Autumn has crept in and I can’t help but feel a little sad that day trips to the Rockaways have gone away, cafes have stowed away their outdoor seating and battened down the window hatches (except for Five Leaves because… well I don’t really know why). The only way to fight this sadness is to replace these feelings with happy moments, happy feelings and most importantly, happy hours.
By embarking on a food-focused Greenpoint happy hour crawl I discovered my preferred method to get a little taste and a lot of feel out of a few places in one night. Here are some of my favorite omnivorous dishes in the hood during the typically alcohol-focused creation known as ‘happy hour.’
Greenpoint Fish and Lobster (114 Nassau Ave.)
A fish counter with a penchant for service, this white-tiled silvery-scaled spot on Nassau Avenue offers oysters for $2, beer and cider for $5, wine and cava for $6, and a catch of the day menu a la carte. And it makes me want to remind you that one dollar oyster promotions are completely unsustainable. Places that are still offering this deal regularly are likely getting oysters from ecocidal farms; we could all do our part by not expecting and seeking dollar oysters.
At Greenpoint Fish, their passion is seeking the most responsibly harvested seafood possible, and their specials are based upon daily fish market offerings. Meaning you’ll get a briny, fresh and salty exploration of the best in season. We got two of each of the three in abundance that night, plus a couple glasses of rosé: This only set us back $11 each and set us forward to embrace the remainder of these sacred hours. Their happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 2-6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 4-6 p.m.
El Born (651 Manhattan Ave.)
The idea for a food-based happy hour crawl was based upon a trip I took to San Sebastian, where every Thursday night they have a self-guided walking tapas-tour; each bar in the city offers one signature dish that comes with a glass of wine. It was only fitting to hit my favorite Spanish restaurant in Greenpoint.
El Born’s happy hour tapas menu lets you choose from 10 offerings (including a personal paella) plus beer, wine, sangria or vermut for $5. According to the staff a ‘tapas Tuesday’ deal is also in the works, offering unlimited tapas for a limited budget. We chose a tortilla Espanola, the croquetas del dia (each for $5) and a house-made sangria, leaving satisfied and for $10 (plus tip!) each. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 3-7 p.m.
Alameda (195 Franklin St.)
Alameda is the Spanish word for an urban orchard or charming tree-lined street, and this hidden gem on Franklin feels mystical as if it was grown out of the neighborhood’s natural environment and to soothe its inhabitants’ needs. With an ovular bar that instinctively brings people together, an imaginative cocktail list that draws you in, plus a Monday-Friday beer and a burger deal that lets you experience the best burger (and requisite worst beer) in Greenpoint for just $12.
Although the burger is hard to refuse, we opted instead for the oysters with a refreshing cucumber mignonette ($2 each) and a couple of tequilas on the rocks for a total of $13 each (plus tip!). The added bonus was the poured-on-site polished concrete bar, the art-deco inspired molding, the back-lit and enticing shelves of spirits and the personable service that was hardly reflected by the meager check. Their happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m.
Le Fanfare (1103 Manhattan Ave)
The atmosphere at this Italian spot in North Greenpoint feels like it should be saved for special occasions, but the service, menu, and happy hour deals at Le Fanfare remind you that you should visit often to make any day feel like an occasion.
The dining room’s long communal farm tables are dotted with fresh flowers and every flavor combination is exquisitely curated. Never too much, yet deeply satisfying. Delicate and pure and memorable the way I imagine life on the island of Sardinia to be. Le Fanfare’s happy hour menu gives you a taste of their best starters, which is the perfect way to wet your appetite for the homemade pasta and decadent entrees on the menu. We couldn’t help ordering the mussels and also went for the stone-ground polenta to sample some down-home Italian comfort.
For $18 each we had an aperol spritz, a glass of wine and our selected small plate while sitting at the charming round marble bar, gazing out of their floor-to-ceiling glass entryway at snippets of life passing through our favorite area of the neighborhood. Their happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Find them at 1103 Manhattan Ave.
Naked Dog (47 Java St.)
The last stop on our happy hour tour took us to a quiet corner on West Street and into one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in the area. The Naked Dog is fairly unassuming: A rustic-chic interior, excessively pleasant staff, unique lighting and an overall feeling that makes you want to stay for a while. And then the food arrives and you take your first bite and you desperately feel the need to disrupt the comfort and serenity and grab the person next to you and say, “wait, what the fuck is happening right now?”
Naked Dog’s happy hour lets you sample the best of the menu’s flavors for just $5 a dish. We went for the burrata, the meatballs, and the fried calamari. We opted for a happy hour cocktail each, one gin-based and one tequila-based. Our three plate and two drink special put us back $12.50 each (plus tip). Their happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m.