From sprawling beer gardens to hole-in-the-wall Korean pubs, the borough has plenty to satisfy curious boozehounds.
Mon Jul 26 2010
The craft-beer revolution has yet to conquer Queens to the extent that it has Manhattan and Brooklyn, but brick-walled tavern Sunswick 35/35 is at the forefront of the borough's burgeoning brew scene. The name refers to a creek that used to run from the East River to the area that is now Astoria; today, a rotating selection of suds from top-notch international and domestic breweries ($5--$9) rush through 25 taps to reach your glass. Snag shot-size samples from bartenders before committing, then settle in for a session at one of the barroom's high-top tables. If your stomach's grumbling for something solid, a menu of pub standards should do the trick. 35-02 35th St at 35th Ave, Astoria (718-752-0620, sunswick3535bar.com). Subway: N, Q to 36th Ave.
Can't find this in Manhattan: Studio Square
Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden may be responsible for bringing as many people to Queens as the Mets have, but it's got serious competition now that "S2" has made its mark. With room for more than 1,500 people, the sprawling complex offers something for everyone: Fratty dudes slosh liter steins of beer ($13) while watching sports on a huge alfresco screen, groups of friends play cards at picnic tables, and singles prowl the packed garden as if they're at an impromptu speed-dating event. Welcome upgrades to the standard beer-garden formula include a wider selection of suds (American craft brews as well as German standards) and sangria on tap. 35-33 36th St between 35th and 36th Aves, Long Island City (718-383-1001, studiosquarenyc.com). Subway: M to 36th St; N, Q to 36th Ave.
Fried pickles and craft beer
For those who prefer something a bit more intimate than a gigantic biergarten, Sweet Afton awaits with a comfy barstool and a mug of cask ale. The homey gastropub—outfitted with reclaimed wood and industrial metal beams—will make you feel like you're in the West Village or Williamsburg, but the unpretentious service and manageable crowd reflect its Astoria address. Throwback cocktails ($8--$9) and craft beers anchor the boozing, while the locavore-friendly pub grub includes beer-battered McClure's pickles ($5). 30-09 34th St at 30th Ave, Astoria (718-777-2570, sweetaftonbar.com). Subway: N, Q to 30th Ave.
Hang with the Irish
With an Irish bar everywhere you look in Sunnyside, it's little wonder the 'hood is inundated with green-Guinness--guzzling masses each St. Patrick's Day. But you don't have to wait until March to suss out some good craic at Gaslight, where gregarious Irish expats hoist well-poured pints of the black stuff—as well as a basic house beer called Gaslight Lager ($4)—late into the evening (when asked how often he visits the watering hole, one regular answered simply, "Every time I drink"). If you need a break from the revelry inside, head to the leafy and tranquil red-brick garden in the back—a diverse crowd gathers to chat over three-for-$10 domestic bottles (Monday--Friday until 9pm) and while away the balmy summer nights. 43-17 Queens Blvd between 43rd and 44th Sts, Sunnyside (718-729-9900). Subway: 7 to 46th St.
Latin cover bands
Even after 11 years of rocking and a move from its original location in Astoria, Latin-music caf La Kueva 2.0 has remained a true original. Rock & roll is its raison d'tre: Guitars, record jackets and photos of pop stars cover the walls, and the predominantly Hispanic crowd fits right in, wearing sleeveless button-ups and band tees. When cover bands take the stage ($10 entry, free before 11pm), you can feel the wooden floors tremble as the crowd jumps up and down while belting out the words to Spanish-rock hits by groups like Mana. Don't worry if you can't understand the lyrics—just grab a Corona ($6) and let the infectious fun take over. 39-31 Queens Blvd between 39th Pl and 40th Sts, Sunnyside (718-786-8490, lakueva.com). Subway: 7 to 40th St.
Relax at a Korean dive
The area around the Murray Hill, Queens, LIRR stop is like Little Seoul, with plenty of establishments taking cues from the Korean city's po jang ma cha—essentially, makeshift eateries or street-food vendors where convivial drinking is as much a part of the experience as the food. At Han Shin Pocha, the divey vibe—dark walls and dinky plastic stools—appeals to the young crowd cooking seafood and meats on oil-drum tables that double as grills. Glug large bottles of OB ($6.99) and a variety of soju (a rice-based spirit, from $14.99), or sample sweet Korean wines (from $10.99) in flavors like plum and pomegranate. For a snack with your beer, you can't go wrong with the gul ae man doo ($10.99)—flattened, panfried dumplings with crackling edges and a savory filling of pork, chives and cellophane noodles. 40-03 149th Pl between Roosevelt and 41st Aves, Flushing (718-886-1328). Subway: 7 to Flushing--Main St; LIRR to Murray Hill.
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