Summer Guide 2011: Food & Drink

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts, Summer Guide.

Aurora Williamsburg

Cozy up for an intimate evening in the garden area of this Williamsburg staple that serves delectable Italian food and wines. If it rains, you can still enjoy the view from under the comfort of the glass roof. 70 Grand St. (at Wythe Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-388-5100.

Bar 13

Bypass the DJs and dance party on the bottom two floors and head straight to the roof for the best part of this summer standard. You can chug cold beer in the great outdoors just like God intended. The place is packed with college students who are on break and looking to do some howling at the moon. 35 E. 13th St. (at University Pl.), 212-979-6677.

Berry Park 

This Williamsburg bar boasts killer views of the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan on its rooftop with a laidback pub vibe inside, where the super-high ceilings help alleviate the crowded feeling on weekends (sometimes). The real reason to visit is the gigantic roof, of course, which can make handling a crowd that feels as though it’s from two rivers away a bit less difficult. Also helpful in warding off the grumpies: a nice imported beer selection and a German-inspired menu of grub. 4 Berry St. (at N. 14th St.), Brooklyn, 718-782-2829.

Bier International 

This Harlem spot is currently perfecting a brand-new sidewalk cafe and already has a claim to fame as pretty much the only legit uptown biergarten. It serves about 10 European drafts and also has amazing soft pretzels, so skip the same old gartens and try something new. 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (at W. 113th St.), 212-280-0944.


Park Slope’s favorite craft beer store has added a 40-seat backyard so you can enjoy one of your favorite international brews and a gourmet sandwich—we’ll take a Burton Empire IPA and the Serrano ham joint, don’t forget the bag of chips!—under the always-shining sun of Brooklyn’s most idyllic neighborhood. We like to give the Slope a hard time, sure, but we’ll learn to shut our traps if it means we get to spend the summer buzzed at Bierkraft. 191 5th Ave. (betw. Union St. & Berkeley Pl.), Brooklyn, 718-230-7600.

The Black Rabbit 

Never-ending happy hour on Monday? Excellent brews and saloon-style doors on the booths, plus the best bar snacks this side of the East River? This dive par excellence brings more bliss than a Vipassana meditation retreat, bliss that will hopefully lead you to the sizeable backyard. 91 Greenpoint Ave. (betw. Manhattan Ave. & Franklin St.), Brooklyn, 718-349-1595.

Bohemian Beer Garden

Sure, beer gardens are popping up all over the city like zits on a pre-teen, but Bohemian Beer Garden is still the big kahuna that’s been serving up suds for the past 100 years. Yep, it’s located in Astoria, but it’s totally worth the trek for a dish of history with a side of sausage and beer. 2919 24th Ave. (betw. 29th & 31st Sts.), Queens, 718-274-4925.

Bookmarks at The Library Hotel

Wanna know why they call it Bookmarks? Well, because it’s in The Lib… never mind. You get it. The intimate, must-be-in-theknow setting, combined with ordering drinks with names like the Pulitzer and the Great Gatsby, will make you feel cosmopolitan indeed. And if not, you can grab a nearby thesaurus to figure out precisely how you do feel. 299 Madison Ave. (at E. 41st St.), 212-983-4500.

Central Park Boathouse

Now that Tavern has been forcefully resurrected as a giant dispenser of pamphlets, you only have one restaurant in the park that requires your attendance if you’re going to mingle with the elite and use "lunch" as a verb. This is it. You might be paying $4 per shrimp at the outdoor grill, but it’s worth it for the view and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel just by being there. Central Park, enter park at East 72nd Street & Park Drive North, 212-517-2233.

Cha Cha’s 

This is the place to get your Coney Island dive bar fix. They sometimes have bands, but the true appeal is drinking beer outside on the boardwalk. Nothing says summer like tossing back a Corona and playing "who can spot the most inappropriate shorts." 1229 Boardwalk (betw. Stillwell Ave. & W. 12th St.), Brooklyn, 718-946-1305.

