocktails like El Hipster two nights a week Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to about 2 a.m., with plans to eventually expand to either Thursday or Sunday nights as well. 301 Church St., 212-920-6270

Upstairs: Jacques 1534

Restaurateur Jacques Ouari's mini NYC empire includes the
Photo Credit: Jacques 1534

Restaurateur Jacques Ouari's mini NYC empire includes the long-running Jacques Brasserie, newish French-Mexican fusion place Epazote and this Nolita French gastropub. Find typical French fare for lunch, brunch and dinner, including French onion soup, escargot and five takes on mussels and fries, alongside a menu of signature cocktails.

Downstairs: Shorty

Ouari has been playing with the downstairs space
Photo Credit: Paul Gelsobello

Ouari has been playing with the downstairs space for a while, most recently using it for private events, but its latest incarnation takes the form of this eclectic cocktail den. Once you go through a wooden door adjacent to Jacques underneath a neon SHORTY sign and down the stairs, order drinks from a cocktail menu courtesy of Johnny Swet (JIMMY, The Skylark) and select light bites from Jacques, such as oysters, thin-crust pizza and truffle French fries, which are also available. 20 Prince St., 212-966-5073

Upstairs: Tijuana Picnic

Nightlife mavens Jon Neidich and Jean-Marc Houmard of
Photo Credit: Andrew Kist

Nightlife mavens Jon Neidich and Jean-Marc Houmard of Acme are behind this restaurant, which opened this past fall, while Jim Kearns of the NoMad Hotel, Death & Co., Pegu Club and Mayahuel fame helms the cocktail program. The restaurant specializes in Mexican-Asian fare, which translates to duck wings with Asian spices, short ribs with kimchi and churros with yuzu on the menu. As for drinks, cocktails are heavy on the mezcal and include margaritas and a Mayan Michelada (mezcal, especial, Cholula, agave and lime).

Downstairs: Tico's Tequila Bar

Last month, this late-night bar opened with 45
Photo Credit: Tico's Tequila Bar

Last month, this late-night bar opened with 45 tequilas, 40 mezcals and rare pours behind the bar. Kearns and Lynnette Marrero crafted the cocktail menu, which includes a series of agave spirits flights. Order from the upstairs food menu or a late-night one. To get there, look for the neon One tequila, two tequila, three tequila sign in Tijuana Picnic and descend. 151 Essex St., 212-219-2000

Upstairs: The Happiest Hour

This retro, palm tree-adorned bar opened this past
Photo Credit: Zandy Mangold

This retro, palm tree-adorned bar opened this past fall, with, hello again, Acme's Jon Neidich and bartender Jim Kearns behind the popular Greenwich Village spot. The cocktails range from classics (Tom Collins, Manhattan) to signature creations such as the Maid To Order (that's mint, cucumber, lime juice and your choice of gin, rum or tequila). There's decent bar food, too, including the crowd-pleasing, two-patty Happiest Burger, fried chicken and ice cream sundaes.

Downstairs: Slowly Shirley

Just like at Acme and Tijuana Picnic, Neidich
Photo Credit: Max Zagor

Just like at Acme and Tijuana Picnic, Neidich always intended The Happiest Hour to be a bi-level space, and the downstairs came to fruition late last month. The sophisticated lounge, whose entrance is in the more laid-back upstairs, rocks a 1940s Hollywood-era vibe. The cocktail menu, crafted by Kearns and his staff, includes the standout Tahitian Coffee, pictured, a rum-based drink for two with Stumptown cold brew served in a Chemex coffee maker. To eat, there's the upstairs menu and other bar fare available. 121 W. 10th St., 212-243-2827

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