The Best Restaurant Bars in Brooklyn

We’re fortunate to be living (and drinking) in an age when restaurant bars have come to mean so much more than a place of exile while waiting for a table, and no-reservations Brooklyn has played a pivotal role in this development. From Greenpoint to Red Hook to Williamsbug to Carroll Gardens, and many subway stops in between, the restaurant bar is now a destination unto itself (a good drinker knows that the best way to experience a restaurant is by eating at the bar). So the next time the host comes to fetch you when your table is finally ready, feel free to say, “I think I’ll stay at the bar,” and order another drink. —Brad Thomas Parsons

  • 1

    Fette Sau

    One of the pioneers of New York City's current A-game barbecue scene, Williamsburg's Fette Sau is also home to one of the best American whiskey lists in the city, which always helps soothe the long wait in line and typical scrum to find a seat. But don't overlook the excellent craft beers on tap, whose tap handles have been customized with an arsenal of butcher's knives.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • barbecue
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
    • lots of whiskey
  • 2

    Fort Defiance

    Whether you're looking for a boozy weekend brunch, a night on the town, a beer and a shot after work, or a much-needed prescription for an extended afternoon of day drinking, Red Hook's Fort Defiance has got your back. In his own unique way, owner St. John Frizell has been making everyone feel like a regular since 2009, and after one sip of the house Irish coffee you'll forget all about what a pain it was to trek to Red Hook.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • tiki
    • day drinking
    • brunch
  • 3

    Franny's

    A longtime fixture on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights since 2004 (they moved across the street and down the block in 2013), Franny's continues to pack in the neighborhood stroller set with their much-buzzed-about pizzas and seasonal, locally sourced menu. Ease into the night ahead with a plate of salumi and one of the dozen-plus aperitivi on the rocks options or an amaro-laced cocktail. The list of Italian wine has always been one of the city's most forward-thinking, embracing both the old-school classics and the sorts of lesser-known regional wines that are quietly redefining our notions of what regions ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • pizza
    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
    • amaro
  • 4

    Marlow & Sons

    With its dark farmhouse vibe, closely nestled tables and handwritten menus, Marlow & Sons, which opened in 2004, remains the poster child for the Brooklyn restaurant. Do as the Brooklyners do and spend a classic Marlow & Sons dinner at the bar; start with a dozen oysters and chilled muscadet, and then move on to chicken liver pâté and the signature brick chicken. It's best followed up with the chocolate caramel tart and a digestivo amaro.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • oysters / raw bar
    • good wine
    • brunch
  • 5

    Prime Meats

    You can't talk about Brooklyn without talking about the Franks. In 2010 Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli opened Prime Meats, two doors down from their decade-old Frankies 457 Spuntino. The handsome bar (and killer classic-with-a-modern-twist cocktail program developed by Damon Boelte) helped make it one of Brooklyn's most beloved spots to grab a drink alongside steak tartare, oysters and steak frites. The wine list has also evolved over the years to become the most eclectic and lengthy in the Franks' progeny, with an always-appealing mash-up of whites from both Germany and Austria and a strong selection of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
    • oysters / raw bar
    • brunch
  • 6

    Roberta's

    Walk inside Bushwick's Roberta's and you'll find a patchwork setting of communal tables and picnic benches, strings of hanging lights, a rooftop garden, outdoor seating pockets, a tented tiki bar, a shipping crate that serves as a food-focused radio station, a bustling take-out operation and Blanca, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant within a restaurant. The wine list offers all of the esoterica one might expect from the manic brilliance of Roberta's, from cider to orange wine to sherry to the "AMERICA, YA$$ KWEEN" section. Beer is also a solid order here, especially when paired with a Speckenwolf pie (mozzarella, ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
    • tiki
    • brunch
    • pizza
  • 7

    Rose's Bar & Grill

    From the owners of Franny's and the late Marco's comes Rose's Bar & Grill. This Prospect Heights neighborhood joint feels slightly more bar than grill, but guests can order solid bites (via a chalkboard menu) by the original chef at Franny's—like one epic, no-frills burger—alongside a satisfying selection of on-point cocktails and good wines, all in a cozy space that emanates thoroughly charming vibes.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • wine
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor seating
  • 8

    Vinegar Hill House

    When a winding walk through DUMBO, Brooklyn's old waterfront warehouse neighborhood, deposits you at the door of a rustic, romantic charmer like Vinegar Hill House, you know you're in good hands. Regulars keep coming back for the signature Red Wattle pork chop and the line-up of seasonal cocktails spiked with aromatic ingredients like hopped grapefruit bitters, rosemary-allspice and shiso furikake. On the wine front, Vinegar Hill House's wine director Bill Fitch has been introducing Brooklyn to some of the wine world's undersung heroes for years. With a focus on natural wine from all over the world—with a particular ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • champagne
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
    • full menu
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