A Brooklyn Barkeep’s Illustrated Guide to New York Watering Holes

John Tebeau lives the kind of life you thought was extinct in New York City. He spends three days a week behind the bar at Red Hook’s Fort Defiance, tending to a cast of regulars and visitors, many of whom have wandered in after a trip to IKEA, in dire need of booze. When he’s not at Fort Defiance, Tebeau’s in his Brooklyn Heights studio working as a freelance illustrator. He combines his two areas of expertise in his new book, Bars, Taverns, and Dives New Yorkers Love: Where to Go, What to Drink, which features his hand-drawn renderings of fifty bars from around the five boroughs, along with recipes and short essays on all things hospitality: whether to sit at the bar or a table, advice on engaging with your fellow drinkers, and quotes overheard at his regular Atlantic Avenue tavern, ChipShop.

The importance of a good bar was established in his life early on, as a kid in North Muskegon, Michigan. “It was normal for my parents to go out to taverns and stuff, to see their friends and have a few beers, so it was always normal for them to bring the kids, because it was the Seventies and Eighties,” he tells me over drinks at Brooklyn Inn, one of the bars featured in the book. “Kids would play pool and Pac-Man and shuffleboard, and the parents would hang out and bullshit, and everyone would eat together.”

[related_posts post_id_1=”586103″ /]

When asked about the distinctions between the categories he names in his book’s title — bars, taverns, dives — he explains that bars are drinks-forward, a tavern serves food, and a dive is, well, a dive. You know one when you see one, yet Tebeau believes they can be further sorted into two categories: “There’s one type that’s a disreputable bar that has unsavory clientele, something like that,” he says, “but the other kind of dive is an unassuming local bar that serves reasonably priced drinks to locals.” The best in Brooklyn, according to him, is Red Hook’s Brooklyn Ice House. “It’s got a surprisingly good kitchen,” he notes, while declining to out any of the “bad dives” by name. 

Tebeau, who moved to Brooklyn after spending time in San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and Manhattan, had gotten some attention for his drawings of Brooklyn bars after showing them at Fort Defiance and Long Island Bar. The publisher, though, wanted to cover the entire city, which led him to spots in Staten Island, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx that he chose through a method of polling friends and scouring the internet. But Brooklyn is the most broadly and deeply represented, with twenty-one bars. The Bronx and Queens each get four, Staten Island six, and Manhattan fifteen.

“Population-wise, it’s huge,” he says. “Queens and Brooklyn are the most populous, so there’s just going to be more people and more bars because of it. There’s definitely a good locals bar feel here. And also because I live here. What gives me the right to decide that most of the favorite bars are in Brooklyn? Nothing. It’s kind of a personal book that way.” 

Each bar gets a section dedicated to Tebeau’s notes concerning what to drink and eat, how to get there, and even where to sit. One essay offers helpful tips for maintaining “ballast,” noting that “alcohol is a toxin, my friends, and can extract a steep price: the wrath of the booze gods, brought down upon you brutally, like Thor’s mighty hammer itself. This book is about the joy of social tippling, not getting spring-break wasted, so be smart and keep it fun.” Starch, fat, and salt are highly recommended, as is a post-drinking slice. 

Long Island Bar

Tebeau is careful, in the book and in person, not to use the word “best” about his selection; these are simply his favorites, and the method was unscientific. And because of the nature of New York real estate, there were apparently fifty-three chosen spots: While working on the book, Tebeau had three bars in his back pocket to replace those that made the initial cut but might close while it was still in production.

“The whole time I was writing the book, I was expecting some place to close before I finished it. That didn’t happen — out of fifty bars, in five boroughs, none closed while I was working on the book,” he says. “Then it went to the printers, and one closed [Red Lantern Bicycles]. In ten years, some people will look at the book and more places will probably be closed. It’s a moment in time.” McSorley’s Old Ale House, opened in 1854, has been around the longest. 

This is a common refrain in the world of watering holes: When Amanda Schuster, editor-in-chief of the website The Alcohol Professor, was writing last year’s New York Cocktails, the potential for closures was constantly on her mind, and three have shut down since her book hit the market last September. “Mayahuel was the first to close, announced just before the book was released,” she says. “Then we lost my beloved August Laura in Carroll Gardens around Thanksgiving. Though not officially a cocktail bar, Sunken Hundred is closing in a couple of weeks.”

Many factors are at fault, according to Schuster. While no one expected Mayahuel, an iconic agave spirits bar, to shutter, the others were a bit too offbeat to survive the current New York City economy.

[related_posts post_id_1=”580149″ /]

“August Laura and Sunken Hundred are both tragic circumstances of trying to keep a business afloat in an economy that doesn’t favor creativity in less-traveled sections of a mostly residential neighborhood with tons of competing businesses,” she says. “The people who truly appreciate those kinds of venues — a quirky neighborhood bar focused on esoteric Italian ingredients and an upscale, authentic coastal Welsh restaurant with a seaweed martini — aren’t the same people who can afford to visit them regularly. People with deeper pockets favor their more famous neighbors. Even if you fill every seat a night in a great cocktail bar in south Brooklyn, it’s tough to get ahead unless the seats constantly turn over. Not filling them is death.”

And so we can expect that Tebeau’s book might soon be more time capsule than guidebook. It could be saved, though, by its catholic approach to the city’s bars, giving equal space to brewery tasting rooms and neighborhood places in New Brighton rather than focusing on the hyped cocktail go-tos. His approachable writing can remind even the most hardened regulars why they find themselves darkening the same door night after night, and the bright, bold illustration style brings a soft, awestruck eye to common sights. It gives you access to a friendly bartender without leaving the house — but might also get you to hop the ferry to Staten Island and talk to whoever’s on the next stool. You’ll want this book, like your chosen local pub, to stick around.


This Week in Food: Winter Burger Pop-Up, Thanksgiving Meals, Holiday Pop-Up Bars

Pig Beach Burger Pop-Up
Pig Beach (460 Union Street, Brooklyn)
Monday through Sunday

Pig Beach’s burger-focused pop-up, Pig Beach Burger, is now open for the winter season. The menu boasts burgers and smoked meat sandwiches (like pastrami on rye and pulled pork). There’s also a meatball hero and a barbecued pork chimichanga. The indoor pop-up will also feature a full bar with specialty cocktails.