The Creek & The Cave

If you love stand-up comedy with your beefand-bean burritos, this Long Island City restaurant and venue is for you. Upstairs, they serve decent Tex Mex food. Downstairs, they’ve got a running line-up of fresh comedians and improv acts. Plus, they’ve got great specials—burger and beer Wednesdays for $10—and a dog-friendly patio that makes the eternal case for LIC being up-and-coming. 10-93 Jackson Ave. (at 49th St.), Queens, 718-706-8783.

The Delancey

The booze and dancing here are decent, but the rooftop lounge is the reason to go. It’s got plenty of seating and a nice, plant-enhanced atmosphere. Plus, there’s no music on the roof, so you can actually have a chat with the person you’ve just been grinding on the dance floor. 168 Delancey St. (betw. Clinton & Attorney Sts.), 212-254-9920.


Skip the artificially flavored icy sugar bombs being peddled at Rockaway Beach; DiCosmo’s Italian Ice has had it going on for almost a century. The family business features kickass flavors that taste like the grapes, lemon, mango and oranges that they make them with. And it’s cheap. And you can get a pint to take back to your lazy friends on the beach so they will love you forever. 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. (at Beach 96th St.), no phone.

Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden 

This neighborhood outpost with an enormous patio is a congregating place for locals, lesbians, writers and other artsy types. On the weekends, DJs get the floor shaking and you can fill the pit in your stomach with Dutch Boy Burgers, the in-house burger joint. 618 St. John’s Pl. (betw. Franklin & Classon Aves.), Brooklyn, 718-975-0196.

The Gate

A revolving
cavalcade of drafts on tap (20 plus, with a gluten-free option) and the
dogfriendly environment are the perfect antidotes to the strollered
throngs that mob the streets of Park Slope. Within easy reach of the
park across the street, if you feel like a midafternoon siesta. 321 5th
Ave. (at 3rd St.), Brooklyn, 718-768-4329.

Beach Café 

This neighborhood enclave is actually inside Riverside Park,
making it a prime summer spot for river views and watching people
engage in physical activities while you sip wine. The food can be
described as what would happen if a mainstream pub (the place is one of
the P.D. O’Hurley’s restaurants) had a baby with a backyard barbecue.
Riverside Park, enter park at West 103rd Street & Riverside Drive,

and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden 

When you’ve had just about all the oil
paintings and crowds you can take at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
shoot up to the roof and you’ll find yourself at a surprisingly chill
rooftop bar. They serve margaritas, mojitos, mixed drinks and ice cream
to complement the killer view. 1000 5th Ave. (at E. 82nd St.),

John Dory

If oysters say "sex," than April Bloomfield’s new seafood
joint screams it, right on the street through two walls of windows and a
handful of outdoor seats. Being part of the Ace Hotel aids the reality
of this sentiment and, as the skirts get shorter and the dudes start
going around in muscle shirts, this haute location flexes its own
mussels and becomes a perfect excuse for people watching. 1196 Broadway
(at W. 29th St), 212-792-9000.


This Western-themed saloon on the busy, boozy Grand Street
corridor has one major bonus that makes it stand out above the other
nearby drinking spots, and we’re not talking about sort-of celebrity
owner Sam Mason—it’s the backyard, stupid. A spacious deck can
accommodate dozens of fresh-air enthusiasts, and a wraparound bench and
accompanying tables make enjoying your shot-and-shorty alfresco an
exceedingly pleasant activity. 633 Grand St. (betw. Leonard St. &
Manhattan Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-387-1029.


 The back garden of this Brazilian gem is like the grown-up version of
your childhood forest palace fantasies transplanted to Williamsburg.
Secured in a corner nook and adorned with tiny lights and plants
everywhere, the patio also has a freestanding fireplace and lots of
benches for getting cozy. There’s a limited food menu of tasty snacks,
but you must try a Pickleback shot, and don’t ask questions. Be sure to
keep it down, though, because the management won’t think twice about
booting you and locking up the back if things get nasty. 279 Grand St.
(betw. Roebling & Havemeyer Sts.), 718-302-9023.


We know some of you naughty people sneak a flask into the park, but for
those law-minded folk needing a mid-day drink after lounging in the
sweet grass of Fort Greene Park, Mauzac is the perfect spot. You can
spend your day between nature and sampling cool Rieslings and
Chardonnays or its bubbly namesake, a Mauzac Blanc. 136 DeKalb Ave. (at
S. Elliot Pl.), 718-694-2044.


