It’s easy to get lost in the distinctive magic that radiates through Grove Street. From local pizzerias and gastropubs to restaurants that cater to every palate, we sing its praises all the time. And while there are plenty of places to raise a glass or two, it seems as though the newest trend on the block is the speakeasy culture. Speakeasies first came about during prohibition in the 1920s when alcohol was illegal. All these years later they’re still around, but now, less out of necessity and more out of curiosity and fun. Read on for what we know about 143 Social, a new speakeasy open underneath Bareburger in Jersey City.
How to Get There
Located right on the pedestrian plaza of Newark Avenue, and a stone’s throw from Grove Street path is Bareburger, owned by Arto Ozgun, which is famous for its burger, salad, and fries. “We have over seven locations in New Jersey, and the cocktail bar concept is the first of its kind,” said Gabriel Rieben, General Manager, and Beverage Director at 143 Social. Gabriel has played a part in managing and designing beverages at some of the other popular bars around town, dullboy, Cellar 335, and Madame to name a few.
The bright and airy feel of the restaurant upstairs almost makes it hard to guess that there is a secret hideaway that sits beneath it. What differentiates it from other speakeasies is that there is no secret passcode or signage for entry — think of it more like an internal network of members (or should we say HG readers) who know about it and spread the word. To get here, walk straight through the main entrance of Bareburger and take the stairs down. Once you see the black and white tiled floors, make a slight left, and prepare yourself to be transported into something new.
As you slink in through the small corridor, it almost feels like an escape from the urban jungle that sits above. The entrance is lined with tasteful wines from France, and the vibe is incredibly chic, kind of like the living room of a stylish home. It’s hard to miss the bright neon sign that reads ‘143 Social’. Gabriel shared the inspiration behind the name and why it just fits right — “In the retro days of communicating via the beeper code, 143 translated into I love you. This is a place where you can be social and fall in love with the food, vibe, and drinks. Coincidentally, it also happens to be at 143 Newark Avenue.”
While the captivating wallpaper, plush seating, and dim-lit ambiance fill the room, this speakeasy is brought to life with the buzzing crowd, an electric fireplace in the center of the room, and a decorative bar lined with a selection of the finest spirits. The overall feel is cozy, with an option to grab a seat by the bar while watching the bartenders skillfully at work, or by the couches and intimate tables that fill the center of the room. There is also a DJ who comes in every Friday + Saturday at 9PM.
With a cocktail menu curated by Head Bartender Daniel LoDrago and Beverage Director Gabriel Rieben, this spot has the art and craft to whip up the perfect drink. One can expect to find a selection of spirits, imported wines, and beer. The drinks are innovatively mixed and numerically named (yes, it is indeed Number 1, Number 2, Number 3, etc). The cocktail menu currently runs up to Number 17 and with each new season, the count goes up. Gabriel shares that the team plans to have a grand celebration when cocktail Number 143 hits the menu so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
The bartenders use special mixology techniques such as fat-washing, cocktail foam (think Aperol Spritz in a foam texture mixed with Bimini Coconut Gin), and a quirky twist on the classic old-fashioned with honey + saffron. Aside from the spirit itself, every drop used to produce the impeccable concoctions of cocktails, from the juices to the wide range of 27 syrups, is whipped up fresh. Lost for choice, we inevitably turned to Gabriel for the top recommendations for first-timers. Number 1 (old-fashioned) and Number 3 (tequila-mezcal mixed with watermelon, lemon, and pear) were the top choices.
As for the eats, it’s the creative brilliance of the Executive Chef at Bareburger and is a limited selection of small bites along with intricate dishes that complement the secretive ambiance. Some top recommendations include the Stracciatella made with chive oil and roasted mini san marzano tomatoes, served with grilled focaccia; Wagyu beef sliders with brie, black garlic aioli, + crispy onions; and the marinated charred octopus with truffled parmesan potatoes, avocado mousse, + red pepper coulis. The culinary artistry comes across through the food which is photogenic and delicious.
With tantalizing updates of the food + drinks on Instagram, Gabriel shares it’s been a full house since the opening in May 2023. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended to snag a good spot. In the coming days, locals can expect to hear about happy hours and custom events like Tiki Night, Whiskey Night, and more.