Whether you're just making your first tentative voyage across the river (wait... seriously?), or you literally grew up on a Bedford you no longer recognize, you're gonna need a guide. So, here are the 15 best bars in Williamsburg, because someone had to discern which of the seventy trillion bars with spacious, taco-truck-filled outdoor patios reign supreme.
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Best bowling alley/music venue with really strong beer: Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Ave
Cavernous and field house-like, there's a stage for all sorts of shows, unexpectedly good food (it’s by Blue Ribbon), and an enormous bar with an impressive selection of craft beers (most notably, the 8.4% Brooklyn Blast!). Multitask and watch live shows on the screens above the lanes, or just... y'know... turn around.
Best bar for air hockey and Molsons: Ontario Bar
559 Grand St
Maybe only six actual Canadians hang out here, but whatever. Both you and they can take down Moosehead, Labatt Blue, and Molson -- and ridiculously cheap domestics. The air hockey table works most of the time, but a fickle air hockey table is preferable to no table at all.
Best country bar: Skinny Dennis
152 Metropolitan Ave
It's touted as "New York’s premier honky tonk bar", not least because of the bluegrass/country musicians who frequently come by to play banjo jams -- not to mention, the lack of competition. Try Uncle Willie’s (as in, Willie Nelson) Frozen Coffee; a tasty, creamy $6 bourbon and brandy drink served in a paper coffee cup, and get lucky in Finger Bang Alley. Also: free kolaches on Saturday mornings!
Best bar for picking someone up: Union Pool
484 Union Ave
The bathroom bouncer enforces a one-at-a-time rule, so if you wanna do sex/drugs with another person, you're gonna need one of those realllly tall trench coats. The whole place generally smells like shame, but there’s live music, a fire pit, and a backyard taco truck -- plus a photo booth, which comes in handy the next morning when you're trying to determine who you made out with the night before.
Best whiskey bar: Noorman's Kil
609 Grand St
With over 400 whiskeys and seven different kinds of gourmet grilled cheese, you'll wonder why the two aren't always mutually inclusive.
Best dive bar: Lady Jay's
633 Grand St
It's a friendly standby with a killer jukebox, stiff drinks, and a great backyard that occasionally has live music and BBQs. Expect very few frills, unless you consider mounted antlers and a vintage shuffle bowling machine frills.
Best sports bar: Mulholland’s Bar
312 Grand St
It’s crazy-popular, not least because of the 12 HD plasma TVs, 22 drafts, and lounge-y leather couches in front of a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. Also, the 50ft rich mahogany bar is kind of a big deal. If this was 2004, that line would’ve killed it. Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!
Best beer bar: Barcade
388 Union Ave
Although the countless taps are a huge draw, the serious number of 25 cent arcade games like RoboCop, NBA Jam, TMNT, Ms. Pac-Man, and the always-beloved Tapper are why this place exists. There’s no kitchen, so get food delivered and eat while sitting in chairs seemingly from my high school cafeteria.
Best live music: Baby's All Right
Though it’s kind of depressing/inevitable that all the DIY music venues are closing in Williamsburg, newish Baby’s All Right is a totally acceptable replacement. (And honestly, it’s way nicer than the old spots. Don’t hurt us.)
Best outdoor seating: Crown Vic
60 S 2nd St
Straight up, the back patio is effing enormous and rarely crowded as the place is a little off the beaten-Bedford path. Though with summer bonfires, 24 drafts, and a full kitchen, it’s definitely worth the hike.
Best for day drinking: Radegast
113 N 3rd St
When the day calls for a drink, settle in for the long haul with liters of beer, sausages, and giant pretzels -- plus a deck of house-provided cards -- under the big, bright ceiling windows. It’s one of our New York City editor Andrew Zimmer’s favorite spots in all of New York, and he's been to at least four bars. So, high praise and stuff.
Best dog bar: Lucky Dog
303 Bedford Ave
Go on a nice day and there may be a dozen actual dogs here, so watch where you step in the just-big-enough backyard.
Best bar for dirty, sweaty dancing: The Woods
48 S 4th St
The typically under-25 crowd is diverse and most definitely down to dance to whichever guest DJ is spinning that night. The immense outdoor space has a taco truck, because of course it does. Sometimes there’s a cover, but you can’t put a price on grinding while eating carnitas.
Best for dates: Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Ave
Between the amazing, hanging-garden backyard, oysters until 1am, and an extensive list of premium absinthe, this fancy French-ish place has done half the work for you. Though it’s probably not best practice to not lean too hard on spirits with alleged psychoactive properties while on a date. Or maybe it is!
