The fresh-pressed juice and smoothie cocktails at the recently opened Cocktail Bodega are meals in and of themselves, but its eclectic menu of international street eats is also worth a look. Designed by Roblé Ali of Bravo fame, the short menu is a whimsical melting pot of flavors from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Asia, all served up cafeteria-style in checkered paper and red baskets.
Creativity behind the bar doesn't just extend to fancy cocktails and extensive beer and wine lists. From fancy finger foods to hearty booze-absorbing entrées, here are my most memorable bar eats from this year.
Barraca, a newcomer to the West Village and sister restaurant to taperías Rayuela and Mocando, boasts late-night Spanish tapas and sangria until 3 a.m. daily. Chef Jesús Nuñez, formerly of the modern Spanish restaurant Gastroarte, takes a traditional approach to the cuisine here, offering items popular on most tapas menus such as Patatas Bravioli, Croquetas, Pan con Tomate, and Gambas al Ajillo.
Opened just a few months ago in the heart of Fort Greene, Prospect already feels like it's been around for years, a familiar face in a neighborhood that's rapidly growing in the wake of the Barclay Center opening. The place has all the makings of the modern Brooklyn restaurant—reclaimed wood, local art, artisanal cocktails, plenty of locally sourced ingredients—but any presumption of pretentiousness is quickly wiped away with the warm greetings of a very friendly staff.
One of the hardest hit neighborhoods during Sandy, parts Red Hook have slowly been springing back to life, reopening restaurants and bars in bits and pieces. While places such as the iconic Sunny's Bar are still closed, others are open, albeit with limited services or menus. The beloved dive bar Brooklyn Ice House is one such place
Word got out quickly when Greenpoint favorite No Name Bar started "secretly" serving ramen noodles out of a tiny basement kitchen earlier this year. Now the still-nameless bar has swapped out its ramen menu for a Thai one created by a spunky woman named Nam, who also runs Am Thai Bistro in Flatbush.
With its huge barbecue platters, hefty burgers, and meal-sized appetizers, Waterfront Ale House unabashedly serves up the style of "go big or go home" classic American pub fare not suited for dainty eaters. Still, it's not the size of the plate, but the little touches that make good food great—and this longstanding bar has perfected just that.
One of the first cocktail dens on a stretch of Grand Street now flush with bars and gastropubs opening left and right, Huckleberry Bar has stood the test of time as a neighborhood favorite. Open since 2007, the bar has seen many incarnations of its drink and food menus, but the focus has always remained the same: seasonal libations and simple eats with a classic Americana flair.
While many bar kitchens start closing down after midnight, Macao keeps theirs going with a dedicated late night menu that runs until 3:30 a.m., ensuring Tribeca revelers the chance to fill their bellies with Eurasian-style fare before wandering home at sunrise.
Peruvian cooking, shaped over centuries by Spanish, Japanese and Chinese influences and native Andean roots, has a new haute home in Raymi, a cavernous restaurant and bar featuring modern interpretations of this multicultural cuisine.
With the distinction of being one of Manhattan's few brewpubs, the "gastro" part of 508 Gastrobrewery fittingly serves its brewery half with a menu of beer-friendly plates, including a selection of small plates perfect for bar dining.
The tiny Sake Bar Satsko, arguably the de facto sake-bombing scene of the East Village, serves up a pan-Asian menu with bar bites ranging from the typical spicy tuna rolls to gyoza to edamame. Dig a little deeper and you'll find some unusually great gems, dishes that serve the anecdote to one-too-many sake bombs.
Otherwise your prototypical speakeasy-style bar—weathered wood, marble bar, antique mirrors, suspenders—the warm summer evenings have made Hotel Delmano's coveted front patio one of the prime spots for the best people watching and cocktail imbibing in Williamsburg. The bar menu is simple: seafood from the raw bar, charcuterie, cheese and a few small plates.
Richard Sandoval's flagship, Maya, a longtime staple for upscale Mexican on the Upper East Side, recently rung in its 15th anniversary with an interior redesign and bar/lounge expansion called Tequileria Maya. ueled by their wide selection of tequilas and fresh fruit margaritas, Tequileria Maya is a loud and lively space, a casual atmosphere perfect for happy hour snacking.