Joe Germanotta Cookbook Signing
Barnes & Noble (2289 Broadway)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Restaurateur Joe Germanotta will be signing copies of his first cookbook — Joanne Trattoria Cookbook —  at Barnes & Noble. The book focuses on classic Italian-American recipes (along with quirkier fare, like Nutella lasagna) and also includes family photos. Does the Germanotta name sound familiar? Hint: He’s Lady Gaga’s father. Guests can register in advance for a guaranteed seat here.

Thanksgiving Day Dinners and Deals

Multiple Locations

Many New York City restaurants are offering Thanksgiving day meals for those looking to dine out this year. From 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saxon + Parole is offering a Thanksgiving feast for $95 per person ($45 for children) which includes options like grilled branzino or New York strip steak along with sides served family-style. For those looking for a three-course Thanskgiving Day deal, both locations of Tikka Indian Grill (in Kew Gardens and Williamsburg) are serving an Indian-inspired Thanksgiving meal for $16.95. Finally for dessert, Morgenstern’s has collaborated with Mario Batali for a selection of pies, which will be available for in-store purchase on Tuesday and Wednesday. Pie flavors include Mississippi mud pie and butterscotch pie with sweet dough.

Miracle on Ninth Street/Sippin Santa’s Surf Shack Holiday Pop-Up Bars
Mace (649 East 9th Street)/Boilermaker (13 First Avenue)
Friday through December 24

Holiday-themed pop-up bars Miracle on Ninth Street and Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack are coming back to New York this weekend for a month-long residency. Miracle on Ninth’s cocktail menu returns this year with Christmas-inspired spins on the Cosmopolitan and other classic offerings. Meanwhile, fans of tiki drinks can find a variety of spicy concoctions at Sippin’ Santa’s. Seating at both bars are available on a first come, first served basis.


At Kingsley, Whole Animals, Late-Night Eats, and Friendly Service Reign Supreme

As a young cook working her way up the ranks, chef Roxanne Spruance collected photos of bathroom tiles, color schemes, and lighting fixtures. She imagined a dining room that was clean, neutral, and inviting. “Some girls plan their wedding. I planned this restaurant,” Spruance tells the Voice. That restaurant? Kingsley.

Tucked away on Avenue B in the East Village, Kingsley is indeed an inviting restaurant. There are two small dining rooms seating around 25, a bar with a separate menu and serious signature cocktails, a private dining room, and a patio. The dining and bar menus are both whole animal- and market-driven, with seasonal changes. And the service is warm, but professionally on point.

“Everything has kind of formed itself from this initial vision of allowing guests to get amazing food and great service without having to get dressed up and go uptown,” Spruance explains. “There are so many mid-range to cheap eats in this city, but you go in and the servers kind of make you feel like you’re doing them a favor by being there. I hate that feeling.”

In a time when “market-driven” and “whole animal” can be viewed as more “on trend” than substantial, you only need to look at Spruance’s formal education to trust that she can put her plates where her ideals are. She received Bachelor of Science degrees in both Environmental Biology/Zoology and in Fisheries and Wildlife, and she worked at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in Chicago, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns and WD-50 in New York.

At Kingsley, her education and experience come together in ingredient-driven dishes that equate to more than throwing “a poached egg in a bowl with some vegetables and calling it a day.”

“Where’s the crunch, where’s the acid? We look at all elements together,” she assures.

Roasted Octopus
Roasted Octopus

Her Celeriac Agnolotti, for example, is a pasta-less dish where roasted celery root is put through a deli slicer, then stuffed with sunflower puree and served over a dehydrated mesquite cake with seared foie gras, black pepper gastrique, and sunflower shoots. “It’s sweet, bright, fresh, and crunchy,” she explains.

While favorites like the charred octopus will probably never fully leave the menu, its composition changes with what’s available that season, and is currently served with eucalyptus, yogurt, plums, cucumber, sumac, rice wine, and shiso.

Cocktails flow with the seasons, too. In late summer, the Herbs de Provence Manhattan transformed into a Manhattan with pecan-washed bourbon and peach simple syrup. Such potent libations require snacks that can seriously absorb alcohol.

“The East Village is a great cocktail neighborhood where people are out late, but most places don’t really do good late food,” she says. “So to offer some snacks to people later in the evening that are still curated — and not just pizza — is important to us.” This is where the benefit of using whole animals comes in: Fresh lamb meat goes into tartare, pig skins into chicharones, and soon a few varieties of French paté will be available.

Breaking down whole animals is a technique that many chefs aspire to master, but it’s a process that is often difficult to make a reality — especially in a city where kitchens can be the size of closets and walk-in refrigerators aren’t big enough for people to walk into. But for Spruance, “the animals were non-negotiable, just like the farmer’s market is non-negotiable. We were going to make it work.”

Part of the necessity is purely pragmatic: When a whole animal comes in at three dollars a pound versus a rack or chop at thirty dollars, the difference between the two is gigantic.

“It’s a ton more labor…but it’s free, because it’s me!” she admits. “It’s about what you can get out of it, and where you can get the most value,” she summarizes. “For me, that’s doing whole animals. Say I had a super-tiny fridge: I’d bring something in and butcher it that day so that it fits in that fridge. There are no limitations — you just have to be a bit more creative about it.”

The dining room at Kingsley
The dining room at Kingsley

Creativity plays a part in her plating style, too, though she doesn’t plate with Instagram-obsessed diners in mind. “It’s a combination of what the dish is, how it speaks to me, and what plate it’s going on,” she explains. She’s a fan of negative space and round plates, often utilizing their curves. “It’s an organic process. It shouldn’t make your eye work. I think that’s part of how people identify with your dishes — they’re not having to figure out what the thing is.”

Spruance has always taken ownership in the restaurants that employed her and tries to instill the same in her staff. However, when she gives herself a moment to bathe in those bathroom tiles, the poured concrete bar, the color palette, and the ethos of her staff — she feels pride in a way she never has before. “Honestly, I try not to think about it all the time, but there is something to be said about sitting down at the end of the night in a space that is my name. It’s awesome.”


