This summer there’s no need to tend to the coals on your cramped fire escape. Instead, feel the breeze with a cold beer in hand at a few bars that know a thing or two about cooking out.
‘Big Apple Barbecue Block Party’
Madison Square Park, 23rd to 26th streets between Madison and Park avenues, bigapplebbq.org
Summer in Manhattan is always sticky, but June 10–11 in Madison Square Park it will get downright saucy. The Fourth Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will bring 12 pitmasters from Texas, Alabama, and other Southern states to slather up and grill pork products for $7 a plate. The free pig-in-the-park event also has $4 beers and free entertainment. A prepaid Bubba Fast Pass can be purchased to reduce the time between plates.
The Blue Donkey Bar
487–89 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-496-0777
With $3 Stella drafts and a $6 Blue Donkey cocktail, it might be easy to follow this bar’s motto, “Act like an ass!” But there’s no need to be an Equus asinus on the Blue Donkey Bar’s lovely outdoor patio. The bar shares its space with Homer’s World Famous, a malt and doughnut shop, from where you can order up six mini-burgers for $4.75 or a dozen pigs in a blanket for $5.75.
Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, 718-721-4226
A trip here can be a summertime dream come true: $12 pitchers of Pilsner Urquell, $8 hearty sausages cooked on an outdoor grill, and great conversation under a canopy of leafy trees. This Czech beer garden is a must-do for every New Yorker at least once a summer.
615 Ninth Avenue, 212-315-4410
Ladies and gentlemen of all drinking ages, welcome to the four-ring Circus of booze and free hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts. This newbie shows the love with $3 domestics, $4 imports, $7 to $15 pitchers, and drink specials like $4 rum-and-Cokes. For those frightened by the crying-clown paintings, the back patio has plenty of seating.
323 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718-246-1321
With its diver-down flags, picnic tables, and nautical-themed menu board, this outdoor beer-and-burger joint is as comfortable and summery as a well-worn Top-Sider. GYC keeps the grill hot with $2.50 Black Angus dogs, $3.50 veggies dogs, and sausages and burgers costing from $3.75 to $6. They’ll even toss you a $4 salad to go with the $17 pitcher of Jever, $2 PBRs, or a $4 Sierra Nevada. Cash is the only seaworthy payment.
46 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-625-8003
Hank’s is about boot stompin’, cheap-beer drinkin’, free-sausage grillin’, and country croonin’. The charcoal is hot nearly every day of the week, including the second and fourth Mondays for Live Band Kuntry Karaoke, where all rednecks at the mic get a free shot of Jack. There’s also $2 Schaefer on tap and the $5 Pabst-Smir: a can of PBR with a shot of Smirnoff.
4254 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, 718-984-1202
What Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn lacks in easy accessibility it more than makes up for with its beer garden. The regulars know drinking is a serious undertaking to be done while a live oompah band plays “The Chicken Dance.” The garden’s outdoor bar has an über-long beer list with such delights as a $6.50 smokebeer. Kielbasa sizzles on the outdoor grill, or you can order from a menu of German staples.
113 North 7th Street, Brooklyn, 718-486-6791
A clambake could be in the cards for those who venture to Laila Lounge on Sundays in June or so we hear. In the meantime, the lounge’s back patio has DJs, $4 Bloody Marys, and free meat and veggie dogs every Sunday afternoon. When master griller and bartendar Dave is at the helm, he takes it up a notch with steaks, lamb chops, and grilled greenies.
59-02 Norman Street, Ridgewood, Queens
The multiple TVs, classic-rock jukebox, $3 domestics . . . Last Call is a no-frills dive. But not many bars have a bartender who could double as a hostage negotiator. A few years back Tommy “the Turtle” Damato stepped out from the behind the bar to help the cops talk down a regular who shot at his landlady. The drinkers here are slow to warm up to strangers, but once you’ve bellied up to the bar a few times, consider the sidewalk grill your own personal George Foreman.
Louie & Ernie’s Pizza
1300 Crosby Avenue, Bronx, 718-829-6230
The quest for a Bronx bar with a backyard garden and great food came down to Louie & Ernie’s Pizza. This beer-and-pizza joint is serious about its pizza. They don’t have no stinkin’ hot dogs, no garlic knots—just pizza. Take your $3 slice of white pizza or a $15.50 clam pie out to the garden, raise your $7.50 carafe of house red, and make a toast to perfect summertime simplicity.
559 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-4444
The leafy trellis keeps Metropolitan’s backyard cool even on days when the Sunday BBQ party is smokin’-hot with gay boys and girls and their straight friends. Free food for carnivores and vegetarians is grilled and served with sides. The Sunday special of $7 pitchers and $2 pints of Bud/Bud Lite causes even the most haughty beer snobs to throw caution to the wind.
317 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, 718-422-0563, brooklynmoonshine.com
Moonshine regulars say it’s only a short hike from the F/G train, but after a few James Gangs—a shot of Jameson with a PBR—your quick trek from this diamond in the rough becomes a slow stumble through Red Hook. If you forget to bring your own meat for the two grills—including a divine charcoal smoker in the sunken courtyard—satiate yourself with one of the 25 different kinds of $1.50-to-$2 canned beers and two-for-$2 nuked White Castle sliders.
Red Rock West Saloon
457 West 17th Street, 212-366-5359
There are hot and sweet sausages on the grill and hot and sweet girls dancing on the bar at the Red Rock West Saloon. Every Sunday, grillmaster “Sausage Bob” treats the working-class fans of Red Rock to a feast of free sausages and burgers, and downed by $4 Buds. Customers of this biker bar spills onto the streets to ogle the Harley Fat Boys and Softails that rumble past as their riders check out the pieces of tail serving up sausage.
Rock Star Bar and Pies & Thighs
349 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-599-1936
The gritty, cavernous Rock Star Bar now has a Southern kissin’ cousin. Grab a $4 Blue Moon and walk to the back of Rock Star to meet Pies & Thighs. The kitchen-counter spot leads to a backyard BBQ with an area containing quaint, checkered tablecloths. Order the homemade fried chicken, collard greens, and a biscuit for $8. Or bring your $3.50 slice of homemade key lime pie back to the bar for a fantastic punk ‘n’ pie experience.
Water Taxi Beach
2-03 Borden Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, 212-742-1969
When beach babies need their fix, a five-minute boat trip from East 34th Street to the Water Taxi Beach in Queens can satisfy their sandy cravings. Made from more than 400 tons of Jersey sand, this 20,000-square-foot oasis has picnic tables, volleyball nets, occasional live entertainment, and shaded areas for additional SPF. Beach bums can bring chairs and towels, but food and bevvies must be purchased at Harry’s Bar & Grill at the beach. Along with the usual $2 hot dogs, the grill has two-for-$8 fish tacos and $8 elk burgers. Beers start at $2, and an all-natural tropical-drink bar will let you get your vitamin C while the sun takes care of your vitamin D.