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It’s South Miami meets north Brooklyn—night crawlers clamor at a glowing booze altar, while others graze on jackfruit crab cakes at banquettes canopied by palm fronds and banana leaves. Intermittently audible is the pulsing sound of a basement bacchanal—you easily forget it’s a brisk 40 degrees outside and this is a nondescript Williamsburg corner adjacent to a school playground. Even more head-scratching than the location is the unlikely mash-up of concepts from Battery Harris duo David Shapiro and Etan Fraiman—it’s part Latin-accented vegetarian restaurant, part cocktail parlor and part house-music haunt—fusing seemingly adverse conceits with devil-may-care swagger.
ORDER THIS: At the bar upstairs, nightlife vet Jeff Robbins (Kinfolk, Good Room) slings seasonal cocktails like a gin-fueled Beeez ($10), sweetening lemon juice with a splash of yuzu honey (hence the name), and also plays on classics, such as the Negroni-esque Me, Myself and I that layers nutty Diplomatico Anejo rum with sweet vermouth and bitter Campari ($12). Anchoring the rotating list are two evergreen champagne cocktails that include a fruity St-Germain–splashed Demi-Monde ($12).
GOOD FOR: A pre-party spread of veg-only fare packed with an umami punch and meaty textures. Chef Soozee Nguyen (Pickle Shack, Champs Diner) nails plant-based versions of Latin curios like habanero-spiced esquites ($8) and three-’shroom quesadillas slathered in truffle cashew crema ($12). Artfully built tacos ($4 each) are the stars of the food menu: One variety snugs grilled hearts of palm with watermelon radishes, while another takes cues from Korean bibimbap, built with a quail egg, micro arugula and nuggets of gojuchang popcorn tofu that call up the crunchy-chewy bite of fatty pork.
THE CLINCHER: While both bar and kitchen boast fresh-faced talent, it’s the pedigree behind the DJ booth downstairs—a vinyl-friendly setup with wooden analog Klipsch La Scala speakers— that lure regulars of Brooklyn’s electronic underground. Shapiro and Fraiman employ beat masters Eli Goldstein (Soul Clap), Philipp Jung (M.A.N.D.Y.) and Gadi Mizrahi (Wolf & Lamb) to reimagine a party house sans the bottle service, cover charge and, frankly, douchiness of its megaclub counterparts. Instead, the charming throwback space, with a disco ball anchoring a cork-tile ceiling and tunes bumped by seminal spinners Justin Strauss and Justin Miller (DFA Records), gives house neophytes and old-timers alike equal footing to drink up and get down.
168 Borinquen Pl
|Cross street:||between Keap and South 2nd Sts|
|Transport:||Subway: L to Lorimer St, G to Metropolitan Ave, J, M, Z to Marcy Av|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $11. AmEx, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Tue–Wed 5pm–2am, Thu–Sat 5pm–4am, Sun 5pm–midnight|
|Do you own this business?|