1. Brooklyn Bowl61 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn
2. Ontario Bar559 Grand, Brooklyn
3. The Levee212 Berry St, Brooklyn
4. Skinny Dennis152 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
5. Union Pool484 Union Ave, Brooklyn
6. Noorman's Kil609 Grand St, New York
7. Lady Jay's633 Grand St, Brooklyn
8. Mulholland's312 Grand St, Brooklyn
9. Barcade388 Union Ave, Brooklyn
10. Baby's All Right146 Broadway, Brooklyn
11. Radegast Biergarten113 N 3rd St, Brooklyn
12. Luckydog303 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
13. The Woods48 S 4th St, Brooklyn
14. Maison Premiere298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bowl's a 16-lane strikers' paradise that combines the sleek amenities of Lucky Strike with the anti-sleek Williamsburgery of The Gutter. Blue Ribbon's famous fried chicken is on the menu and live bands replace the top 40 hits you're used to jamming out to under the disco ball of your hometown lanes.
Don't let the fact that only around six Canadians actually hang out in Ontario fool you: the completely unpretentious dive is more than a name, if only slightly, in that they serve Moosehead, Labatt Blue, and Molsen, and also keep LP and 45 copies of Bob & Doug McKenzie's Great White North up on the wall. In practice, this is probably as Canadian as Canada gets, too.
The Levee's a dive bar that's got you covered, from highly addictive cheeseballs, to cheap beer & shots, to awesome throwback tunes.
On the corner of Metropolitan and Berry, Skinny Dennis is a straight-up honky tonk bar in Williamsburg. The divey spot has 18 draft beers (most of which are domestic), a variety of whiskey, and a very addicting bourbon-and-brandy frozen coffee creation. Old-school country jams play from a jukebox all night long, and there are often live performances from local bluegrass and country musicians.
This spacious Williamsburg spot is almost always packed with a friendly, hip crowd. The name of the game here: tacos and tequila. A taco truck on the back patio serves delicious, cheap tacos, and gives the outdoor space a California vibe. The bartenders are quick and knowledgeable, and take care to create refreshing cocktails.
It's hard enough to do one thing well enough to stand above the crowd in the New York bar & restaurant scene, but Noorman's Kil distinguishes itself for being not only one of the best whiskey bars in NYC, but also one of the best stops for killer grilled cheese sandwiches. From some of the same people who brought you Barcade and Gutter, Noorman's Kil has more than 200 whiskeys, gooey grilled cheese, a wood saloon-style bar, and an awesome outdoor patio space that's perfect for sipping the deep-yet-accessible whiskey menu that NK sources from all over the world. You probably knew that you needed to try a range a whiskeys from the US, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland, but did you know that you also need to try some under-the-radar whiskeys from the likes of India and Sweden? You do now.
No frills, no nonsense - Lady Jay's is a joint that strips a bar down to its bare necessities. LJ's a neighborhood spot dedicated to straight-ahead boozin', decorating its walls with Native American paintings, an American flag, and a pair of mounted steer horns. If you're looking for fancy cocktails, take your business elsewhere, 'cause Lady Jay's is all about seasonal draughts, PBR tallboys, and the highest quality whiskeys.
Boasting a 50-foot bar and 12 big screen TVs, Mulholland's should be your destination if you're in the Brooklyn area and are looking to watch sports or just drink in general. Oh yeah, did I mention they have 22 beers on tap?
This arcade-themed bar (the first outpost of four) offers a vintage lineup ranging from Donkey Kong to Asteroids to be played while sipping craft beers from countless taps. While there's no kitchen, there is a binder full of local restaurant menus, so you can get food delivered if you work up an appetite.
Baby’s All Right is a trendy, low-key haunt offering live music most nights, as well as gourmet bar fare, creative drinks & transforms once the sun comes up in time for weekend brunch. The weekday menu features Bangkok-inspired dishes, and the weekend menu is an American brunch, with an awesome bottomless special. This spot was also featured in Aziz Ansar’s “Master of None,” so you know it’s pretty damn cool.
Radegast is a massive Polish/Slovakian drinking hall in Williamsburg, complete with retractable roof panels, a grill station that kicks out an endless stream of brats, venison sausages, kielbasa & weisswursts, and, of course, a bar where they're pouring massive steins full of brews.
Luckydog is a dog-friendly bar on the south side of Williamsburg. Go on a nice day, and there may be a dozen actual dogs here, so watch where you step in the just-big-enough backyard.
After years of running a rickety taco truck out of its crowded back patio, The Woods in Williamsburg changed the game with a backyard bar that's slinging island-themed cocktails as well as eats from an actual kitchen operated by Landhaus (we suggest the Maple Bacon Stick, which is famous in its own right). Rotating DJs and live music round out the rest of the weekly night scene, and continuously pique the interest of the young Brooklynite scene.
This cosmopolitan city-inspired oyster bar and cocktail den is a classy Williamsburg spot where you can enjoy a stocked raw bar, and lounge outdoors on its greenery-filled patio. We suggest bringing a first date here, as the swank and intimate atmosphere & delicious menu will be sure to wow them.