Brooklyn's Best Bar Food

No matter how hard you try, you can't live on liquor, beer and wine alone. It's a sad truth, sure, but there's a silver lining to your need for nutrition. Lately, bars in Brooklyn have begun upping their food game. Gone are sad sacks of cut-rate Utz potato chips, replaced by elite grub to insulate your stomach from another Bud or slug of brown liquor. From crunchy chicken thighs to a meaty French dip, here are the best Brooklyn bars to wet your whistle and stuff your stomach. (Photo: Walter Foods)

Updated: September 08, 2010

Top Bar Eats in Brooklyn

Tandem Bar

236 Troutman St, Brooklyn, NY 11237

Decked out with salvaged decor, Tandem is an eclectic, welcoming haunt for local artists and the post-college crowd that calls Bushwick home. But while Tandem's dance parties are a lure, as are drinks like the potent Dark and Stormy, the food deserves equal billing. Grass-fed meatballs are served alongside pumpkin-squash lasagna, while the mac ?n? cheese is fashioned with homemade pasta and gobs of rich, gooey fromage.

Walter Foods

253 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Unlike Williamsburg's numerous PBR-and-peanuts dive bars, Walter is a retro-flavored throwback to an earlier, glamorous era when people didn't wear ripped jeans. In the tiled dining room, bespoke barkeeps fashion fittingly old-school cocktails (mint juleps, Sidecars, Manhattans), while waiters serve raw-bar clams and bivalves, lovely lobster rolls and French-dip sandwiches slicked with horseradish sauce. On nice eves, enjoy your eats in the lush backyard.

Fort Defiance

365 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Work up an appetite by walking to this Fort in the far reaches of Red Hook, where the weapons of choice are old-timey cocktails, house-made seltzer and syrups, and peerless eats. Come lunch, snack on a sandwich stuffed with buttermilk fried chicken, or perhaps a muffaletta (soppresata, coppa, and mortadella finished with two cheeses and olive salad). For dinner? Rib-stickers like chicken and dumplings and a rotating cast of seasonal sustenance, such as summer-squash gratin.


366 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Former Pies-N-Thighs fry guy Stephen Tanner has resurfaced at Williamsburg's Commodore, a dark and grungy hangout that once contained the long-running Black Betty. To pair with cheap canned beer and kitschy boat drinks such as the bar's namesake (pi?a colada with an amaretto float), Tanner has devised a menu of good-and-greasy delights counting chicken thighs fried to a crackle, sloppy burgers, towering tangles of fries and a pulled-pork sandwich. Remember: No waiters mean you must order at the bar.

The Vanderbilt

570 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

After a decade running Smith Street's Saul, toque Saul Bolton has brought his culinary daring to burgeoning Vanderbilt Avenue. In a long, looker of a room that once housed a hardware store, you can slake your boozy thirst with local microbrews (Sixpoint, Captain Lawrence) and meticulously prepared cocktails. Drink in hand, dive into Bolton's flavorful small plates such as blistered shishito peppers, house-smoked bratwurst, homemade jerky (!), crisp veal sweetbreads and mussels bathed in coconut, chili and basil.