Previous Next

High fiving at Barcade. Photo by theleetgeeks

ECLECTIC has become an overused word in recent years but it may still be fairly applied to nightlife in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s least easy-to-define neighborhood. From hookup havens to cocktail lounges to bier halls, the world class bar scene stems from a culture clash with few rivals in New York or anywhere.


Barcade’s raison d’etre is thirty vintage video game titles, including Donkey Kong, Frogger, Asteroids, Punch Out!, Gauntlet, DigDug, and many others. Supplement that geeky awesomeness with 25 tap beers featuring a strong local presence, chill bartenders, and even small shelves between games to hold your pint while you blast aliens and rescue princesses.

388 Union Ave 718.302.6464


On the northern fringes of the neighborhood, Turkey’s Nest still represents for your grandparents’ Brooklyn and is unquestionably the best place to drink a beer in a styrofoam cup on the entire planet. This time machine to the golden age of blue collar Brooklyn is a dive in the best sense of the word.

Friendly bartenders, downright cheap prices, a defiantly unhip juke box, and a cast of characters that spans half a century of local flavor are just some of the highlights of this delightful neighborhood bar that has refused to surrender to the hipsters and the too cool crowd.

Spuyten Duyvil. Photo by ladandersen

94 Bedford Ave., 718.384.9774


Bembe lies on a sketchy block under the bridge and looks like an abandoned warehouse as you approach their giant wooden door. Upon entering you’ll be smacked to Miami Beach, as your senses are lambasted with Latin percussion sounds, suave bartenders who look the part, and legions of sexy locals dancing the night away. Great and varied live music occurs nightly.

With an impressive menu of fruity island cocktails and low on attitude vibe, this is the dance club for people who hate dance clubs.

81 South 6th Street, (at Berry Street) 718.387.5389


Although only open for Friday happy hour and Saturday afternoons, this is still a prime location for unpretentious socializing and people watching with 300 of your best buds. Walk in and buy some tokens, redeem them for fresh malty goodness and sit at any of dozens of long wooden tables.

79 North 11th Street, 718.486.7422


Ale enthusiasts from all over the city make pilgrimages to this Belgian themed beauty. With dozens of obscure and fanciful bottle selections and decadent appetizers to go with them, this upscale tavern (named for a loogie-slinging Lucifer) takes the genre to new heights.

The bartenders are knowledgeable and usually very good, although some regulars grumble that they aren’t quite as attentive as they once were. Regardless, there is nothing else quite like it any closer than Brussels, and that’s a good thing.

Photo by bitchcakes

359 Metropolitan Ave. 718.963.4140


With a modern Iberian themed menu and an impressive selection of specialty cocktails like the Tequila Mockingbird and the Barton Pear, Nita Nita adds a touch of sophistication to a bar scene that could use it. The outside patio and cozy atmosphere make this an awesome first stop of the night or date destination.

146 Wythe Ave (At N. 8TH St.) 718.388.5328


This cheerful nook is frequented by many of the artists and writers that live in the vicinity. With wood everywhere and a relaxed atmosphere, this is the place for those long, pointlessly meaningful conversations with your best friends. Harefield also provides a multitude of beer choices (26 selections on tap), as well as plenty of wine by the glass and a wide range of single malts.

769 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.388.6870


The Metropolitan is Williamsburg’s reigning dean of gay bars but has a reputation for embracing and welcoming everyone and feels as much a neighborhood bar as anything else. Part of that is the friendly, laid back clientele and staff and part is the comfy booths and light, airy atmosphere over two sprawling floors of drinking fun littered with pool tables and video games. The summer months reveal the opening of a vine-covered backyard and Metropolitan’s famous Sunday afternoon free barbecue.

Radegast Beer Garden. Photo by wallyg

559 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.599.4444


This authentic Czech beer hall is ten blocks south of The Gutter but four thousand miles away in spirit. Radegast revels in the glory of lager and ale, not to mention bratwurst, kielbasa, and schnitzel. It’s the minor details that really make this joint, from the homemade sauerkraut to the waitresses wearing straight out of Bavaria dirndls while hoisting steins.

The old world feel is reinforced by the tap selection, which hail almost entirely from central Europe. The whole deal is complemented by a strong bottle list, fine wine, and a full bar. The reasonable prices and smiling staff make this one a winner across the board.

