There’s been much written about how Billy Durney’s Red Hook Tavern draws inspiration from New York institutions. The font used for the restaurant’s name could be mistaken for Minetta Tavern’s from afar, and there are two ales dedicated to McSorley’s. But once we secured a seat (if you manage to score a prime-time reservation, play the lottery), we quickly realized the experience here is its very own thing.After an affable employee leads you down the narrow dining room or to one of the 18 bar seats, your first priority is to order the Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger ($24). This pub-style burger is hefty but manageable. The simple dish—a dry-aged patty cloaked in American cheese and topped with raw white onions, then sandwiched between sesame rolls—is cooked to a perfect temperature. This juicy burger is one of the best we’ve tasted in the city.It’s no surprise that the burger and the menu’s other meat options are also expertly executed. Durney showed off his expertise with proteins at Hometown Bar-B-Que, a popular destination despite its location in difficult-to-get-to Red Hook, that’s known for its ribs, brisket, sausages, pastrami and other barbecue dishes with global touches.Executive chef Allison Plumer interprets the nostalgia that Red Hook Tavern strives for with an unfussy approach that results in plates you’ll want to devour on a cold winter day. The country-ham croquettes ($10), which are filled with white cheddar and sit atop a swath of dijonnaise, can be popped into
Appropriately for a waterfront neighborhood, Red Hook includes seafood restaurants like Brooklyn Crab and lobster-roll spot Red Hook Lobster Pound, as well as top Thai restaurant Pok Pok Ny. Food-truck culture is also well represented, with a number of Vendy Award winners setting up at the Red Hook Ball Fields.
RECOMMENDED: Red Hook neighborhood guide