Fly Your Freak Flag at Ethyl’s Alcohol and Food With Chef Paul Gerard

Chef Paul Gerard is of that unique breed of born-and-bred New York City chefs who can legitimately own gritty memories of Times Square in the Seventies, the drugged-out music scene of the East Village in the Eighties, and the hardass Brooklyn kitchens at work before Brooklyn was considered cool on an international scale. And he wants you to snag a bit of that old New York in his new Upper East Side joint, Ethyl’s Alcohol & Food (1629 Second Avenue; 212-300-4132).

Gerard was a busboy in Brooklyn at the ripe age of twelve. By thirteen, he was a dishwasher, thrown into the back of house because he refused to cut his lengthening hair. “They had a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility to them, but they were into it,” he tells the Voice of his first kitchen experience. “They’d be sitting with red devils, smoking some weed, with other ‘dry goods’ in front of them, reading cookbooks, and I thought it was great.”

There, he learned classic Italian-American cuisine and how to survive a kitchen: “When I was coming up, you came to work with ‘I hope I don’t get fired.’ You’d work your ass off, harder and harder. If the chef didn’t speak to you, that was a good day.” He stayed in the city until he was 21 then cooked largely in New Orleans through the Nineties before returning home to stints at Sweetwater, China Grill Management, the Soho Grand Hotel, and Soho House. He then opened his first venture as a partner, Exchange Alley, and followed up as the chef consultant to Belle Reve.

Crispy calamari at Ethyl's
Crispy calamari at Ethyl’s

Ethyl’s is all about the 1970s. Glossy red-and-black walls are filled with framed photos of “poets, punks, movie stars, artists, rock stars, and foxy ladies.” The back corner houses a stage where DJs like Ronnie Magri, Linda Rizzo, and Cochon de Lait spin funk, soul, and disco as a ball shimmers overhead. Depending on the hour, you might walk through a door framed with floating bubbles and find go-go dancers like Velvetina Taylor or Delysia La Chatte shimmying away. There’s live music, comedy, and fun late on every weekend night.

“I wanted to go back further to my core of my nostalgia, to the things that dazzled me as a kid,” says Gerard, who came up with the majority of the “concept” for the space. “My mother would take me to a Broadway play, and I can remember her wrapping her fingers around my eyes in Times Square…me peeking through them, looking for the little circle with an X on it, at the giant billboards, the way Times Square used to be. Charlie’s Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, the Fonz, the soundtrack from Chico and the Man, Paul Simon, disco…all of those things are the world I grew up in.”

The menu doesn’t represent a particular time or place, though; it’s bar food. Gerard pulled in chef Joel Luna, who worked with him at the Grand Hotel and Soho House, along with other cooks who’ve migrated with him from place to place and so know Gerard’s technique and style. In their hands, plates of calamari, shrimp cocktails, and chicken wings are made with a far better pedigree than a bar food menu usually implies.

“We’re making simpler food, but it doesn’t mean we approach it any differently,” Gerard promises. “The same technique to reduce a demi is going into the Valentina hot sauce for the chicken wings. There’s no half-step because it’s chips and guac: It’s still fresh herbs, perfectly pickled chiles, and limes cut a certain way with no seeds in them. The standard hasn’t changed because the format or menu has.”

It’s pretty clear on the written menu. The wheat- and gluten-free crispy calamari come salty, peppery, and bright with lemon, accompanied by chimichurri aioli. Ethyl’s play on potato chips is a mound of beet and sweet-potato chips with herb yogurt. The open-face french fry hero has serious heft. And the Fi-Dolla Burger is as compact and juicy a burger as ever there’s been.

“I know what people want to eat,” Gerard says. “So I approach it from a modest way that, ‘Yeah, it’s a bar menu…’ But bar food doesn’t negate my thirty-plus years in the kitchen and my own standards.”

French Fry Hero at Ethyl's
French Fry Hero at Ethyl’s

There are certain things from his past that he knows wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) fly today. “The kitchens of New York welcomed me with open track-marked arms. I loved that aspect of it,” he reminisces. “The guys I grew up with partied like actual rock stars. But…those guys are either dead or in AA.”

Yet Gerard still misses that darker city. “New York was dirty, gritty, violent, sexy, and sexual. But it was also more of a neighborhood. Everyone knew each other.… New York used to be the place where you could fly your freak flag; people coming to New York were adding to it. It was more liberal. New York doesn’t have as much character now. I wanted Ethyl’s to take us back to that time.”

Ethyl’s already feels like it’s been around awhile: In the one month it’s been open, the bar already looks a bit worse for wear, and the space appears to have seen a few rough nights — in a good way. It’s clean, but not overtly sanitary. And then there’s the team: No matter how much leather or costume they’re wearing (or not), they all appear like they’re in on the fun — and they get your order right. When they ask if you’re digging the party, they seem to legitimately hope so.

“The people I have here are my crew, my family, the neighborhood,” he says. “People say this ‘feels like a downtown place uptown.’ But I say we’re nice! We’re not too cool for school.… The cool people I know are cool, they’re not dicks. Let’s not be dicks! There’s enough trauma in the world; enough bad shit is going on. A little gratitude and being nice to each other makes a world of difference.”

Nachos at Ethyl's
Nachos at Ethyl’s

The newly rolled-out weekend brunch menu dishes up eats like shrimp loaf, breakfast burritos, veggie omelets, and a monte cristo with cayenne maple. Soon, more legit entrées will join the night menu. There are specialty cocktails like the Hot Pants Punch (Sailor Jerry, pineapple, lemon, grenadine, and a Meyers dark rum float) and the Bump and Grind (Bulleit rye, brandy cherries, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liquor, and Burlesque bitters), along with straight spirits and beer on tap (hailing mostly from the Northeast).

Already, the crowd is a diverse mix: young and old, gay and straight, New York newbies and Upper East Side old-timers. When I ask Gerard how they make that mix happen, he says it goes back to the neighborhood vibe they want to build: “Even if you take everything else away from Ethyl’s — the Seventies theme, the New York theme — people want the experience we’re creating, for the most part. They want a good drink, tasty food, and spending time with people who are fun and cool and friendly. They want to listen to good music and enjoy their time. It’s like, lighten up!”

Party on.


