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Ten (Almost) Hipster-Free Joints in Williamsburg
by Cindy Price

If you're careful about it, self-loathing has its merits. When Groucho Marx grumbled, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member," he may have unwittingly cracked the code to hipster living. How else to explain the near militant upheaval of location after location by the vigilant New York youth? After all, there's nothing quite so debilitating to a hep cat than walking into a bar crawling with one's own. Like it or not, the neighborhood is deeply infested-and, while it wearies me to say as much, evolution is key to proper hipster loafing. So if you're too lazy to move or (let's face it) even get on the L train most days, but you're dying to get away from the scene for an hour or two, the following places offer an oasis of hipster-free living. Most of them are familiar enough stomping grounds, but somehow they've avoided a complete invasion. Albeit, this article may be their undoing-how long will it take for the following hallways to glisten brightly wall-to-wall with pomade? Dunno, my friend. As any hipster worth their salt would tell you-that's not my problem.


Caffé Capri
427 Graham Avenue
(between Graham Ave. and Withers St.)

This long-standing barista boasts the neighborhood's finest iced coffee (even at $4 a pop it's a steal) as well as a cannoli that would make an Italian mama blush. The interior, dripping with seasonal Easter bunny cut-outs or fruit-striped candy canes, is warm and inviting and the counter is always loaded with fresh baked sweets wrapped in cellophane. You might catch the occasional shag hanging about, but there are only four tables to lounge around in and the extended family takes up two of them. Plus, owner's Joe and Sarah nixed their smoking section last year, cutting its hipster lingering down by almost 50%. Don't worry about losing out on all the fun by asking for it to go-Joe weaves a great two-minute story chock full of neighborhood lore.

R Bar
451 Meeker Avenue
(corner of Graham Avenue)

Hurry, this one can't last long. This recently renovated dive is three minutes away from pulling the rug out from Daddy's, where tired locals can't find a seat to save their life come weekends. Besides having two of the neighborhood's most convivial owners on hand to whip out embarrassing family photo albums when the notion strikes, the place touts the only Big Buck Hunter video game in the neighborhood. Thursday night draws the beefy, Italian locals armed with teddy bear smiles and crackling quips aimed at Michael, their beloved bartender who has the serendipity of being blond, hip and gay. Be nice and they might send you over a "coasta" (coaster)-that's old-school lingo for a drink on the house.


Rainbow

177 Calyer Street
(corner of Manhattan Avenue)

It's 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your slutty tops are? Indeed, many a Greenpoint girl has ducked into this ghetto-fabulous store last minute for a ten-dollar tube top or vinyl stiletto. Dig, you must-there's a lot of cheesy J-Lo knock-offs here-but a sharp eye can find a gem here in less than ten minutes. Better yet, there's not a chance in hell you'll see anyone on Bedford with the same gear. Sure, it'll fall apart after three washings but by then it's sure to be completely out of fashion.

the bar at Bamonte's
32 Withers Street
(between Lorimer and Union)

This polished, elegant bar reigns supreme for an intimate drink with your local sweetheart. When the funds are low, skip the food (although it's delicious, I'll warn you) and kill time at the bar soaking up the ambience and sipping a well-turned Manhattan. If you drink enough and squint your eyes a bit, you can pretend you're about to shake on a deal with any number of local Tony Soprano look-alikes. You could even kick it super old school and (gasp) pick up the tab for your date.

The Community Board Meeting
The Swinging Sixties Senior Center

211 Ainslie Street
(corner of Manhattan Avenue)

Grab a bag of popcorn and mosey down to the Williamsburg Community Board Meeting, where silver-haired locals meet on the first Tuesday of every month to hash out local issues such as garbage control, liquor licenses and power plants. If you get bored of listening to spitfire citizens browbeat community leaders; you can heckle the only near-hipster in the room-our neighborhood rep just happens to be a fresh-faced Brown grad making good on his resume. Watch your step on the touchy issues, though-one knows no wrath like the bingo-playing set.


Raymund's
124 Bedford Ave (at North 10th)

Dubbed the "Polish Hooters" by one twisted local, this Polish eatery is decidedly hipster-free despite its prime location on Bedford Avenue. True to its nickname, the waitresses (sporting snug sweaters and black pants) are some of the best looking blondes this side of Manhattan Anenue, and the schnitzel ain't half bad either. Better yet-indulging in the delicious soups (less than $3 a bowl) will still leave you under the ten-dollar mark on your tab. The perfect place to wash down a cold Zywiec with your buddy after "getting nowhere" with that Sarah Lawrence chick.

La Graziella Beauty Salon
434 Graham Avenue
(corner of Frost Street)

My good buddy Ralph swears by this locals-only hair salon for a simple, slightly-mussed chop ten bucks. Once a month, he happily sits in his swivel barber chair under the skillful hands of Anthony (the shop's only male stylist) and eavesdrops on the blue-hairs' uncensored sing-song of local gossip. His theory is no cut is a bad cut in a neighborhood devoted to the undone, and I'd have to agree. Not that any of this compares to dropping fifty bucks at Mousey Brown to ensure your hair looks like you lopped it off with a switchblade.

Metropolitan Pool
261 Bedford Avenue
(corner of Metropolitan Avenue)

Ah, to be young, pale and emaciated. That's why you won't see a respectable hipster within five miles of this joint lest they add one inch of muscle to those hard earned size-30 waistbands. But for $75 a year, one can indulge in an extra-large lap pool and a bare bones weight room, stuffed with local Polish gals working off last night's pierogies (and dare I say, potato vodka) on the treadmill. For an extra thrill, hit the women-only swim from 10 to Noon (M-W-F) where they cloak the windows for the Hasidic set.

Daniella's Coffee Shop
336 Graham Avenue
(Between Metropolitan and Devoe)

This hole-in-the-wall diner opposite hipster-haven Phoebe's won't woo you with any culinary magic but the pure dive ambience might. For $1.95, one can sidle up to the stool-lined counter for a fat serving of fried eggs, potatoes and unlimited joe. And don't even get me started on the waitresses-Terry waxes philosophical, even at 7 a.m, on every subject under the sun. Don't mind the old geezers in Yankees hats giving you the eye as you linger over your paper; you're likely to be the only chicken on the block under sixty most mornings.

The Pourhouse
790 Metropolitan Avenue
(corner of Humboldt Street)


God knows how they've done it, but this neighborhood bar has managed to stay nearly hipster-free despite it's obvious call to service. Blame it on the determined locals who belly up to a kick-ass Happy Hour (4-9 pm) almost every night of the week, or the family atmosphere invoked by owners Lori and Maria-either way, these digs remain delightfully overrun by a fantastic cast of Brooklyn's finest. You'll feel at home in minutes, but watch the attitude. There's rarely a dour face in the place, so check ye' stylish misanthropy at the door.

-Cindy Price




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mail@freewilliamsburg.com | April 2003 | Issue 37
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