As the financial equivalent of swine flu ails the economy, the awkward line, “So, uh, you want to go to dinner sometime?” should be a carefully calculated inquiry. It can be a little less calculated if you pick one of these half-dozen bars and restaurants, which we came up with through the highly scientific method of asking people who were out and about in Brooklyn last weekend.
Franklin Park Bar, 618 St. John’s Place (Crown Heights/Prospect Heights–there’s a bit of controversy) (718) 975-0196
“Franklin Park Bar has a lot of variety with two different bar spaces. I really like the one underground that’s more of a lounge-type scene. It’s also really an event space as much as a bar, with readings and live DJs.” —Patricia, Crown Heights
Tip-Top Bar, 432 Franklin Ave., Bedford Stuyvesant, (718) 857-9744
“Tip-Top has a real old school feel. Beers are $3 a bottle, mixed drinks are $4. It used to be an old illegal after-hours club, now they serve food, but there are only two things on the menu: fried fish and fried chicken. The patio is a great spot for lounging on warm summer nights.” —Kyle Huebbee, Crown Heights
Madiba Restaurant, 195 DeKalb Ave., 718-855-9190
“It’s an amazing South African restaurant right by Fort Greene Park. The food is great and not too pricey, and a lot of times you’ll hear some really great Botswana music. It feels like a cultural experience as much as dinner.” (Current special: join the mailing list to get a $10 gift certificate.) —Maricia, Fort Greene
Toby’s Public House, 686 6th Ave. (at 21st St) 718-788-1186
“They have a massive meat and cheese plate for $10. You can also get an amazing brick oven pizza, and the bathroom is lined with vintage Playboys—you know, if you need ideas to get in the mood.” (Current special: Mon. through Thurs., an individually-sized pizza and a half-pint of beer or glass of wine is $10, only at the bar.) —Rebecca Shepherd, Park Slope
Song Park Slope, 295 5th Ave, (718) 965-1108
“I’m from Mill Basin, but often trek out to Park Slope for some pretty cheap but really good Thai food, at Song. It’s a bit of a trendy place, but you can have a whole sit-down meal there for under ten bucks. And it’s delish!” —Elaine Devora, Mill Basin
Brooklyn Fireproof East Bar, 119 Ingraham St.
“It’s a totally new place that opened on Ingraham Street in Bushwick. It’s great, I can drop in to get my coffee in the morning then four hours later come back for a beer. It’s not on everyone’s radar yet, but it’s definitely worth checking out for a date.” —JoAnn Berman, Bushwick
Got a place to add to this list? Tell us all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.