Not only is Mission Dolores our favorite way to kill time
between bands at the neighboring Rock Shop, but it’s also a great bar on
its own. In addition to the charm of the indoorsoutdoors space, there
are 20 draft choices (posted online daily!) to keep you buzzed, and
there’s seemingly always a birthday party going on, so making new
friends is a piece of cake—and so is scoring a piece of cake. 249 4th
Ave. (betw. President & Carroll Sts.), Brooklyn, 718-399-0099.

Mulberry Project 

With walls decorated by graffiti royalty, a twolevel,
900-square-foot deck and drinks like the Champagne Piña Colada and the
minty, chocolaty Dutch Hopper, both of which come with hand-churned ice,
summer in Soho won’t get cooler than it is at The Mulberry Project. A
full menu, heavy on light, local fare, is also available should you ever
desire something that’s not on your liquid diet. 149 Mulberry St.
(betw. Grand & Hester Sts.), 646-448-4536.


A sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon for a backyard brunch is why
most people call this their favorite Williamsburg weekend activity. But
come back for Wednesday’s Craft Can & Grilled Cheese Night or
Mexabilly Monday (that would be $4 margaritas and Tex-Mex menu specials)
and you’ll be a weekday regular as well. 146 Wythe Ave (betw. 9th &
8th Sts.), Brooklyn, 718-388-5328.


Don’t be fooled by the heavy wood and lodgelike atmosphere
inside this Eastern European beer bar: It has a killer backyard with
individual tables sectioned off by trees, which is perfect for a
romantic, suds-friendly date. Enjoy any of their 14 tap beers or
anything from the extensive bottle menu, as well as bites like organic
green salads, spinach artichoke dip and fish and chips. 221 N. 4th St.
(at Metropolitan Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-302-1500.


We’ve logged plenty of late nights and early mornings at Papacitos,
heartthrob chef Cody Utzman’s Greenpoint Mexican spot, mostly because of
the restaurant’s namesake drink—a grapefruit-jalapeno margarita—and the
awesome backyard. Happy hour occurs here three times daily and while
we’ve never managed to be at Papacitos for all of them, we can attest to
how easy it is to stay for just another round, whether it’s of drinks,
tacos or, our favorite, both. 999 Manhattan Ave. (at Huron St.),
Brooklyn, 718-349-7292.

Pier i Café 

Open May through October, Pier i Café offers scenic Hudson
River views and alfresco dining in addition to burgers, freshly squeezed
blueberry lemonade and fresh fruit sangria. For a full day, time your
visit with any number of summer events happening in Riverside Park
South. Riverside Park, enter at West 70th Street, 212-362-4450.


Tradition trumps trends at Reif’s Tavern. Drink beer, play pool,
throw darts or, if you call ahead, you can BYOM—Bring Your Own Meat—for
the outdoor grill on the backyard patio. The tight-knit regulars
welcome a new face, but it might be wise to keep your Red Sox shout-outs
to yourself at this sports bar. 302 E. 92nd St. (betw. 1st & 2nd
Aves.), 212-426-0519.

Rockaway Taco 

If this tiny taco shack was around when the Ramones wrote "Rockaway Beach," it might have warranted a
line. This year they are quadrupling their clientele with three
beachside stands at 86th, 96th and 106th streets, as well as being
joined by other food vendors peddling goods from Babycakes, The Meat
Hook, Blue Bottle Coffee and others. 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. (at
Beach 96), Queens, 347-213-7466.

Standard Beer Garden 

There are a few ways to make the Meatpacking
District bearable, and the most effective of those is by drinking. Do it
here, under the old train tracks, with a cool German brew in your hand.
848 Washington St. (at W. 13th St.), 212-645-4646.

The Garden at Studio Square

the other beer garden in Queens. The Garden at Studio Square—formerly
just Studio Square—serves a wide variety of beer by the half-liter,
liter and pitcher to help down your order of panko-crusted chicken
schnitzel fingers, German sausages, burgers and ribs. The outdoor space
is massive and seating is picnic-table style, so finding room isn’t
generally a problem, but on summer’s nicest days, prepare to get chummy
with the other patrons. 35-33 36th St. (betw. 35th & 36th Aves.),
Queens, 718-383-1001.

