Great walks: Indie nightlife

Indie bars and live-music venues thrive in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg


Suckers, playing at Cameo

Suckers, playing at Cameo


New York nightlife goes far beyond glitzy nightclubs and surly bouncers, especially in Brooklyn. Get to know the cool bars and indie live-music spots that are still flying under the radar in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

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Start: 597 Manhattan Ave between Driggs and Nassau Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
End: 351 Broadway between Rodney and Keap Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Distance: 1.2 miles

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  • Price band: 1/4

Folks in the neighborhood refer to the nameless bar at 597 Manhattan Ave (between Driggs and Nassau Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn) as everything from Weekend at Bernie’s and Malaria Bar to Woodpussy. Debate the moniker—or think up a new one—while you and your crew crack open $4 Tecates at one of the picnic tables in the spacious backyard (open weeknights until 11pm, weekends 1am). You may be there for a while, so when hunger pangs strike, head downstairs: The small but mighty kitchen churns out excellent oxtail or pork-belly ramen made with hand-pulled noodles ($12). If you’re in a more energetic mood, head down the street to sister spot Bar Matchless (557 Manhattan Ave between Driggs and Nassau Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-383-5333, facebook.com/barmatchless), which hosts numerous events throughout the week, including a weekly Heavy Metal Parking Lot karaoke session (Wed 10pm).

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  • Free

As you walk through McCarren Park along Bedford Avenue, you’ll find a simple yet bold black-and-white mural (168 North 8th St at Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; federicofrum.com) by Federico Frum. Big-name companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola have commissioned the painter, but this particular work—portraying the father of local burger-joint owner John Seymour—exudes a much grittier, less commercial feel.

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A pair of sisters  transformed their former pierogi shop into intimate lounge K&M (225 North 8th St at Roebling St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-3088). The retro seating and hanging lamps—remnants of the venue’s Polish-kitchen days—lend a homey feel to the space, which is filled with laid-back regulars. Take their lead and hit up the bar’s nightly happy hour (4–8pm), when you can snag $5 bourbons or get $1 off well drinks and draft beers.

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  • Price band: 1/4

Tucked discretely inside Lovin’ Cup Cafe, Cameo (93 North 6th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-1180, cameony.com) packs an industrial back room with indie-music obsessives searching for the next stars of CMJ. The sound may not be the best, but tickets are cheap ($5–$20) if not free, and you’ll be so close to the performers, the speaker quality won’t even matter. We’re particularly psyched for Xenia Rubinos’s angst-filled vocals (Fri 13) and Moon Boots’ electronic-disco-house instrumentals (Sat 14).

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Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

You’re well into your groove now: Pick up the pace at Good Co. (10 Hope St between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts; 718-218-7191, goodcobk.com), where programmers rally the local crowd with fun parties every weekend. You can find your mojo without getting groped at the Saturday dance party, which features two local DJ groups, the Gorges Boys (second and fourth Sat) and the Rude Dudes (first and third Sat). On Sunday nights, Good Co. hosts the Kings of Karaoke, an eight-member collective of sing-along enthusiasts who float around Brooklyn. The nightspot’s monthly summer BBQs have a bonus: $10 plates (provided by Mable’s Smokehouse on Wed 20 and Gwynnett St on Aug 15), as well as $3 pints of Brooklyn Brewery’s signature lager.

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Should you attempt this nightlife crawl midweek, cap off your evening at Partytime Excellent, the Wednesday bash at Trophy Bar (351 Broadway between Rodney and Keap Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 347-227-8515). Local spinner DJ Luiz amps up the caipirinha-swilling crowd with everything from Latin to funk from 9pm until the wee hours (usually 2am). If your weekly partying starts even sooner, take advantage of the bar’s Taco Tuesdays, when you can wash down a pair of tacos or chips and guac ($5 each) with $4 margaritas from 5–8pm.

  1. 351 Broadway, (between Keap and Rodney Sts)
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