No-Frills Bar Where You Can Just Drink, Now That’s Refreshing


The Lower East Side is so stuffed with places to drink that bars are steadily trickling south of Delancey and into the chic redevelopment of once nightlife-less streets where the L.E.S. and Chinatown converge. And with area destinations like East Side Company, King Size, and Good World holding their own, that trickle’s likely to become a flood. Clandestino, a new addition to the area, shouldn’t be dismissed as another hidden hot spot with a mixologist-designed cocktail list. On a recent evening, when asked about specialty drinks, the bartender recommended a Guinness ($5) and a shot of Powers whiskey ($4). Like the drinks, the space is no-frills. There’s a mahogany bar, votives sit on the few tables near the front windows and sweep slivers of candlelight around the room, and patrons are welcome to tinker around on a piano tucked into a corner. Drink choices have a casual simplicity. Beers, featuring ale-snob favorites like Chimay and Hoegaarden, range from $5 to $6. Wine options are handwritten on a chalkboard with Idiot’s Guide frankness: Red is listed from light to full, white from sweet to dry, and all under $9. The picnicish food menu is minimal, featuring only bread with Brie, Comté, Roquefort, pâté, or ham priced from $3 to $7. From its affordable prices and affectless decor, it’s clear that Clandestino is an ode to the neighborhood bar. Amid upscale venues stretching throughout the neighborhood, it’s a comforting option for a down-to-earth evening.