Sunny’s 253 Conover St.
Bait & Tackle 320 Van Brunt St.
Pioneer BBQ 318 Van Brunt St.
So I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard about this Red Hook thing by now. Blah blah Fairway, new restaurants, blah. According to some of the more, ahem, excitable media folks, Red Hook is going to be the East Village by Friday after next. Now, if you’re like me (lazy), you probably put off checking the place out because it is very far away, and there are nice bars and restaurants within stumbling distance from your house. It’s tough to argue with that, because Red Hook is, indeed, very far away. Very very far. Like you think once you’ve crossed the BQE you’re nearly there, but you’re not, you’re only halfway there. I know lots of people in this city are weird about buses, but if you’re going to Red Hook, take the bus.
The good news is that unlike other “up and coming” neighborhoods with a “population of artists” (cough Bushwick cough,) Red Hook isn’t just a cheaper, less American Apparel-ified version of the closer-to-Manhattan neighborhood it abuts. Red Hook is actually really really cool. Really! It’s got this weird old-timey industrial vibe, but it also feels homey and neighborhoody. There’s all this cool-ass architecture and cobblestones and little parks that drop directly into the East River, and coffee shops not chock-a-block with strollers and jerks. Best of all, despite all the recent pants-creaming over the place, it doesn’t have that doomed feel that most cool and discovered neighborhoods get, because the transportation is so bad. Ibanker Mcjackoff isn’t going to want to take the bus to the F train at five in the morning to make opening bell. (And c’mon, don’t give me this water taxi shit. Please.)
Anyway, take it from me, a sedentary slob: Red Hook is worth a visit. Sunny’s (Conover and Beard) is good, though they’ll glare at you if you talk while live music is happening. Bait & Tackle (Van Brunt and King) is beloved by many, but I couldn’t handle the wall decorations. I mean, ok, animal heads are fine but some of these guys are gnarly — only their dead, dead eyes have survived un-fucked-up through the years. For the snacks-booze-outside space trifecta, Pioneer BBQ (Van Brunt and Pioneer) is hard to beat. They even have a bunch of vegetarian BBQ foods. So c’mon, lazy bones, get on that B61 bus. If nothing else, doesn’t your local bartender deserve a break every now and again?