Do we really need to explain why this is crucial? Whether you're knocking back beers, "savoring" an elaborate cocktail, or just enjoying free ice water and air conditioning while you hang out with your friends, every part of every bar experience is made better by the presence of snacks. Cheap ones.
And really, price is key here. An illustrative story: the other weekend, I was at a (to remain nameless) bar in South Williamsburg, and around 1am, they quietly fired up a grill, filled the backyard and the noses of a bunch of drunk people with barbecue smell, and started charging $15 a plate. It was despicable. Rightly, no one took the bait. If you're going to pay that much money, you should go to a restaurant, and at least enjoy the feeling of being waited upon by another human. If you wanna sit at the bar, soaking up your drinks with a greasy snack? You should be able to do so for $6 or less. There are a lot of excellent places to do that in Brooklyn, sure, but here are 10 of the very best.
Rice balls at Wreck Room
- Photo via The Expeditioner
Given the sheer number of bars in the area (and its straightforward, utilitarian drink options), Wreck Room is one of those places where the snacks are usually the entire you go in the first place. Arancini Bros. is set up right next door, but an ordering window in the bar will keep you from ever having to go back outside if, mid-drink, you decide you need some food (which you will, every time). Some of the higher end rice balls get a little more expensive (I had a squid version once that was purple from the ink, and very worth it), but simple, equally good and cheese-laden options start at $4. And, for what it's worth, this place has the strongest, coldest air conditioning of any bar I know.
940 Flushing Ave., Bushwick
Pizza at Lulu's
- Photo via Victoria K./Yelp
Essentially a much nicer, cozier version of the same free-pizza-with-every-drink deal they have going over at Alligator lounge. They also have a pretty solid array of toppings, if you're willing to spend an extra dollar or two. Which you should be. The pizza is free
, after all.
113 Franklin Ave., Greenpoint
Vegan Empanadas at Pine Box Rock Shop
Sure, it's right around the corner from Wreck Room, but vegan-friendly bar snacks are hard to find, and attention must be paid! $4 will get you a warm, reliably delicious V Spot empanada topped with salsa, which is somehow always exactly the right amount of food to sate but not stuff you when you're drinking. Pine Box also
ships in Tim's Cascade kettle chips all the way from the Pacific Northwest, and they're well worth the extra $1. Especially the jalapeño ones.
12 Grattan St., Bushwick
Pickled Eggs at The Drink
Granted, not for everyone. But if you like your bar snacks, tart, simple, and protein-rich, these things will never let you down. Get 2 for $3, bask in your frugality, take a few minutes to think about how you and your Grandpa aren't really so
228 Manhattan Ave., Williamsburg
Cottage Fries at The Vanderbilt
On the off-chance you're not up for a full-on meal here, The Vanderbilt's bar menu is one of the more thoughtful ones we've seen, with a solid list of $4 options including homemade jerky, fried green tomatoes, fried cauliflower, and most importantly, the cottage fries, which come with spicy mayo and scallions. Not a lot of things in this world are better than thick-cut fries served with some kind of flavored mayo, and the Vanderbilt pays this snack appropriate respect.
570 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights
Frito Pie at Happy Fun Hideaway
Like the Levee before them, Bushwick's newest bar Happy Fun Hideaway has embraced one of the best, most American drunk snacks out there, the frito pie. And if there's any better way to wash down a sizable $5 pile of bean-and-cheese-smothered corn chips than with a sizable $3 glass of Franzia, well, I haven't found it.
1211 Myrtle Ave., Bushwick
Smoked and Fried Pork Nuggets at Char No. 4
Another place where you could go and get yourself an incredible dinner, but parking yourself at the bar and working your way through a plate of $5 pork nuggets while working your way through the extensive whiskey selection seems just as good an option, if not a better one.
196 Smith St., Cobble Hill
Onion Rings at Soda Bar
Should you not feel like springing for a plate of their pierogies ($9), Soda Bar's $4 onion rings are an appropriately onion-y, even more greasy consolation. Being $5 short of what you wanted has never been less sad.
629 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights
Hot Dogs at Daddy's
For a full decade now, Daddy's has had some of the most classic, well-executed bar snacks in all of Brooklyn. They've got Zapp's and soft pretzels, sure, but more importantly, they've got cheap Slant Shack and Meat Hook hot dogs (along with a tofu option), and they're not stingy with the toppings. $4 will get you a basic Slant Shack dog, but for the extra $1, you could get one from the Meathook, served on a pretzel bun with brown mustard and a big sour pickle. Or, I suppose, you could do both.
437 Graham Ave., Williamsburg
Spiced Almonds at Clover Club
These ones are especially important. Without them, this whole list would've been called "$5 and under." But Kristin insists that these $6 spiced almonds are the best bar nuts she's ever had—and that Clover Club in general has some of Brooklyn's very best bar snacks—and I'm not one to turn down good advice (or elaborately sugar-and-spice-encrusted nuts). This isn't a place you'd ever go if you're feeling that low-budget, sure, but snacking on these while you nurse their signature Clover Club cocktail (think gin, egg whites, and everything a fancy summertime drink should be) seems like a pretty worthwhile investment to us.
210 Smith St., Cobble Hill
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.