Joe & MissesDoe: Struggle, Change, and Triumph

The dining room is small, and in the pre-dinner light of a Wednesday afternoon, it’s quiet. “Food and Drink” blares out in neon over the kitchen, and yellow light streams in from the shaded storefront looking out on First Street. Joe and Jill Dobias — the husband-and-wife/chef-and-front-of-house-manager team behind Joe & MissesDoe (45 East 1st Street; 212-780-0262) — speak over each other in quips, jokes, and jibes, the cheer in their voices pinging off the walls.

Seated together at a table flanked by the church pews they drove in from out of state, they immediately start talking. Though he holds his own against his friendly, chatty partner, Joe confesses he’s rather shy: “This is my element, where I have my chef coat on and can talk about my passion,” he explains, “but when we go out to eat, she orders.” They launch into how they love their restaurant, and how their struggles make them love the industry even more so today than when they first opened, as JoeDoe, in 2008.

Joe had graduated from Cornell, worked his way around New York kitchens, and landed under Peter Hoffman at Savoy; Jill was a professional ballet dancer. Dating at the time, the two opened JoeDoe on the sleepy south side of First Street between First Avenue and Bowery as a rather traditional fine-dining space. A month after they opened, without an investor and with eighty thousand dollars on credits cards, the market crashed. But with no financial partners requiring them to make “grandma’s meatballs,” they handled the space themselves and kept expenses down.

“We’re so hands-on, and we want to be,” says Joe of their six-day-a-week schedule. “I went into cooking to cook.” He’s always at the (electric) stove in the tiny open kitchen, and Jill handles everything from the cocktail menu to staff training to greeting guests by name.

Tilefish, beet basmati rice, and parsnip puree by Joe Dobias
Tilefish, beet basmati rice, and parsnip puree by Joe Dobias

In the beginning, the menu was a conglomeration of popular dishes others were cooking at the time and Jill’s solid takes on classic cocktails. “We didn’t know what we were doing when we opened,” she says. “We got all positive reviews and everything, but it took us a while to get where we are. To where we have finesse, where we understand our style and our strengths.” In 2014, they gave the restaurant space a more casual makeover and rechristened as Joe and Misses Doe, serving a bar menu and a chef’s tasting menu… that they don’t like to call a tasting menu.

“It’s more about our style in general,” Jill says of the four-course (with two options on three of the courses), $48 meal that changes every two weeks or so. “Joe’s style has always been approachable. He’s not plating with tweezers. So it’s a cross between a chef’s tasting menu and, well, something that feels very familiar.”

“It’s not dainty, and there’s no ‘tiny thing’ on the plate,” Joe explains. “The menu is fully flushed out with my style, versus the conglomerate rock-style stuff I got recognized for in the beginning. But we haven’t intensified the service so that it’s stuffy — Jill’s not gonna come over and not hug you because we’re doing a ‘tasting menu’ now.”

The Honey Beer by Jill Dobias
The Honey Beer by Jill Dobias

When the Voice visited, that menu included seared golden tilefish on a bed of basmati rice (seasoned with beet juice to a dashing, bright red). The current menu offers sausage dumplings with broccoli rabe sauce and pecorino, soft-shell crab with dirty rice and Old Bay seasoning, and a wildflower honey custard with “Turkish crisp.” On the bar menu are a brisket sandwich with cheddar, onions, and pepper mayo as well as fried matzo, and deviled eggs. Pretzel challah with honey butter is always on offer — another nod to Jill’s Jewish heritage and New York City’s panache.

“Less is more, in general,” says Joe of his plates now. “I’ve learned how hard simplicity is; what needs to be on the plate versus what I want to be on the plate. Before, a lot of the motivation was looking at a high design element and working my way back, whereas now I can purely put something together and make it look effortless and not so worked.”

And then there’s Jill’s cocktail menu.

“When you start to create your own things, it takes time to figure out what works for you,” she says. “I don’t like sweet cocktails and I don’t like juices, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I don’t like the speakeasy style of Aperol and Campari and cinnamon and nutmeg rinse on everything — I use chili and sambal and smoked salt. Right now, I’m into hot garnishes on cold cocktails, so during service, I’m running into the kitchen to burn shit on the flattop. I griddle lemon so it melts the ice, which becomes the water element in an old-fashioned.”

Joe says that Jill was one of the first in the city to feature beer cocktails, too. The “Muddy Puddle” combines sweet bourbon, stout, iced espresso, and peanut dust; the “Honey Beer” gin, ale, and a salted-honey rim. Every cocktail has its designated glass, just as Jill sources handmade, elegant plateware for Joe’s food. “I’m obsessed with plates,” she says. “When we use a plate for too long we put it into the vault and switch it out. People expect dumpy, short-stemmed wine glasses. No. I’ve developed a style with the glassware that’s important to me.”

“It goes back to how we stay casual but formal,” Joe says. “The table doesn’t have a white cloth on it, but your food will be served on an eighty-dollar plate.”

In two years, the Dobiases’ lease will expire, a fact that both excites and brings them comfort more than anything. As a team, they’ve built their neighborhood joint on customer service and friendly, approachable food more than anything, and they’ve watched the neighborhood change from hardcore locals to young, moneyed transients. They started the business while dating and are now happily married and equal partners in their restaurant. (Well, almost. Jill actually owns 52 percent, though she often gets a condescending ‘head pat’ from those who assume she’s just the chef’s wife.)

Pretzel challah with salted honey butter
Pretzel challah with salted honey butter

“I think we’re even closer now,” says Joe of their partnership. “In the beginning, this restaurant was my thing. Then there was a shift when it became our thing. My needing to teach her things (or just thinking I needed to teach her things) shifted to trusting that she knows what she needs to do, and she trusts that I know what I need to do. We can turn to each other and tell each other to give it a rest; to point out when something’s not important.”

That trust has taken them far — as has the ability to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. There was a rocky period when Joe was getting slammed for some off-color remarks he’d made on social media, and he recognizes that had he worked for someone else he could have been “canned the same day.” But together, they can move throughout the restaurateur world of New York learning as they go, and relying on each other and their capabilities when things get tight (which is part of the reason they have a side catering business to counter slow nights at the restaurant, and vice versa).

They’re only now dipping their toes into television and cookbookery, confident in themselves as fully formed hospitality personalities rather than kids trying to get into a spotlight. And while they used to actively try to get on the “lists” most restaurants aspire to, now they’re content to fall into their press naturally and let their business continue to “grow with integrity.”

