A No-Name Destination Serves Up Tchotchkes and Tipples

Dim and bear it.
photo: Cary Conover
Dim and bear it.

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Café Bar
32-90 36th Street
Astoria, Queens
718.204.5273

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A few blocks from the rumble of the N train, amid the silent white-gated yards of Astoria's mini-palaces, Café Bar beckons with the pleasant oom-chas of Eurodance-lite. The inside could have been scavenged from a 1970s wood-paneled rec room, the set of Blow-Up, and Grandma's post-war Hong Kong souvenirs—there's not a white light in the house. The low vinyl couches by the door give way to candlelit Formica tables with mismatched chairs, where neighborhood couples sit and sip hot apple cider laced with brandy ($7) or share a bottle of Notios ($25), a dry and fruity Greek red. A huge screen casts a glow on the solo guys at the bar, who will be happy to chat you up as you sip your Corona ($5) and stare at the little glowing Buddha fountain. Bartenders patiently mix their customers' favorite cocktails ($8), which, though no great bargain, cost less than your average Manhattan novelty drink. Especially recommended are a cachaça-less caipirinha (Rum Toucano, lime, and sugar) and the espresso martini (Stoli, Kahlúa, and a shot of espresso). The Mediterranean-influenced menu has many vegetarian and vegan treats as well as meat and cheese dishes that provide plenty of cushion for your libations.

 
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