For a bar that has no kitchen of its own—Madam Geneva shares one with its sister restaurant Saxon + Parole next door—this gin-focused cocktail den delivers a deliciously creative bar menu true to its vintage Singaporean style.
In an industrial corner of the far edge of Crown Heights, where the drinks are cheap and the food is fast, one wine bar has dared to go the opposite direction. Promising "slow wine, scratch food," Thirstbaravin stands as a French-style wine bar in a neighborhood mostly occupied by repair shops and auto-parts stores.
Prospect Heights bar Cornelius has made a name for itself with its famous $1 oyster happy hour, offered on weekdays until 8 PM and weekends until 6 PM. But given that sustenance can't be had on Blue Point oysters and wine specials alone, Cornelius has a number of other dishes to satisfy post-work cravings.
It's been nearly five years since pastry-trained chef Jehangir Mehta blurred the lines between sweet and savory with the opening of Graffiti, a closet-sized East Village food and wine bar serving up eclectic small-plate fare. The space is still as small as ever, but that hasn't stopped Mehta from serving up dishes with big, bold flavors.
It's springtime at Prospect Heights' popular locavore kitchen, Flatbush Farm, which means a crop of great produce—lettuces, asparagus, spring beans, and beets—is making its way into the lunch and dinner menu. Over on the Bar(N) side of Flatbush Farm, the bar menu is also taking advantage of fresh spring vegetables.
If you find yourself in Midtown in need of a dressed-up bar bite, Oceana—with not one, but two expansive bar areas (a regular and raw bar)—suits the purpose quite well. Though the full menu is available anywhere in the restaurant, Oceana offers a curated selection of finger foods for its bar menu, a more budget-friendly option for those who want to enjoy the trappings of a Michelin-starred restaurant without the typical price tag.
The innovative and sometimes quirky drinks of The Wayland have catapulted the renovated dive bar into the latest cocktail mecca of the East Village. Chef/co-owner Robert Ceraso has come up with a great selection of shareable plates for his partner Jason Mendenhall's libations.
Silver Lining, the Tribeca jazz bar opened by the owners of Little Branch, has all the expected characteristics of a Sasha Petraske-run cocktail den—meticulously crafted libations, swank style, and a gentlemen's code of propriety. The overall food offerings are a bit clumsy, lacking the same panache as their cocktail counterparts. But there is some quality food to be found.
Bar impresario Ravi DeRossi (Death and Company, Mayahuel) comes to Carroll Gardens with Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn, the second outpost of the East Village original. The bordello chic trappings—think gilded ceilings and velvet throne chairs—complement an Old World-style drink menu inspired by spirits from Western Europe.
Pera Soho, the sister restaurant to Burak Karacem's original Pera Mediterranean Brasserie in Midtown, opened recently with some fanfare about its 2000-square-foot garden—a teasing reminder that spring is not quite around the corner. Luckily for us, Pera's well-lit (and well-heated) lounge provides a great setting for winter cocktails and bar bites. The bar menu (also offered as small plates and mezes on the dinner menu) by chef team Ryan Skeen and Sezai Celikbas differs slightly from the original location, though the Eastern Mediterranean flavors remain the same.
The cuisine draws from worldly influences (Spanish, Cuban, Mediterranean), but its soul is Italian—rich, homey and beautiful in its simplicity.
Through the slim celadon doors of Josh Boissy's Maison Premiere, the call of the French Quarter beckons from the Napoleon-adorned absinthe tower standing guard from the bar. Sharply dressed bartenders shake up Sazeracs as the bluesy wail of Son House croons in the background. Find yourself a corner seat, and settle in for a long night of New Orleans wining and dining at this newly opened oyster and cocktail bar.
If any place can make you forget about the frigid winter for a few hours, it's Lani Kai, the "modern tropical" bar recently opened by cocktail impresario Julie Reiner (Clover Club, Flatiron Lounge). Simply order up a Liquid Luau of Gold Coast Punch--aged rum, pineapple, lime, allspice and Champagne--for the group ($65) and embark on a nice long tour of the island-inspired menu by chef Craig Rivard.