Underground Café: Service to a Science
Arrive early to beat the typical lunch crowd rush at Exchange District hot spot Underground Café.
It’s neither intimate or quiet, but what Underground Café lacks in slick sophistication, it makes up for in quirky charm and great, homespun meals. And it packs ‘em in every day.
The from-scratch menu is an ode to the lunch counter from tuna melts to egg-salad sandwiches and BLTs to daily soups.
Located in the basement of an office building on Arthur Street, the space is dark but not dreary. Indeed, the decor—black walls festooned with cartoon murals—adds some life to the locale. There are no corner booths or interior walls for hushed conversations.
On a recent lunchtime visit, only two of an estimated 25 tables were free upon a 12:30 arrival. Within minutes, many of the tables had already turned over and new diners flooded in.
The staff (my count, just four of them on the floor and two in the kitchen) has service down to a science. As one swooped in for a drink order, another delivered the beverages within about two minutes. The food also arrived hot and within just minutes. Seems like fast and hot should be a given but some eateries just can’t even seem to get a handle on those basics.
Obviously, Underground Café’s formula to success works. In 2013, the eatery will celebrate its 20th anniversary, a huge milestone in the restaurant business.
Insider’s tip: They also make a fantastic veggie burger, which is appropriately named “The Fantastic Sun Burger.” The patty is a melange of sesame and sunflower seeds, rice, cheeses, spices and eggs. It’s served on a toasted bagel with tangy lime-dill sauce, romaine, green peppers, tomatoes and onion.
The daily specials are posted online every day.
The café is only open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and never open on “anything remotely resembling a holiday,” according to a note on the menu.