113 N 3rd Street, 718.963.3973


The Gutter is a gorgeous vintage bowling alley, dismantled in Minnesota, trekked cost country, and reassembled on a cool warehouse row in the heart of Williamsburg. Brought to you by the same geniuses in charge of Barcade, The Gutter is a classic hangout with a great beer selection of mostly local microbrews, retro but hip décor, and reasonable prices on pitchers and pints. Large cafeteria-sized tables and a friendly atmosphere make it easy to meet new friends as well as chill with your old ones. Perfect for extreme bowling.

200 North 14th Street, 718.387.3585

***Explore the world party scene with 101 PLACES TO GET F*CKED UP BEFORE YOU DIE. Part travel guide, part drunken social commentary, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die may have some of the most hilarious scenes and straight-up observations of youth culture of any book you’ve ever read.***

Nightlife Guides


About The Author

Matthew Parrott

Matthew is a castle enthusiast and onetime wrestling champion of a tiny herding village in inner Mongolia who is looking forward to the birth of his first son in June.

  • allison

    Hey Matthew,

    Great article! I live in Greenpoint and have been to most of these but it now looks like I’ll have to put Spuyten Duyvil at the top of my list.


  • New York Herald

    10 just isn’t enough of course, but if we had to add an 11th and 12th, we’d plug Rose Bar and Savalas.

  • Candice

    Just what I needed for my June trip! ;)

  • Ben

    The Beer Garden is quite possibly the worst bar in the nabe. Other than that, the list is good – needs more love for Bruar Falls + Zebulon

  • Gabriela Garcia

    Great list! I second Rose Bar as the 11th pick. And for people who like Barcade, I’d recommend Union Hall and Bushwick Country Club. And Music Hall of Williamsburg always has great shows. And Pete’s Candy Store has really fun spelling bees. Ahhh I could go on for days…

  • Matthew

    Thanks to everybody who read and commented on this. I started with a list about forty possibilites to give you an idea. Getting down to ten was really tough so obviously some great places (the Abbey, Mugs, Duff’s, Pete’s, Royal Oak, Pencil Factory) didn’t make the cut). Also, style plays into it. In case you didn’t notice, I gravitate towards dives and beer bars buts that’s how I know a place like Bembe is awesome because I usually can’t stand those places and I love it there.

  • MK

    Thanks for putting this together. I’m taking a first time in the US, hipster around Brooklyn tonight. Barcade + The Gutter are definitely on the list.

  • Walt Ribeiro

    That’s me in the picture to the left high fiving Leek geek! haha Cool!

  • Pingback: Photo Essay: Exploring Sewers, Utility Tunnels, and Catacombs Around the World

  • Bill Rigginski

    Seeing the pic of the two FRAT boys Hi Fiving will be why I dont go to Barcade …….Thanks for heads up !

  • Lucas

    Barcade was cool when I lived in Greenpoint. I loved Turkey’s Nest as well. Is Matchless still around in Greenpoint?

  • T.R.

    I’d love to read one article someday about Brooklyn where the Brooklynite author doesn’t obsess over hipness and hipsters, pro or con.

  • Gary Harding

    Ronnie Kind check this link out….

  • Chris Peterson

    is there some ass inside I love big booty bitchs yah.

Montana has big trout, big mountains, big skies and some very memorable bars. Don't...
You'd swear that this bar is an advertisement for 1950s tennis wear or an Alice in...
The coolest bars in the city are here, so step away from the tourist scene and head into...
Prostitution is illegal in Japan, which may be one of the reasons for so many creative...
From a schooner in the Caribbean to Iceland's Blue Lagoon.
The best places for a pint (or an organic cider as the case may be) in Brighton, England.
A guide for good drinking the next time you find yourself in Chi-town.
Bella Italiana? When all the culture gets to be too much, you can still find refuge in a...
Matador gives you a sleek list of options for all tastes in a city that doesn’t seem to...
The 5 best spots to enjoy some soul in the Italian capital.
It ain’t hipsterdom unless the music is loud, weird, and your shoes stick to the floor.
In a city that defines music, it can be hard to choose where to see a show. Here are some...