What it is: A cozy spot dedicated to art, food, drinks, and great live music in the heart of Crown Heights.
Why we love it: We come for the drinks and the tapas-style bar food, but stay for the nightly live music. Owned by a chef/ resterateur and a successful music promoter, this bar/ restaurant/ music venue is the best of all three worlds.
What to order: If you’re a seafood fan, order a heaping helping of mussels or a highly recommended serving of shrimp and grits. If you’re not a seafood fan, order any of their amazing tapas-style small plates. Be sure to check out their long list of beers and wines for a good pairing (or, if you’re like us, something cheap.)
Regular tip: Check their Facebook before you visit for a list of nightly live music acts.
What it is: Adorable, kitschy neighborhood spot with bar food, patio, and open mic night.
Why we love it: Prices are reasonable, there’s a full menu of southern-inspired bar food, staff is friendly. Pretty basic stuff.
What to order: Begging the eternal question “did you eat yet,” D’jeatjet offers up some substantial answers with bar food favorites like fried mac n cheese balls. Let me say that one more time: FRIED MAC N CHEESE BALLS.
Regular tip: If you’re in the neighborhood on a weekend, stop by for brunch and $10 bottomless mimosas. Just be sure to line your belly with some of their delicious brunchy type fare like chicken and waffles.
What it is: This neighborhood spot is a pretty, but cozy wood-oven Italian joint with an extensive list of wines and whiskey cocktails.
Why we love it: Located off the Q train, this neighborhood spot for some will quickly become a destination for others. Plus, Michelin rated Lea one of its Bib Gourmand restaurants in 2015– meaning, fancy restaurant people think that this is a great place to go to get high quality, cheap eats. Also, it’s named after the owner’s grandmother. How cute is that? Pretty cute.
What to order: Come for a drink, but stay for the menu of Mediterranean-Italian fare. Lea has a full menu, ranging from favorites like cheese ravioli or your standard sauce-n-cheese margherita, to more eclectic choices like grilled squid or cauliflower pizza topped with pine nuts and ricotta. Grab a cocktail like the Sophia, made with mezcal, blood orange liquer, and Brooklyn’s own Sorel hibiscus liquer, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
Regular tip: Pizza, pizza, pizza. Order one. They’re super good. If you’re up for a stroll, you can check out The Castello Plan nearby, a bar run by the same folks who run Lea.
What it is: A rocker joint with loud music, cheap beer and ample seating inside and out back.
Why we love it: The music is loud, the bartenders are friendly and the cheap beer comes in a chalice.
What to order: It’s hard to pass up a $3 Bud in a goblet, so go ahead and get that out of the way. Pickled eggs are a customer favorite and a nice (albeit somewhat strange) alternative to pretzels.
Regular tip: The Endless Summer truck may not be in the backyard any longer, but you don’t have to worry about going hungry at Rocka Rolla. The bar serves up savory pies from Dub Pies, including a pie/mug of beer/chips deal for $9.
What it is: By day Erv’s is a cute little coffee shop where you can get your early morning, or late afternoon pick me up. At night, it transforms into a cocktail bar where you can wash away the hours before your first sip of fruity alcoholic goodness.
Why we love it: Usually we complain about a space where only a handful of people can fit inside. However, the small size (300 sq ft.) of Erv’s is part of its appeal. Plus even though the place is small, the options are not. During the day you can pick up your cup of coffee and grab yourself snack as the shop is always stacked with cookies and small cakes from local bakeries. When you hit the bar in the evening you have your choice of not one, not two, not 10, but 21 different cocktails. With so many options it may be hard to choose, but the bartenders can quickly figure out which cocktail is the right fit for your tastebuds.
Who to bring: Because of it’s intimate spacing, you can bring along that one friend you have been meaning to catch up with, or the friend you need when you don’t want to talk about yourself: a book. The small crowd and non-deafening music means you don’t have to worry about your conversations or thoughts getting drowned out.
What to order: Rambo’s Revenge. That has to be the most badass cocktail name we’ve even seen.
Quick Tip: From Wednesday to Saturday you can pick up $2 tamales from the cart parked right outside the bar.
What it is: Nitehawk Cinema is independent movie theatre meets cozy local bar. It features three small theatres that show anything from new blockbusters to old cult classics. The upstairs theatres feature tableside food and drink service while the bar downstairs has plenty of events that keep it bustling throughout the week.
Why we love it: Beside the great atmosphere, Nitehawk’s bar has plenty of free programming such as Monday night Simpsons Club screenings, Movie Trivia Night, VHS Vault, and Artist Film Club. In addition to the usual specials, Nitehawk serves food and cocktails inspired by films shown at the theatre. In honor of August: Osage County, they served Eat the F*cking Fish (catfish, blackeyed peas, and kale) and hard Sweet Tea, while Dallas Buyers Club inspired Support Group Coffee Doughnuts and spiked Border Crossing Coffee.
