The Great Greenpoint Dive Crawl 2014

Fancy bars and restaurants with all sorts of sexy food and drink (Tørst, Beloved, Nights and Weekends) are all over Greenpoint these days, but let’s face it – sometimes you just want get hammered on a budget, pay homage to the neighborhood’s longtime establishments, or just check out something different and new (or old). Greenpoint definitely has no shortage of dive bars, but where to begin?

This weekend I hung out in some of these dives (a.k.a. “old man” bars) in the neighborhood and got to know them and their clientele a little better. I scoped out the drink specials, watched Jeopardy with the regulars, and relaxed in some sweet backyards. And now I present to you, along with my little rating system, some of the neighborhood’s best kept secrets:

Irene’s Pub (623 Manhattan Ave)

Irene's Pub

Despite being so centrally located, Irene’s is somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps most Greenpointers are unfamiliar with the bar’s philosophy:”it’s happy hour all the time,” which I verified as TRUTH. Irene’s prices are actually equivalent to happy hour deals, all the time – we’re talking $2 drafts and dirt-cheap mixed drinks. I repeat: all day and night long.

$1 Jell-O shot - on the house, of course!

 

The regulars are, uh, pretty friendly – as I was standing next to the bar, an older gentleman patted a stool next to him and insisted I “come sit down.” After politely declining the offer, I chatted with one of the bartenders who offered me a Jell-O shot and told me a little about Irene’s history as well as their sister bar, Capri Social Club. Both establishments are owned by Irene herself and have been around for about a century.

Irene's Bar

There’s no kitchen or patio, but you can BYO Food. And who needs a kitchen with all those cheap drinks anyway?

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Capri Social Club (156 Calyer Street)

Capri Social Club
Capri Social Club

As mentioned above, Irene owns both (ahem) Irene’s and CSC, as I will fondly refer to this holiest of dives. I had never been inside CSC but have always been intrigued by the name and by their sign, which looks like it has been in place since at least the mid-sixties. And I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped inside – the place has a charming mix of Irish and Polish influence, and is huge!

CSC's cavernous interior
Like its sister bar, there is no patio or kitchen (other than for private events), but the spacious interior is great for a party, where you can tempt your friends with cheap, cheap drinks ($3 PBR, a “Frosty Mug” beer special for $4, and of course $1 Jell-O shots). There are also many large screen TVs if sports is your thing, and a jukebox stocked with the History of Rock hits by year, as well as The Rolling Stones’ Forty Licks.
Lots of classic rock selections at Capri Social Club

I’ve heard CSC has also been host to several crazy dance parties in the recent past – hopefully we’ll see one of these crop up this summer.

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Connie O’s (158 Norman Ave)

Connie O's green paint captures the spirit of a true neighborhood Irish pub

Admittedly, Connie O’s isn’t much to look at from the outside… or inside, and the regulars will acknowledge that proudly. But once you enter and pass the dungeon-y interior to the back door, you’ll be pleasantly surprised– what Connie’s does have is a really, really cute backyard with a lovely view of the surrounding apartments.

This backyard rules.

Summer is finally arriving, and you’ll need a spacious, relaxing backyard in which to imbibe. Plus, Connie’s got some interesting drink specials, such as “Kinky Vodka” and Fireball shots for a couple bucks. Again, no food here, but I doubt they give a shit if you bring your own. And, of course, cheap beer AND free pool.

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Palace Cafe (206 Nassau Ave)

The Palace Cafe

Another hidden (but actually not all that “hidden”) gem, Palace Cafe reigns at the corner of Nassau and Russell, offering a large wood-detailed interior, beautiful old bar, and of course, dirt cheap drinks  i.e. $2 Bud all the time. Apparently it used to be $1.50, but according to the bartender, they “got tired of going to the bank for quarters.”

The Palace Cafe's sexy, curvaceous bar

They’ve also got a book club, a rehearsal space for bands (yes, you read that correctly), free comedy night every last Wednesday of the month, and a rental space for private parties. Plus, there’s a heavy metal jukebox! No patio or food, but the bartenders there don’t kid around with their pour – your dollar definitely goes a long way here, if your intent is to get heavily intoxicated (which it probably should be?).

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Keg & Lantern (97 Nassau Avenue)

© Pinky and the B. on Yelp

Not a dive so much as a casual sports bar, the Keg & Lantern is one of my go-to’s. K&L boasts an excellent selection of draft and bottle beers (32 beers on tap and 2 casks), happy hour food and drink specials (a different one for every night of the week including Monday night mac ‘n’ cheese and a beer for $10!), and what I assume is Greenpoint’s only wall made entirely of beer cans.