“I’m idealistic about the restaurant business,” says Joe. “Part of the reason I hate Manhattan sometimes is because I know this restaurant won’t be here in fifty years and so I can’t give it to my son or daughter; that won’t happen. But our lease ending is an exciting thing for us because it’s a sense of accomplishment. We opened a month before the economic downtown in 2008; timing has never been my forte! So to be able to go bare bones and slide through the lowest of the low, to figure out how to keep the lights on and the landlord off your back…we’re workers. We’re in it.”


La Loba Brings Oaxacan Mezcal-Sipping Culture to Brooklyn

The stretch of Brooklyn’s Church Avenue between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue may not feel exactly like Mexico — especially not with vehicles honking in line at a Hollywood Car Wash that’s just up the street from the Brooklyn Islamic Center. However, there are some south-of-the-border notes a keen observer might pick up on: The scent of pan dulces wafts from a bakery that also sells pints of excellent house-made mole, while on a side street, a fairly new restaurant does a brisk taco delivery business. Adding to the low-key but burgeoning scene is La Loba (709 Church Ave, Brooklyn; 347-295-1141), a new cantina with a focus on mezcal and casual bites from Oaxaca that’s hoping to become a staple for locals and a destination for anyone searching for a relaxing place to sip a drink with friends.

“We weren’t sold on Church Avenue when we first moved here,” says Jeff James, who co-owns La Loba with his wife, Meredith Sheehy. The couple had been living on the Lower East Side before moving to Brooklyn’s Kensington neighborhood, which they did because, as he says, “We were sick of people puking outside of our front door.”

James and Sheehy didn’t know much about their new area, but they quickly grew to love it. Neither has a professional food background, but they share a love of Oaxacan food and drink. When the couple decided it was time to find a space for their first restaurant, they found it more appealing to take a chance on a sleepy block in their backyard than to build their passion project in a far-flung neighborhood.

“Every other neighborhood…it didn’t feel like the right fit, and we like being out here,” says Sheehy. “At first, though, we didn’t think anyone would come in. We thought we’d open the business and people would be like, ‘Who are these weirdos, what is mezcal?’ But we love that there’s already a big Latino community established here. We realized maybe it’s a better fit than we thought.”

From left: La Loba's Christian Cabrejos, Jeff James, Miriam Yanez, and Meredith Sheehy
From left: La Loba’s Christian Cabrejos, Jeff James, Miriam Yanez, and Meredith Sheehy

Part of embracing the community included hiring local staff with some Mexican-cooking chops. Miriam Yanez, who also runs a flower shop down the street, is one of two local women who have helped the kitchen grow. Yanez’s Oaxacan tamales — packages of silky smooth, slightly sweet corn masa wrapped in a banana leaf — were so popular that they have ended up as a sort of permanent special, even though Sheehy and James hadn’t originally intended to put tamales on the regular menu.

“It sounds cheesy, but I like to think we’re more collaborative than other places,” says Sheehy. “Miriam brings to the table a different set of skills and experiences, for instance. This couldn’t be done without these amazingly talented people who have worked with us in the kitchen from the start.”

The dishes on the regular menu are just as special as Yanez’s tamales. Sheehy drives from Sunset Park to Bushwick to source herbs, cheeses, and more from various small purveyors to serve up authentic Oaxacan dishes like tlayuda (a popular street snack that’s often referred to as Mexican pizza) and tetelas (fresh masa from Queens’s Tortilleria Nixtamal is grilled and folded around smooth pureed black beans, queso fresco, and crema.) Though more of a Yucatán specialty, the panuchos at La Loba are a standout, featuring a smaller masa tortilla piled high with shredded pork that’s stewed in a rich sauce with a good kick. That sauce is too much for some diners, apparently, as Sheehy says she had to add the word “spicy” to the menu, for those who might be sensitive to a little heat.

Tlayuda, a popular street snack that’s often referred to as Mexican pizza.
Tlayuda, a popular street snack that’s often referred to as Mexican pizza.

The one thing you definitely won’t find on La Loba’s menu? Tacos.

“We’re both from California; we love tacos,” says Sheehy. “But people need to get over that that is the only medium for masa.”

The use of fresh masa means the tortillas are pressed to order — which also means food can be slow to leave the kitchen. People who come to the space with a cantina frame of mind may not notice or care. Sheehy explains that while they carefully considered each item on the menu, the food is almost secondary, just as it is in Oaxaca. The goal is to get customers to sip on one of more than thirty types of mezcal currently available on a revolving list.

“It’s a different drinking experience altogether,” she explains. “It’s less cocktail-focused, less get-in-get-out. It’s more of a relaxed drinking culture where people sit down and enjoy mezcal or a beer for what it is. It’s really more of a social experience. And then if they’re hungry, they get food.”

The focus on mezcal is rooted in the co-owners’ love of Oaxaca. Sheehy’s first encounter with the spirit was on a trip that, by chance, led her to a palenque, a distillery that produces mezcal. She was so charmed by the spirit that she brought a bottle home to New York. A week later, she shared it with James on their first date, at which point he, too, was convinced this was something more than just a trendy ingredient for cocktails.

“I was instantly hooked,” he said. “I knew it was a different spirit, something to be sipped.”

While La Loba does have a cocktail menu, which includes drinks like a mezcal mule and tequila-based margaritas, this cantina is all about sipping. The mezcals at La Loba are so varied that they’re getting bottles from about ten different distributors. There’s raicilla, which tastes like blue cheese. Mezcal nerds are after the mezcalero Tio Rey. Fidencio’s Pechuga is distilled with a raw chicken breast hanging from the cap of the still. Fidencio Clásico, the company’s mezcal, is one well drink that’s easy to savor straight.

“We love serving margaritas, but we really love serving mezcal,” says Sheehy. “This is a beautiful spirit that’s best enjoyed straight, and the more people who do, the more they realize it’s not an intimidating spirit. We want to be the place where you drink it straight.”

La Loba has a spacious front room with a bar toward the back, and another dining area in the rear that looks into the open kitchen.
La Loba has a spacious front room with a bar toward the back, and another dining area in the rear that looks into the open kitchen.

Mezcal fans from other parts of the city will find La Loba is like a vacation mere blocks from the Prospect Expressway. Pull up a stool at the bar next to nearby residents and after-hours crews from neighboring restaurants who’ve already discovered it’s what they’ve been seeking in a local hangout.

