Twenty-Eighth Avenue in Astoria is hardly a must-see location in New York. Hell, it’s hardly a must-see location in Astoria. But for those of us who call it our home, we know that a mere block from the hustling mecca of trendy sushi restaurants and techno-pumping Greek cafes that is 30th Avenue sits the complete antithesis to so much cheese and flash; the Rapture Lounge.
I was introduced to Rapture a few months after moving to the area by a neighborhood native of three years. After waiting on him at my own place of business, he insisted that I join him at “ the best neighborhood bar ever.”
And I was not disappointed. From the outside, Rapture’s red velvet ropes and somewhat 90s signage make it look more like that cheesy bar in your college town that was always filled with sorority girls on the weekends. But once you step through the front doors, the vibe is more like a chill European hostel bar, or a converted basement party space. The furniture is a mismatched amalgamy of low-slung retro couches and cool-looking chairs; the hanging paper lanterns and candles create a flattering dim ambiance; and the haphazard spread of original paintings on the exposed-brick walls are the perfect distinctive finishing touch.
In addition to having everything you could ever want in atmosphere, Rapture also has the product to back it up. On a recent return trip, I was impressed with their innovative cocktail menu (which changes seasonally and features homemade pineapple-infused tequila, yummm) and was pleasantly surprised at the deliciousness of both my guacamole and chips appetizer and my veggie pita main course. (The mainly iceberg side salad, admittedly, made me a little sad, but really, how much can you expect from a side salad replacement of fries?) And the staff is nothing to sniff at either; in my experience, they range from standard-issue jovial and helpful to downright amazing, i.e. entertaining guests with Cocktail-esque bottle-flipping and fireball-blowing.
As the brainchild of a group of bartenders who cut their teeth working at places like The Roxy, the Rapture Lounge is a perfect microcosm of its chill neighborhood surroundings while at the same time offering the product and service you would expect from an establishment owned by people who know the business. If you live anywhere within walking distance you’re doing yourself a disservice by not hitting this place up, and if you’re looking for a relaxed evening with friends outside of Manhattan, it may even be worth the haul on the N Train. Viva Rapture!
Rapture Lounge, 34-27 28th Ave. on the cnr. of 35th St. Astoria, Queens. N/W to Astoria Blvd.
By: Lyndsey Aho