My 15 year old brother is really into gangster movies and such right now, so, at the suggestion of a co-worker, I took him to Chumley's, a former speakeasy.
It was supposedly located on Bedford Street between Barrow and Grove. After walking up and down the block and not locating it, I feared that they might have closed down. We went to a nearby restaurant and were assured that it had not closed down, it was just a couple of doors away. Huh? The rest of the block was filled with entrances to apartments. A young man must have noticed the confusion on our faces. "Are you looking for Chumley's? It's right here." He said, pointing at, a simple door with no sign, no hint that it led to anything more than, maybe a dumpy apartment.
Reluctantly, we pushed back the door and opened a curtain to reveal a bar/restaurant. The decor was PERFECT! An old fireplace, tables with little lamps on them, the smell of old wood, pictures of mafia members on the walls.
I was expecting the food to be awful (but I didn't care - we were there for the ambience), however, it was pretty darn good! I had the grilled portobello mushroom and artichoke salad. It came with a delicious, warm dressing made with vinegar and sauteed onions among other ingredients. David had the ribs with french fries. The ribs weren't anything to rave about, but the FRENCH FRIES...now I'm no expert, but I think they might have been the best I ever had. They needed more salt, but they were very similar to McDonald's fries (don't scoff - you KNOW you love 'em!) except better.
Bill came to $25 (no alcohol). I've heard that late at night, it fills with Frat-boy types getting drunk and being loud, which, I'm sure would ruin the gangster mood. I suggest you go early. Oh, and good luck finding it!
Yes, definitely good burgers there. And yes, sometimes there is a fratboy contingent. But Chumley's is worth seeking out, at least for beers on a rainy afternoon, which I've done there a few times. Just don't be too loud if you're leaving via the side courtyard--the neighbors don't appreciate it too much (I saw a near fistfight because of that a couple of years back).
Just went to this place for the first time a few weeks ago. Awesome tap beers. The onion rings were good -- as were the mussels. Very cheap too.
The burgers are definitely great. I've also had the lobster plate that came with such a big lobster, that the vegetarian friend I was dining with felt the need to say a prayer over the poor creature before I devoured it. Lots of decent food at a good price. What's not to like? I always knew Chumleys to be a literary hang-out though, not a mob spot...hence all the pictures of authors and their books on the walls.
when I was in law school at NYU thirty years ago, I took great pleasure in taking visitors to Chumleys, always entering through the courtyard so that it was clear I was truly "in the know" they used to serve some kind of fish stuffed with crab. The best thing was the jukebox selection. Great place even if the food is not so hot.