For a long time, the stretch of Atlantic Avenue between Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene was a desolate stripe of auto repair shops, storage spaces and empty lots. But recently a number of little gems have blossomed up among the industrial sites, and the latest one, Hot Bird, only makes it more appealing to abandon your regular haunts for this rapidly changing strip.
Hot Bird is owned by Frank Moe, the proprietor of Rope, Fort Greene’s popular art-student filled bar. Though Rope never hooked me in, Hot Bird is a different story. The bar gets its name from the famous chicken place that used to shell out roasted birds and ribs until it closed in the early 1990s, and while the restaurant doesn’t remain, the bright yellow signs that still deck a few building walls off of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues have become iconic ads. One, which towers over the bar’s spacious front yard, only enhances the new bar’s appeal.
The bar opened in late april in one of those aforementioned auto body shops, and boasts an airy indoor seating space with antique machinery for tables, old tool heads used as tap levers and a laidback vibe that makes drinking there relaxing. ask the bartender for a sample of any of the dozen or so brews on tap ($5 to $7 a pint and $18 to $24 a pitcher) before you commit to a drink. Or go right in and grab a glass of the dark-colored yet light-on-the-palate Kostritzer Black, the super hoppy Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye or a delightfully creamy Young’s Chocolate Stout, which tastes just like chocolate milk with the added bonus of getting you drunk.
Once a drink is procured, sip al fresco at one of the giant picnic tables behind the massive fence, which does wonders for blocking out the sound of trucks roaring down atlantic avenue. Also in the back, the bar boasts a new food truck run by Chef Alan Harding (of Smith Street’s Patois) that serves sausages ($4 to $7), burgers ($4 to $6), soft tacos ($5) and some veggie options ($4 to $6) like a vegan hot dog and rice balls with marinara sauce.
There is a full bar, but if you’re looking to get a good cocktail you’re better off heading elsewhere after a few beers. A dirty martini ($10) was bottom of the barrel muck, and a rum and Coke ($7) proved weak. The bar is closer to the beer garden concept, so sticking to the slightly peachy Ayinger Brau-Weiss or the crisp Great Divide Titan IPA and downing it at one of the community tables is the way to go.
The folks at Hot Bird get bonus points for knowing it’s summer and providing coolers full of cold water, but they also lose a star for not having happy hour specials. But in the end that hardly matters, as a beer in hand is better than two in the bush.
>> Hot Bird
825 Atlantic Ave. (at Clinton St.), Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 718-230-5800.