K&L's beer wall
K&L's backyard
Plus, there’s the backyard, which is swarming with an eclectic mix of people of all ages during the summer months. Oh, and Pickletinis (if you’re weird like me and like to get drunk on a mix of vodka and pickle brine).

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Boulevard Tavern (579 Meeker Avenue)

Boulevard Tavern

Straddling that weird line between Williamsburg and Greenpoint under the BQE is Boulevard Tavern, another of my go-to’s. Here you’ll find cheap drinks, a decent beer selection, $1 off drafts and well liquor happy hour every day from 4-9pm (9pm!!), free pool, a variety of Coney Island themed art and photography, DJ nights, TV nights, and basically something for everyone. They used to do a $5 all you can eat grill (RIP),  but now offer a full menu with burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese, tater tots, and even a cheese plate with complimentary wine. I’m talking dirt, dirt cheap eats here – mac ‘n’ cheese for $3, a burger for $5, and the list goes on.

© Boulevard Tavern on Facebook
And then there’s the backyard:
© Boulevard Tavern on Facebook

All worth the trip to the “other side of McGuinness.”

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And finally…

The Place Bar and Lounge (269 Norman Avenue)

The Place

Tucked away in a forgotten corner of industrial Greenpoint, where Norman meets Kingsland, is a restaurant and lounge simply named The Place. This Place has all the standard stuff – draft beers, beer and shot specials, TVs, and (delicious) wood-fired brick oven pizza.

We sampled some really delicious brick oven pizza
The bar @ The Place

Although modest in terms of decor, the Place is spacious and has lots of seating and a generous bar. There’s also a rooftop which isn’t currently open to the public but is rentable for private parties. I chatted with the bartender, Julissa, and inquired as to whether the space would be operational this summer for the general public. She told me it’s happened before and that there is a pretty good chance of it happening again, especially after I promised I would bring a million of my friends…although I don’t have a million friends. But if that roof opens, I will be patronizing that rooftop this summer (with my reasonable number of friends) and so should you!

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Friends, the crappy weather will soon be behind us and we have three months of oppressive heat and humidity to look forward to. It’s time to party! Why not do it for super cheap and make some new friends in the process? These bars are awesome, they want your business and they love you. Now go forth and rediscover your neighborhood. And get your ass to Irene’s, all that vodka soaked Jell-O isn’t going to shoot itself, you know.

Cheers!

 

About Lilly F

I was born in Bay Ridge and grew up in Sheepshead Bay. After living on the West Coast for a few years, I returned to New York and have lived on "The Other Side of McGuinness" since 2010. In my spare time I ride bikes and photograph for my blog, Brooklyn Analog. I love the nature, the food, the people, the houses, the dogs, everything about Greenpoint. I can't imagine living in any other neighborhood in Brooklyn!

7 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Both Connie O’s and Palace are incredibly homophobic bars. There are plenty other bars where I’d rather spend my money. Kudos to them for being “local” bars but I’m a native Brooklynite and won’t spend my money to support homophobic fools

    Reply
    • dave says:

      Thanks for letting us know you are a native Brooklynite. That is boss.

      Reply
    • Matt says:

      huh. I’m a gay metalhead and the Palace has been my favorite dive since I moved here years ago… did you find the clientele or the owners to be homophobic? The brothers who own the place have never batted an eye when me and my gay friends have hung out there…

      Reply
      • normaldude says:

        the fat brother Palace bartender called my friend a “paki” once and refused to serve him. my buddy is obviously latino. it was weird. fuck those dudes.

        Reply
  2. jon says:

    The Palace is amazing ,but sometimes you have to remind them to charge you for your drinks. The jukebox is the best in the neighborhood and the crew there is great. I used to live next door and they were the first friendly faces I saw every morning out walking their dogs and they welcomed me home at night as well. Great people.

    Irene’s and Capri Social Club are excellent as well. Nice folks.

    Reply
  3. Kat says:

    In response to Eric’s comment up there…
    Connie O’s is FAR FAR from being homophobic! and That’s a FACT!

    Reply
  4. LOL says:

    Most of these bars are beyond horrible and I wouldn’t recommend going to unless you want to be in a bar with a bunch of mainly drunk old locals. The only good one on the list is Keg, yeah it may be more expensive than the other ones but the atmosphere is far superior and that alone is worth the extra $$.

    Reply

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