Who to bring: The bar is dim and cozy, a great place to bring a date or small group. Movie trivia buffs and general Simpsons fans will particularly love it here.
What to order: Nitehawk has eight draft lines and a wide range of rotating bottle specials, with a focus on local breweries. The first weekend of every month is Country Brunchin’, which features Southern food, live country music, and a film set down south.
Fun fact: Nitehawk managed to get the New York State ban on serving alcohol in movie theatres overturned after its owner hired a lawyer and lobbyist to convince Governor Cuomo to repeal the law.
What it is: Videology is a video store and screening room-turned bar. They have a large library of films, a solid drink selection, and a friendly atmosphere with plenty of regulars.
Why we love it: Are you itching for a Mary Kate and Ashley sing-a-long? Boozy Jazzercise workout? Notebook screening with chocolate and tissues provided? Videology’s way ahead of you. They have an event every single night, including Tuesday trivia nights, and play the staff’s pick of movies in the bar all day. TV-show themed happy hours are each day from 5 to 7. Sunday is TV night so this is a great spot to watch shows on a screen bigger than your laptop’s. This is a great place for anyone who likes motion pictures. The events are a solid opportunity to make some new friends, come ready to mingle.
What to order: There are six beers on tap with a focus on local brews, lagers, and stouts. It’s only appropriate that you pair this with some popcorn. Every day from 5-11, El Gato Nacho is there serving nachos.
Regular tip: All the bartenders went to film school, so if you want to spend hours dissecting Ghostbusters they’re ready.
Full Circle Bar 318 Grand St. (between Havemeyer and Marcy)
What it is: The national home of Brewskee-ball, the first-ever national competitive skeeball league, with an epic canned beer selection and no shortage of good times.
Why we love it: It’s a mix of Brooklyn cool and boardwalk fun. Even if you’re not on a Skee-ball league you can roll your luck on one of the four Skee-ball lanes. the fun vibe at the bar is helped by the decorations made of reclaimed old skeeball machine parts and a staff so dedicated to the game they’ve got Skee-ball tattoos. Tuesdays and Thursdays are some of the best cheap nights out in all the land: not only is Skee-ball free those nights, but you get a hot dog or pretzel with every beer purchase! If you live locally, take advantage of the special “sip codes” nights every month, which is an open bar for people in the Williamsburg zips. Bring boardwalk-loving buddies, competitive friends, lovers of canned beer, pun-masters for creating clever Skee-ball team names (ie: M Skee A, the Beaskee Boys, etc.)
What to order: Try one of the copious amounts of rotating canned beers selection or the all-the-time specials like a $6 Genny and whiskey (aka Whiskee).
Regular tip: The Full Circle gang is responsible for all sorts of summery fun shenanigans, including the annual National Skee-Ball Championship tournament which takes over Knitting Factory, cornhole contests and a summer long deal that lets you hop on a bus and check out a Brooklyn Cyclones game (with some beer included) for a low price. The name of the bar is a reference to a skee-ball term where a player sinks all 9 balls in the 40 point slot.—Tim Donnelly
What it is: An elegant and cozy bistro with live music, an impressive vodka selection, and a balanced mix of Russian and French cuisine.
Why we love it: Where else can you pair crepes with stroganoff and wash it down with different flavors of infused vodka? Bring a date! Dim lighting, a nostalgic Russian band playing, vodka to sip on…
What to order: The pelmeni (unleavened dough dumplings), stroganoff, and anything topped with caviar because, caviar! The infused vodkas (apricot, black currant, lychee) take center stage here, but beer drinkers have plenty of choices as well.
Regular Tip: Check out their events page to keep abreast of special nights and musical happenings.
What it is: An elegant and casual hideaway (think candlelight and frozen pizzas) nestled between the Graham Ave. and Grand St. L train stations.
Why we love it: Matt Torrey’s balances quieting down and turning up among the late 20s to mid-30s set in East Williamsburg and Bushwick. Whether you’re in the mood for a slow-sipped cocktail or a few frothy pints, Matt Torrey’s has your back.
The bar boasts 15 New York State craft beers on tap along with a variety of bottles and cans, food until 3am (meat and cheese plates, pressed sandwiches) and sleek decor that’s good for a meeting, a date or a group outing. Wooden accents lend to the sophisticated atmosphere, with floors made of antique oak reclaimed from a 100-year-old Virginia farm house and floor-to-ceiling windows providing a corner view of the street where no one’s looking in.
What to order: On tap, you’re likely golden with a Sixpoint, Empire or Southern Tier–the draft selection features new brews from around the state, so you’ll want to check the menu for the latest offerings. A worldly bottle selection includes several Hitachino ales hailing from Ibaraki, Japan and Innis & Gunn’s Oak-Aged Ale from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Regular tip: The bar serves free bagels on Saturdays and Sundays, along with $4 bloody Mary’s and mimosas.