1. (in Germany) the cellar of a town hall, often used as a beer hall or restaurant.
  2. a restaurant patterned on the German rathskeller, usually located below street level.

1900, from German ratskeller, earlier rathskeller, “a cellar in a German town hall in which beer is sold,” from rat “council” (see rede (n.)) + keller “cellar” (see cellar (n.)). The German -h- inserted to avoid association with the word for “rat.”

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