Once hyped as Brooklyn’s next yuppie playground, Red Hook has settled into being something more modest and pleasant. While it’s a bit of a trek from the subway, the waterfront neighborhood is a sight to behold and, more importantly, teeming with secretly sublime food and drink. From a storied dive bar and South Florida-reminiscent key lime pie to marbled brisket and Korean-inspired American fare, here’s what to eat and drink across Red Hook.Read More
19 Standout Restaurants and Bars in Red Hook
The city’s best barbecue, key lime pie, and mini-golf await
1. Red Hook Winery
New York City is not exactly known for its wineries, but Red Hook Winery, created in 2008 and restored after Hurricane Sandy, crafts surprisingly delicious juice sourcing grapes from all over the state. Get acquainted with an $18 tasting of four wines in two-ounce pours, which can be accompanied by a cheese platter, and enjoy waterfront views in the expansive space. Or skip straight to a bottle of the funky Cabernet Franc, an ideal way to while away an afternoon.
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2. Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies
Without being too obvious, key lime pie is all about the key limes, and Steve’s takes them seriously. The citrus fruit commonly found in South Florida is shipped to this tiny and mostly to-go shop, for a properly tart rendition of the dessert that would make the Sunshine State proud. Skip the more gimmicky bites for the pie itself, a minimalist mix of crunchy graham cracker and smooth filling with just the suggestion of sugar.
Days and nights in Red Hook often start and end at Sunny’s, a multi-room dive bar that doubles as a live-music venue, hosting a regular bluegrass, folk, and country night on Saturdays. The hodgepodge artwork, holiday lights, and outdoor space form an ideal backdrop for hangouts. Cash only.
4. Brooklyn Crab
The tri-level, rowdy Brooklyn Crab is at least as much about festivity as food. While raw oysters and crab steam pots are fairly standard and pricey, the real draw is the bar atmosphere. Play games of mini-golf and cornhole while shooting molluscs and taking in the wide-open water views. Kids welcome.
5. Hometown Bar-B-Que
New York City’s best barbecue is here in Red Hook, where the perfume of animal fat smoked over hours and the long lines are the only indication of the prizes waiting inside. Served from a counter on butcher paper in the warehouse-like setting, meat offerings at Hometown including the fast-selling lamb belly and a standout brisket that can also be tucked into a roll for a sandwich. Lines tend to be long, especially when the weather’s nice, but the music and vibe makes it a party just waiting for food with a beer in hand.
6. Ample Hills Factory and Museum
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Nationwide ice cream company Ample Hills has expanded over the years, and now, it has a flagship shop and factory, too. Ice creams include the signature Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and the decadent PB Wins the Cup, utilizing peanut butter cups that are made in-house. The factory portion is ideal for children, offering an interactive museum about neighborhood history.
7. The Good Fork
From husband-and-wife team Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim, the Good Fork has been delivering reliably flavor-packed, Asian-accented dishes to locals in its vaguely nautical dining room for more than a decade. Dig into homemade pork and chive dumplings or Korean-style steak and eggs, whose beef can be swapped for crispy tofu. For dessert, the purveyors cart in key lime pie from nearby Steve’s. There’s also a pleasant, tree-shaded back garden.
8. Fort Defiance
Fort Defiance is a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant in one that manages to excel on all fronts. The food rotates from a biscuit-and-egg sandwich in the morning to a roasted Berkshire pork chop at dinner. Enjoy cocktails under the guidance of owner and bartender St. John Frizell, formerly of drink destination Pegu Club, at one of the tables or at the bar in the endearingly homey interior.
Baked is a narrow bakery with big ambitions, settled among Van Brunt Street’s strip of neighborhood joints, including Fort Defiance and Kevin’s. The shop sells lavishly designed cakes alongside smaller bites like fudgey brownies and brown sugar blondies. There’s an additional location in Tribeca.
10. Court Street Grocers Hero Shop
This outpost of Court Street Grocers, a mini-chain that offers a hip take on the old hero shop, fixes up creative sandwiches in a no-frills environment. The Droopy nestles roast beef, fried onions, arugula, herbs, and horseradish mayo in a seeded Caputo’s roll. Interesting vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available, here and at additional locations in Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg, and Greenwich Village.
Chef Mary Ellen Amato departed local favorite Court Street Grocers to bring her sandwich bona fides, also developed at Williamsburg’s shuttered Saltie, to her own restaurant Rita in 2018. Daytime fare in the white brick-walled shop ranges from all-day breakfast, including customizable egg sandwiches and oatmeal with fancy toppings, to a $12 lunchtime concoction of sardines and soft-boiled egg packed on pizza bianca with anchovy-oil spread. Coffee from Ninth Street Espresso and numerous vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
12. Brooklyn Ice House
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Cheap beers and shot specials might be the main players at Brooklyn Ice House, which with Sunny’s rounds out the neighborhood’s dive scene, but the food is at least as notable. Cheap eats including chili cheese fries, onions rings, and a blistering grilled hot dog help extend rounds of drinks, especially in the Instagram-worthy back patio. Cash only.
Seafood pervades Red Hook’s food culture, and while to New York outsiders it can feel a bit overpriced for what it is, Kevin’s outdoes the competition in thoughtful preparation. The cozy restaurant feels like someone’s apartment and turns out dishes worthy of a seaside dinner party, including Basque-style paella and eggs Benedict on crab cakes at brunch.
This 20-seat spot, which emerged from the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy, feels uniquely Red Hook. A lively mix of regulars and visitors order from the constantly changing, unorthodox, and vaguely American menu. Small, shareable dishes might include Everything Tacos laced with house-cured gravlax and scallion cream cheese, or a market fish selection poached in duck fat.
15. Red Hook Lobster Pound
Red Hook Lobster Pound brings Maine vibes and lobsters shipped from the state to its picnic table-lined room decorated with nautical flags. Fresh lobster rolls are rightfully popular and available in traditional Maine and Connecticut styles as well as the unconventional BLT and Tuscan. For a more lasting impression, dig into the full lobster dinner or a New England seafood boil, and share the robust selection of other seafood-shack staples. There’s an additional location in the Urbanspace Vanderbilt food hall and a food truck with limited menus.
The barebones lunch-counter trappings of Edward belie wonderfully executed Dominican food, and at a merciful price. Under the bright lights, scan and grab specialties like tostones (fried green plantains) and chicharrones de pollo (fried chicken chunks).
17. Defonte's Sandwich Shop
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Defonte’s, opened in 1922, was once slinging heros stacked with cured pork to dockworkers in the area. Now the secret of the counter-service joint’s top-notch sandwiches is out to a wider audience. Gorge on the Nicky Special, a mammoth sub containing ham, salami, and capocollo, plus fried slices of eggplant, provolone, and hot peppers mixed with oregano and pickled vegetables. Cash only. There’s an additional Staten Island location.
18. El Olomega Pupusas
Brooklyn, NY 11231
The food trucks near the ballfields have dwindled along with their customers as a result of the fields’ cleanup project, but the Vendy Award-winning El Olomega persists. The Salvadoran stalwart draws lines for its pupusas, thick corn-based tortillas stuffed with any number of fillings from pork to zucchini. Cash only.
19. Pizza Moto
It may not get the press of Roberta’s, but Pizza Moto in the no man’s land bordering Carroll Gardens and Red Hook turns out wood-fired pies with smartly sourced ingredients. An Eggs in Hell pizza gets topped with a heaping amount of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, bacon, soft-cooked egg, and chile oil. An abbreviated list of other dishes is available.
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