Summer’s here and let’s face it, you’ve got about an hour of walking around before you need to unwind in an air-conditioned restaurant. Cool down and eat up at these fun local spots. By Beth Kaiserman / Pics by Beth Kaiserman
285 Nevins Street
The actual Freek’s Mill was located on the corner of Union Street and Nevins Street in 1784. The 2016 menu aims to highlight the area’s industrial past – when everyone knew where their food was made. Fresh, seasonal and local all shined through on my visit, from crunchy julienned snap peas, candied almonds and mint with stracciatella cheese on my plate to the purveyor delivering a small container of scallops for Chef Chad Shaner. “You know what these are,” he assured Shaner. The chef, formerly of Union Square Cafe, BLT Prime and Le Zie, recommends 2-3 plates per person, and the dishes rotate often. Watch the magic happen in a beautiful, airy open kitchen in the back.
333 Douglass Street
If you can manage to tear yourself away from Freek’s Mill, one of my favorite places to unwind during any season is Threes Brewing. The beer menu is super solid, with mostly housemade brews and a handful of other carefully curated picks. There’s always a new beer to try, but you can’t go wrong with any of their refreshing saisons. Though it gets busy, there’s plenty of room both inside and in their spacious backyard. It’s an easy place to waste some time and catch up with pals. There’s a pop-up eatery that changes every few months, and the current one is Tortilleria Nixtamal from Corona, Queens, running through July 10.
708 Washington Avenue
Over in Prospect Heights, we’re lucky enough to have another great taco spot that hails from the South Bronx. Chef Lina Chavez and her crew have been trying new dishes to suit Prospect Heights, while sticking mostly to the original menu from the Mott Haven days, partner Noah Arenstein said. They serve up daily specials, weekend brunch and will soon have a full liquor license, he said. Arenstein recommends the chicken tinga and chorizo tacos and mole poblano. On my visit, the barbacoa was so soft and tender it was like it didn’t even happen. Don’t forget the nachos and flautas de queso when you need a summertime snack.
683 5th Avenue
In one of my favorite neighborhoods for hanging out lies—you guessed it—the perfect place to hang out. Iron Station opened last June in South Slope and started out serving southern plates. They instead became more revered for their cocktail list, and a recent menu revamp has them creating dishes to pair with their libations, which utilize small liquor brands. The friendly atmosphere and jolly owners encourage chatting among guests. “I hate cliquey bars where you’re the outsider,” owner Alex Haskell said. Their large backyard is great for fresh summer mingling.