“Even though this feels like an untested area out here, we were here,” says Sheehy. “And if we’re here, there are other people here who are also going to be into what we’re into.”

La Loba Cantina
709 Church Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-855-4193


Brooklyn Speed Coffee Builds Community Inside the Formerly Raucous Flat

How do you improve neighbor relations? Give them free doughnuts.

That’s one of the many ideas brewing at Brooklyn Speed Coffee (308 Hooper Street, Brooklyn; 347-878-7474). The café opened a few months ago and shares a space with the Flat — a bar and nightclub with a reputation for wild parties that often spilled out onto the street, attracting crime, violence, and the ire of neighbors.

When the bar was closed during the day, Brooklyn Speed Coffee would whip up drinks through the afternoon before the nighttime crowd arrived. However, soon after the coffee shop opened, the Flat lost its liquor license.

“It was a mess,” explains Max Brennan, owner of the Flat. “It really was.” But, he says, that’s all in the past now.

Brennan is currently waiting on a new liquor license application to go through so he can prove his good intentions to the community. Luckily, Brooklyn Speed Coffee’s presence has already had positive effects on the Flat’s reputation.

Michael Greenwald, a former musician and the Flat’s next-door neighbor of several years, came up with the idea for the café after looking for a space to open a coffee shop. He realized the perfect spot had been under his nose the whole time.

“When it was just a bar, I was sitting having a drink and I said, ‘It’s a shame this place doesn’t open until six,'” says Greenwald. “It got back to the owner, and he said he was interested in making it a café. One thing led to another, and we opened up.”

Brooklyn Speed Coffee's Michael Greenwald, who lives next door, saw an opportunity to set up a café during the hours when the Flat, a bar and nightclub open in the evening, was closed.
Brooklyn Speed Coffee’s Michael Greenwald, who lives next door, saw an opportunity to set up a café during the hours when the Flat, a bar and nightclub open in the evening, was closed.

Being in Brooklyn Speed Coffee during the daytime might come as a shock for those who did shots in the VIP room during the Flat’s rowdier days. But for caffeine hounds discovering the café for the first time, they’re likely to find homey appeal in the many couch-filled, pillow-strewn nooks.

There are limited nearby options for places to comfortably sip coffee for hours, so Greenwald and Brennan hope Brooklyn Speed Coffee fills a need for both the laptop crowd and commuters heading to the subway. That is, if they see it.

“You look from the outside you don’t realize what it is,” Greenwald says. “Again and again, people will be staring at it, and they’re like, ‘That’s not a coffee shop.'”

To get people through the doors, Greenwald is thinking up creative lures in addition to the café’s Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee, cayenne chai lattes, and a selection of house-made breakfast burritos. Local jazz musicians regularly play on the space’s small stage, and the café is considering a rewards program for patrons who bring new friends to the space. Then, of course, there are the free doughnuts.

At Brooklyn Speed Coffee, the espresso machine is adjacent to the DJ booth that's set up for the Flat, the bar and nightclub that hopes to reopen and share the space again soon.
At Brooklyn Speed Coffee, the espresso machine is adjacent to the DJ booth that’s set up for the Flat, the bar and nightclub that hopes to reopen and share the space again soon.

At the upcoming Great Dough Down, customers who buy a drink will get samples of Brooklyn-made doughnuts — including Moe’s Doughs (which the café stocks daily), Dough, Dun-Well Doughnuts, and more — and vote on their favorite. For Greenwald, who loves coffee but doesn’t consider himself a “foodie,” the real attraction of this event is the chance to meet neighbors and help create a more community-minded space.

“I think it sounds fun. There’s a social thing around going to get food with your friends,” he says. “That’s the more interesting thing for me — the doughnuts are only so interesting.”

Part of the character of the space is certainly due to the Flat’s raucous aura, but also comes from the surrounding neighborhood, where the Hispanic and Hasidic communities have spent the past decade watching as more and more young gentrifiers have moved in. While it’s a motley crew that visits the café, it is more reflective of the newer residents than of those more established ones.

“It’s partly the neighborhood and it’s partly the space,” Greenwald says. “When I first conceptualized it, I viewed it as glass and sleek and modern, and then I realized no, that’s not what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be crazy, and a little unkempt.”

"We’re that grab-and-go that’s a higher level than the deli," says Brooklyn Speed Coffee's Michael Greenwald of their breakfast burritos.
“We’re that grab-and-go that’s a higher level than the deli,” says Brooklyn Speed Coffee’s Michael Greenwald of their breakfast burritos.

As for the Flat, once they get their new liquor license, the old level of “crazy” will be turned down significantly. Brennan says that was already the model at the time the café opened, just before the Flat lost its license. Once the Flat is back up and running, they’re aiming to be a slightly more mellow venue.

“We’re going to stick with the jazz that we were doing previously…and indie rock bands. But we’re not going to have any more hip-hop acts,” Brennan says. “We can definitely not open with the same business model,” he adds. “We have to curb those crazy, rowdy parties.”

Brooklyn Speed Cafe is hosting the Great Dough Down this weekend, on March 5 and 6, starting at 9 a.m. each day, until supplies run out.

Brooklyn Speed Coffee shop by day, and the Flat bar by night — once the liquor license returns
Brooklyn Speed Coffee shop by day, and the Flat bar by night — once the liquor license returns



The Lower East Side’s Beloved Black Crescent Finally Returns

There are countless adages that seem appropriate for life’s bumps and bruises (especially those involving kitchens), but the Japanese proverb “Fall seven times, stand up eight” seems to best encapsulate the trials Black Crescent (76 Clinton Street; 212-477-1771) has gone through since a fire knocked out the business in January of 2015. The New York restaurant scene is notorious for a steady stream of openings and closings, but Black Crescent’s refusal to throw in the bar towel after overcoming numerous hurdles has assured that Clinton Street will be a busy destination this weekend.

Black Crescent’s partners — including owners, Carlos Baz and Michael Reynolds, as well as chef Dustin Everett — were committed to reopening despite the fact that they were standing in a room filled with two feet of water just days after the electrical fire last year. However, it became clear with each passing week that someone else was going to determine how long it would be until the restaurant could open its doors again.

