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“People talking about skyscrapers and trains, it’s like coming into a little pond and throwing down a tsunami.”
“We don’t have a lot of bankers here… until they can figure out how to get people to Downtown.”
1. Red Hook Bait & Tackle320 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
2. Hometown Bar-B-Que454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
3. The Good Fork391 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
4. Sunny's Bar253 Conover St, Brooklyn
5. Brooklyn Ice House318 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
6. Brooklyn Crab24 Reed St, Brooklyn
7. Fort Defiance365 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn
Red Hook’s fishing history is remembered in the original signage mounted above this former bait and tackle club, where local fisherman used to socialize and browse for supplies. Socializing still goes on here, but the bait is pints of draft beer in a dim, Adirondack lodge-themed bar brimming with taxidermy and hunting paraphernalia. This dive bar has a sense of humor about itself. Antler chandeliers, bar-mounted quails, and a stuffed bear guarding the sofas make the Buck Hunter standing gaming console feel all the more real.
Pitmaster Billy Durney's Red Hook restaurant is smoking authentic regional barbecue like Texas-style brisket and St. Louis-style ribs. The menu is inspired by Durney's New York childhood spent eating eating at the international food carts along Flatbush Avenue, so options like lamb belly bánh mì and Vietnamese hot wings make the cut as well.
Husband and wife team Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim, the former a carpenter and the latter a chef, combine their creative energies at Red Hook's The Good Fork. Korean and European culinary traditions are wed onto a menu that features dishes like pork and chive dumplings, chicken liver toast, and larger fusion plates like steak and eggs with kimchee rice. Cocktails are far from simple, as evidenced by clam juice Bloody Marys served at brunch and absinthe shaken with grapefruit, lemon, and egg whites in the evening. Schneider's carpentry skills are obvious in how he complements the space's original architectural structure with curved wooden ceilings, vintage light fixtures, and a custom doorway nestled into a brick facade.
A relic of Red Hook's pre-gentrification, working class days lives on in Sunny’s bar, even if beloved proprietor Antonio Balzano, aka Sunny, died in 2016. His family has owned and operated the dark hole-in-the-wall by the river since the late 1890s, when it was one of many bars and restaurants that catered to ship builders who worked nearby. The cash-only dive now draws a mix of neighborhood locals and migrating “authenticity seekers” for cheap beer and cover-free live music.
Some 50 beers are served at this hoppin’ tavern with a dive feel on Van Brunt Street, outfitted with leather banquettes, distressed wood panelling, and chalkboard-walled bathrooms. The space’s previous incarnation as a BBQ restaurant lives on in the signature pulled pork sandwich, which amounts to a simple pile of smoky pork on a hamburger bun. Brooklyn Ice House's food menu features a list of non-BBQ favorites, too: bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed hot dogs and greasy cheeseburgers are served in plastic baskets with a side of fries, standard or sweet potato. Get a beer and bourbon combo and take it out to the backyard where a fire pit complements your warming shot.
Make the trek out to Red Hook for authentic, crab-shack style seafood fare, picnic tables and all. Inspired by the seafood shanties of the Mid Atlantic coast, Alma restauranteurs Jamie Vipond and Matthew Bohner opened Brooklyn Crab to bring summertime vibes to the Big Apple all year round. Situated in a cozy spot overlooking the New York Harbor, Brooklyn Crab's killer views are just a drop in the bucket of reasons worth checking it out: the welcoming atmosphere, rotating seasonal menu options, patio deck, and solid happy hour deals aren't so bad, either.
With a 13-star flag hanging in front, Red Hook's Fort Defiance nods to American history in more ways than one. The menu is rooted in American cookbook classics but sprinkled with European flavors: deviled eggs are topped with fried capers and roasted chicken is served with creamy polenta and braised Tuscan kale. Regular specials like burger nights, oyster happy hours, and the weekly Sunken Harbor Club, a celebration of Tiki food and drink, keep this neighborhood spot lively. That said, you can always count on weekend brunch.