Even Williamsburg hipsters need a break from the daily faux-hawk and vintage-T-shirt parade on Bedford Avenue once in a while. Luckily, they don’t have to travel too far off the beaten path for some respite. As soon as you enter East River Bar, you’re reminded of why Billyburg was so appealing in the first place: Within its gigantic, warehouse-sized space, you could get a football (or more appropriately, kickball) game going if you wanted to. Its old, chipped brick walls and not-even-half-redone interior provide just enough grit, and with the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck” blasting through the jukebox, “yuptight” folks are sure to be scared away. Regulars pass knowing glances, from the guys shooting pool on the bar’s elevated level to the couples lounging in the many booths and couches below. Of course, this is all likely to change once those overpriced condos around the corner in the Gretsch Building are completed. But until then, suck down a refreshing pint of Blanche de Brooklyn ($4), or knock back a few Coronas ($4) on the River’s sprawling outdoor patio. The hodgepodge of furniture suggests a suburban yard sale about to happen, but it’s cozy and down-to-earth, and there are almost always a few seats available. Plus, the traffic from the Williamsburg Bridge sounds like waves breaking, if you use your imagination.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 6, 2004