Would it be odd to describe the new combination burger joint with adjoining cocktail lounge the mullet of Lower East Side restaurants...but it in a good way? It's swanky business up top, casual feeding party below, a dichotomy of styles all contained within a single space. Meet The Burgery and upstairs cocktail den Garfunkels, both now fully operational on Clinton Street a block north of Delancey.
The second floor "secret" cocktail bar opened first a few months back, though walking past you'd have no idea it was up there save for a well-dressed door attendant who might engage if you appear bewildered while staring at the (then) under-construction storefront. Before its more boisterous sibling opened, Garfunkels lived in relative obscurity, serving drinks with names like Fancy Free, At Midnight and Queen's Park Swizzle in something akin to a Victorian drawing room, replete with stacks of books, mirrors and cozy couches to melt into after a few rounds of bourbon cocktails.
Both establishments are run by Tim Gashi and Valentino Gjekaj, lifelong friends who've been involved in the restaurant business through their fathers' restaurants and their own, which include Rocky Slims and Arte. For their collaborative effort, the duo are combining two of NYC's most enduring new trends: fast casual eats and mixology. "This neighborhood needs something straightforward and simple," Gashi explains of The Burgery, though the process for getting upstairs isn't quite as easy (more on that below).
Downstairs, diners can plop down on bar stools and some booths to munch on build-your-own burgers with a proprietary Pat LaFrieda beef blend or one of their "Burgar" and sandwich combos including the Lower Eastsider ($14) with pastrami, gruyere cheese, Pickle Guys sour pickles and horseradish mustard on a toasted rye roll. Sides like tots and fries are $4 extra—$10 if they're the Tater Tatchos topped with cheese sauce, pico, jalapenos and beans—and there are Il Laboratorio Del Gelato shakes in Rootbeer Float and Toasted S'mores flavors to sip.
Beers and cocktails can be procured downstairs, too, but upstairs is where the sipping takes priority. Reservations aren't strictly necessary, but those who have them are given priority in the seating-room-only upstairs space. Those with pre-booked seats are given an access code (which changes nightly) to gain entry via old bank vault doors in the back of the burger joint, a nod to the space's former home as the corrupt bank firm Garfunkel & Tauster in the 1920s.
67 Clinton Street, 212-529-6999, The Burgery is on the ground floor, Garfunkel's on the second floor