You could have a perfectly nice time at one of the many excellent Williamsburg, Brooklyn bars, but to really kick up the fun factor, try a themed bar. Don’t worry, you won’t be sipping a whiskey with Mickey Mouse (this is Brooklyn). But how about being transported to the beach, arcade, carnival or a heavy metal museum? Stop by one of these quirky watering holes that helped make Williamsburg edgy.
Duff’s Brooklyn: A longtime NYC counterculture establishment, Duff’s is equal parts dive bar and heavy metal museum. Tucked away on a gritty block in South Williamsburg, sits this sub-basement level bar with dim red lighting and a decor composed of rocker and horror movie memorabilia—all to a surreal effect. (See photo above). 168 Marcy Ave., Brooklyn; Subway: J/M/Z to Marcy Ave. or East River Ferry to South Williamsburg; 718-599-2092; Website: duffsbrooklyn.com.
Surf Bar: Leave the chaos of the city behind as you duck into this beach bar complete with reggae tunes, a surfboard ceiling, and actual sand on the floor. Enjoy pina coladas and seafood snacks like clam chowder in the indoor tiki bar space, backyard patio, or sidewalk seats (great for people watching). 139 North 6th St., Brooklyn, L subway to Bedford Ave. or East River Ferry to North Williamsburg; 718-302-4441; Website: brooklynsurfbar.com.
Barcade: This friendly beer hall houses all the classic arcade games you enjoyed as a kid in the 80s (or are newly discovering as a retro thing). Prices per game are the same as they ever were, 25 cents. Refuel your Ms. Pac-Man or Street Fighter skills at the full bar that happens to stock a wide selection of local craft brews. See our full review here. 388 Union Ave., Brooklyn; L subway to Lorimer St.; Website: http://barcadebrooklyn.com
Snacky: A visit to this Asian themed den is like dropping in on a friend with an impressive collection of Japanese robot toys and kitschy Chinese statuettes. Sip on a sake cocktail while your hosts fry up small-plate comfort foods like Korean pork buns or sesame noodles. Try for a seat at the bar where you can watch the TV cued up with anime and Kurosawa films. 187 Grand St., Brooklyn; 718-486-4848; Subway: L to Bedford Ave.; Website: menupages.com/restaurants/snacky.
Full Circle Bar: To enjoy a rousing game of Skee-Ball, you could take the subway all the way out to Coney Island. Better yet, stop by Full Circle, a low-key Williamsburg bar where you can play while sipping a can of Bud and munching on a Coney Island Hot Dog. To watch local Skee-Ball pros in action, stop by for one of their Brewskee-Ball league nights (Mon-Wed, happy hours). 318 Grand St., Brooklyn; Subway: J/M/Z to Marcy Ave. or L to Lorimer St.; Website: fullcirclebar.com/brooklyn.