The initial fire and water damage were devastating, but the process of getting the gas turned back on — along with other difficulties like getting approval from the Department of Buildings — was equally demoralizing. The owners initially thought Black Crescent would be approved to open after a five-month period, but the new time frame for reopening went from a sprint to a marathon. Forms were rejected because they weren’t printed on double-sided paper. Approval for a hot-water boiler was met with a “No.”

The moment the gang realized an exact reopening date wouldn’t be part of the plan was a low point for them, and they resigned themselves to being ready for “whenever the city got around to it.” But that delay did have some benefits.

Baz, Reynolds, and Everett had the opportunity to fine-tune all the aspects of their food and bar offerings. It also helped them connect with the surrounding community, as unsolicited feedback and encouragement helped reinforce the idea that Black Crescent was meant to be there. The fears of becoming an afterthought were erased each time a neighbor asked about a reopening date.

“We couldn’t have gotten to this point without the neighborhood,” says Baz, who credits fellow Lower East Siders like Donnybrook, Jeromes, and Pig and Khao as part of the restaurant’s support system.

“We’ve all grown a little bit closer together because we’ve gone through this ordeal,” adds Reynolds.

Though just being open and having the gas turned on is exciting, the partners have plans to go big when they hit their one-year anniversary. For the bash, they’re planning on bringing in their Clinton Street neighbor Andy Lin, creator of the Self Portrait Project. Lin’s photo booth allows guests be both model and photographer, a fitting sentiment for a bar that can finally be what it was meant to be.

Black Crescent will be welcoming guests throughout the weekend for drink specials, but Sunday, February 28 marks the first official day of food and cocktail service.

Black Crescent
76 Clinton Street


Cocktail Magic: Boozy Festival Stirs Up Fun With Magicians and Mixology

What happens when you pair award-winning mixologist Julie Reiner with the creators of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Outside Lands? Cocktail magic. Literally. Immersive live entertainment organizers Superfly (co-founders and co-producers of the aforementioned festivals) have announced their latest event, Cocktail Magic, a celebration of cocktails, with music and illusionists, and bites by Roberta’s.

“It’s an extravaganza of cocktails and magic,” says Reiner, owner of the Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge. “It’s going to be really fun.”

The goal is to bring some of the country’s best bars together under one roof, in four different cities — New York City; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Boston — with imaginative entertainment. Local bars are participating in each city, along with a few traveling mixologists from Miami and Chicago’s Broken Shaker, Denver’s Williams & Graham, and Reiner’s Clover Club. Magicians Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Noah Levine, Francis Menotti, and Joshua Jay are performing tricks and illusions throughout every event. The last hour of each party culminates with live DJ sets by well-known artists including Vacationer (DC), Baio (NYC), Neon Indian (Boston), and St. Lucia (Chicago).

Organizer Kerry Black won’t divulge full details, but he says to expect interesting decor and great entertainment in an intimate environment. The capacity tops out at 1,000 people per session, so the focus will really emphasize a fun drink experience. “There’s stuff you can do with cocktails in an intimate event you can’t in a festival,” Black explains.

For Superfly, the transition to food has been almost a given as food culture shifted from bland pizza and McDonald’s burgers to artisanal wood-fired pies and foie-gras-topped patties. A few years ago, Bonnaroo started expanding its lineup by emphasizing better dishes. Not long after that, Black and his team started emphasizing cocktails with an area called GastroMagic at Outside Lands that brought in high-end bites and San Francisco bars. Black says the reaction was great. “There’s been a massive movement there,” he says. “You can’t go to a festival now and serve soggy chicken fingers.”

The mother of the modern craft cocktail, Julie Reiner, is bringing together the country's top bar chefs for a four-city event.
The mother of the modern craft cocktail, Julie Reiner, is bringing together the country’s top bar chefs for a four-city event.

Reiner had worked with the team for events in the past. She did drinks for the VIP area of GoogaMooga, and according to Reiner, the idea for Cocktail Magic spawned from there. Superfly approached her with a vision: “It was like, how can we do something really cool that’s a traveling cocktail event featuring the best cocktails, but also the things you can expect from Superfly, like monkeys and magic?” (More on that in a minute.)

Shortly after signing on, Reiner suggested they bring on Andy Seymour, co-founder of Liquid Production, educator, and partner at renowned training course Beverage Alcohol Resource (B.A.R.). Together, Reiner and Seymour curated a list of mixologists they wanted to bring into the fold and narrowed down the cities to places that are close together and have thriving bar scenes.

Reiner and Seymour are working with each of the bars involved to make sure the selection is diverse, but the goal is to let each one bring their best in show with a couple of different options per establishment. “We’re giving all the bars creative license,” says Reiner. “So many of them have a different focus; a bar like Leyenda will most likely do something Latin inspired or tequila based. Other bars are more rum or tiki inspired.”

While Reiner has an idea of what to expect in the beverage department, she still has no idea what’s going to happen with the entertainment — other than the fact that there’s music and magic. Given her past experiences she’s eagerly anticipating the event. “I’m most excited to see what they’re going to do,” she says. “I walked into the VIP [area] at GoogaMooga, and there were people walking on stilts and monkeys walking around.”

“We won’t have any monkeys, but we definitely will have a lot of great activities and decor,” adds Black.

The traveling cocktail circus is hitting venues in four cities during its short tour: Dock5, in Washington, D.C., on March 12; Brooklyn’s Weylin B. Seymour‘s (175 Broadway, Brooklyn; 718-963-3639), on March 19; the Castle at Park Plaza, in Boston, on March 26; and Chicago’s Morgan Manufacturing, on April 1.

For the Brooklyn fest, expect to see the folks from Attaboy, Dead Rabbit, Death + Co., Dutch Kills, End of the Century Bar, Mother of Pearl, Nitecap, PDT, and Pouring Ribbons. Leyenda will stand in for Clover Club at the local gathering. Baio is the onsite DJ, while Armstrong, Holtzclaw, Menotti, and Levine will show off their illusion entertainment skills.

The cost to attend is $124.50, which includes entry, cocktails, magic, music, and hearty snacks. Some early-bird tickets are available for $99. “First Pour” tickets — which allow early access one hour before the main event — cost $159.50. For more information, visit

Here’s the official lineup for the four-city tour:

Washington, D.C.