Union Pool 

If you hang out in Williamsburg at all, you know Union Pool. If you almost never hit the nabe, you probably still know it. More or less the standard bearer of ‘burg bars, the always raucous and crowded Union Pool has a large backyard, tasty taco truck, live music, a photo booth and cheap-ish drinks. For locals, a drink at Union Pool is generally considered a necessary and not altogether unenjoyable evil. 484 Union Ave. (at Meeker Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-609-0484.

Washington Commons 

We love this bar on the edge of Prospect Heights because it has a sweet $2-off-beer happy hour (and the selection is awesome). And not only does the backyard seat dozens of people, but the WiFi is stupendous should you need to work or stream YouTube videos for boozy friends. If you want grown-up drinking, this is the spot.748 Washington Ave. (at Park Pl.), Brooklyn, 917-407-3144.

The Woods 

Quite possibly the pickle-back capital of New York, The Woods is one of those charming-ona-weeknight-but-wild-on-the-weekend spots that the south side of Williamsburg does so well. A sweet patio separates the large bar from a smaller structure in back where you can down burgers and tacos—please skip the nasty nachos—and enjoy slightly less noise. Nights where live music is happening are especially pleasant here, though we can honestly say no matter what the evening, we’ve never had a bad time. 48 S. 4th St. (betw. Wythe & Kent Aves.), Brooklyn, 718- 782-4955.

The New Cool

old iced coffee is passé. These five takes on coffee and cubes promise
to chill us out without any of the same old, well, grind(s).

In A Growler

Once you taste
cold-brewed iced coffee, there’s no going back to those leftover
percolated pour-overs. Now, Birch Coffee (5 E. 27th St., 212-686- 1444)
and Nolita Espresso Mart (156 Mott St., 212-966-8883) are both selling
64-oz. growlers of their house cold-brews. For $3.99, you can buy the
glass growler, and each refill is $13.99 at Nolita and $15 at Birch. At
Birch, they’re filling the jugs with their Coffee Lab Roasters cold-brew
blend, the shop’s bestseller. Co-owner Paul Schlader says he likes the
"moonshineish effect." At Nolita, introducing the growler of Stumptown
cold-brew was a no-brainer, as they already sell growlers of microbrews.

Classic Coffee Soda

You know that feeling
when you can’t decide between iced coffee and Diet Coke to quench your
thirst and satisfy your fried nerves? Well, there’s really no need to
choose. Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda— made in Brooklyn since
1895—has all the punch of coffee but all of the invigorating bubble
action of a soda. It’s on tap at Ferdinando’s (115 Union St., Brooklyn,
718-855-1545) in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, and available
by the bottle almost anywhere.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Most people would rather
toss their drink unfinished than power through those last few sips of
watered down, diluted iced coffee. What if that never happened, and
instead your cold drink melted uniformly to the last drop? That’s the
appeal of coffee ice cubes. Boerum Hill’s One Girl Cookies (68 Dean St.,
Brooklyn, 212-675-4996) freezes Stumptown decaf to toss in your mug,
while Il Laboratorio del Gelato (188 Ludlow St., 212-343-9922) serves
cubes made from Café Grumpy coffee and its new Upper Lower East Side
location, on East Houston Street.

Modern Coffee Soda

Wish there were a
sparkling coffee that didn’t have the shelf life of a Manhattan Special?
Head to Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Label (180 Franklin St., Brooklyn,
718-389-2806) and order the Franklin Soda, made with Stumptown espresso,
housecarbonated seltzer and simple syrup.

Owner Lynde McCormick
explains the inspiration behind the drink: "We were turned off by
Frappucinos and other drinks like that and wanted to make a cold,
espresso-based drink that doesn’t disguise the flavor of the espresso

Over Ice Cream

Need something a little
more decadent than a cup of coffee with a Splenda and skim? At both Van
stores (632 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-701-1630, and 81
Bergen St., Brooklyn, 347-763-2979)— and sometimes at one of the luxury
ice-cream-maker’s roving trucks— you can order an affogato, which means
your Intelligentsia espresso comes splashed over ice cream. We recommend
you go with the hazelnut.