Eat the Rich
Quarter + Glory
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Rose’s Luxury
The Dabney
The Gibson
Broken Shaker (Chicago)
Clover Club (NYC)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s
DJ set by: Vacationer
Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Francis Menotti, and Joshua Jay

Brooklyn, NY
Weylin B. Seymour’s
March 19, 2016
10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Dead Rabbit
Death + Co.
Dutch Kills
End of the Century Bar
Mother of Pearl
Pouring Ribbons
Broken Shaker (Chicago)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s
DJ set by: Baio
Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Francis Menotti, and Noah Levine

Boston, MA
The Castle at Park Plaza
March 26, 2016
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Alden & Harlow
Café Artscience
Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
Loyal Nine
The Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden
The Hawthorne
Broken Shaker (Chicago)
Clover Club (NYC)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s
DJ set by: Neon Indian
Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Noah Levine, and Francis Menotti

Chicago, IL
Morgan Manufacturing

Broken Shaker
Lost Lake
Sable Kitchen & Bar
Sportsman’s Club
The Betty
The Drifter
The Game Room
Barrelhouse Flat
Clover Club (NYC)
Dead Rabbit (NYC)
Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s
DJ set by: St. Lucia
Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, and Noah Levine


10 Winning Places in NYC to Eat, Drink, and Watch Super Bowl 50

We have a legible Super Bowl title this year — finally. Distracting Roman numerals be damned! Super Bowl “50″ will occupy living rooms, restaurants, and bars this Sunday and various questions abound: Will this be the final game for All-American hero Peyton Manning before he retires into the sunset? Is this the coming out party for the fresh quarterback stud Cam Newton, a player who’s dabbed his way into the soul of the South? Most of all, where are the best places and deals for face-stuffing in between the commercials whose production cost more than the yearly rent of your entire apartment complex?

Consider this list your Joe Buck-style culinary play-by-play:

Ambrose Beer and Lobster (18 Fulton Street, 212-480-0301) In a sea of fried foods, why not consider the lobster? This South Street Seaport hub plans to offer a Super Bowl special of four lobster rolls, two orders of fries with a pitcher of beer for $99. Also included: beer pong.

Syndicated (40 Bogart Street, Brooklyn; 718-386-3399) At its core, the Super Bowl is a theatrical event with tons of booze on the side. The new restaurant/bar/independent movie theater Syndicated understands this and is offering two specialty cocktails for the occasion: a Colorado Bulldog (vodka, Kahlua, and a splash of cream, topped with Coca-Cola) for the Broncos and an Ice Pick (iced tea, vodka and lemon juice) for the Panthers. Plus, due to overwhelming demand, the theater will air the Super Bowl on the big screen.

Mustang Harry’s (352 7th Avenue, 212-268-8930) The difference between a mustang and a bronco is slight (the former is free-roaming while the latter remains untamed) but the similarities between Mustang Harry’s and the Mile High City are strong. For the past five seasons, this pub around the corner from MSG has been the definitive Broncos bar in New York City. Clad in orange and blue, fans of Manning and Co. shall trek no further than midtown Manhattan.

Amity Hall (80 West 3rd Street, 212-677-2290) They call themselves the Big Apple Riot. Panthers fans congregate on Sundays at the Greenwich Village spot Amity Hall, where a Carolina blue-hued light illuminates the top of the bar. Here you’ll find beer-brand sponsored prizes and giveaways for this Sunday’s game time, but the menu is remaining consistent – and for good reason: “We are going with the exact same specials we always go with so we don’t jinx anything,” says co-owner Dave McCarthy. Superstations are crazy only if they don’t work out.

Miss Lily’s (132 West Houston Street/109 Avenue A, 646-588-5375) Sometimes the best seat in the bar can’t compare to the La-Z-Boy in your own apartment. There are heaps of catering opportunities throughout the city, but for those in the Village, look no further than Miss Lily’s Jamaican-inspired cuisine. The $220 “Super Deal” feeds ten and includes two dozen jerk wings, ten pieces of jerk corn, and ten coconut cupcakes. You might be cutting it close by ordering a few days before the big game, but a fourth quarter hustle is always worth a try.

The Gander (15 West 18th Street, 212-229-9500) Last year saw the debut of the Gander Bowl and chef Jesse Schenker seems determined to return to it with sophomore tenacity. Upping the price tag ten bucks to $65 this year, The Gander is making every dollar count with its all-you-can-eat-and-drink party featuring the undisputed classics: wings, sliders, ribs, and mac ‘n’ cheese with all the beer and punch bowls a gut can take.

Haven Rooftop (132 West 47th Street, 212-466-9000) The last time the Broncos were at this dance – Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 – the Seahawks dismantled them 43-8. If something of this caliber were to occur again, the bar in which to see it would be this Times Square venue. The views off to the side of the TV screen are spectacular. One hundred smackeroos gets you price of admission, open bar, and an à la carte menu after half time, but the supreme metropolitan skyline sights are on the house.

Pork Slope (247 5th Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-768-7675) This Park Slope pork house wears its meat on its sleeve. For the Super Bowl, that sleeve is getting a whole lot heftier. A $50 all-you-can-eat-and-drink special will be offered for eating in, as well as a three-tier take-out package. From $50 to $150, the offerings cover all the basics from wings to sliders.

TY Bar Four Seasons Hotel (57 East 57th Street, 212-758-5700) Elegant attire and mesh jerseys seldom mix, but the Four Season’s luxurious TY Bar aims to blend the two with their Super Bowl soirée. Sporting a hi-def screen measuring 12 by 12 feet (a self-proclaimed “largest in the city”), TY Bar has also created a “Versus Menu” inspired by each team and their hometown. Panthers have their pulled pork sliders with hush puppies while the Broncos are represented by bison cheeseburgers and spiced lamb skewers.

The Standard Biergarten (848 Washington Street, 212-645-4646) A biergarten seems like the most suitable spot for a football watch party: Large tables for a gaggle of fans, sodium-rich snacks, and beer by the liter are the appropriate ingredients for an afternoon by the TV. The folks at Standard Biergarten realized this potential and are booking eight-person tables with a $500 spending minimum. Jumbo pretzels and bratwursts will be in high supply with the promise of prizes, games, and “t-shirt gun fun.”