Like a young thespian at performing arts camp, Red Hook becomes the best version of itself between June and September. It has incredible views of the water, bike paths galore, and more summertime food (seafood, BBQ, and frozen dessert) per capita than most neighborhoods. Whether you live in the South Brooklyn area or you take the Red Hook/Atlantic Basin ferry line, spending an afternoon eating in Red Hook will likely make you realize that expensive day trips are overrated. Here’s where to eat outside when you’re there.
While in Red Hook, you are legally obligated to eat a frozen, chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick from Steve’s. We don’t make the rules. Their industrial space on the water has a bunch of picnic tables, and you can always take your pie-sicles to Louis Valentino Jr. Park right next to Steve’s - it has a glorious view of the water and the State Of Liberty.
This woman-owned Jamaican spot has a few tables set up on Columbia Street where you can eat things like rasta pasta with jerk chicken outside. Call 939-398-0074 to place your pick-up order ahead of time or go to their website for delivery.
You can’t talk about Red Hook without mentioning Hometown BBQ - but don’t scroll past just because you already know about it. Hometown isn’t currently accepting any food orders at their restaurant, so you have to place your order online ahead of time. If you just want to walk by and pick up a beer or a cocktail, they have a cash-only takeout window. But for food, you have to plan ahead. It’s possible the wait time may be 150 minutes (you can check at the top of the page here), so plan ahead. They have a bunch of nice picnic tables for you to eat at once you get your food.
Brooklyn Crab is right next to Hometown BBQ. So, on the weekends, this area feels like a socially-distanced summer block party. This seafood spot is known for (resist the urge to scream) crab, specifically in the form of crab rolls and steampots. Each of Brooklyn Crab’s outdoor tables have a little flag that you can use to indicate to your server that you’re ready to order. The restaurant is asking that you put on your masks while interacting with their staff.
Over the last few months, Fort Defiance has transitioned into a grocery and general store, selling pantry goods, produce, rotisserie chicken, and booze. You can stop by their ordering window for cocktails and prepared snacks from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 7pm, or place your pick-up order ahead of time on their website here.
Red Hook Tavern has a handful of tables set up around the corner from their spot on Van Brunt Street. The important thing to order here is the burger, which you can think of as a distant cousin of the one at Peter Luger. It’s a minimalist sandwich with one thick patty, some salty melted cheese, and a bunch of semi-sweet onions resting on top like they’ve had a long day. Red Hook Tavern is also selling nice bottles of wine, merch, and other specialty goods inside their restaurant.
You’re by the water, you’re very sweaty, and you may or may not have just mounted a Citi Bike. It’s time for lobster. Red Hook Lobster Pound is the best option around, and they have a bunch of sidewalk tables available on a first come, first serve basis. You can also stop by and get something to go, in case you’d rather eat on a bench on the waterfront.
It’s possible you’ll want mint stracciatella gelato in the shade at least twice this summer. If you’re in Red Hook when this feeling hits, know that Dolce Brooklyn has a few tables set up on their sidewalk. This is also a good spot to order some iced coffee and take a break from the sun so you don’t say something you don’t mean to the person you’re with.
Both the patio and the sidewalk area at this classic neighborhood spot are open for outdoor dining. Brooklyn Ice House serves a combination of bar food like onion rings and frito pie, as well as BBQ specials like dry-rub spare ribs with mac and cheese. Their patio is pretty spacious, and it’s nice and hidden from any Citi Bikers parading down Van Brunt Street on a weekend afternoon.
If you’re in the mood for pizza under the stars, we want to pause and say, gee that sounds like a really nice mood. Also, we’re here to tell you that you can stop by Hoek for some wood-fired pizza at one of their nicely-spaced-out patio tables. They’re open on Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm to 9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9pm.
Whether it be takeout, delivery, or outdoor dining, the Red Hook location of Somtum Der is where you should be eating Thai food in the area. If you want some extra motivation to eat here, be aware that they have a beautiful back patio that’s currently open for outdoor dining on Van Brunt Street. You can book a reservation online ahead of time to guarantee yourself some papaya salad with salted egg, pork larb, and sticky rice.
Italian combo sandwiches taste fundamentally better when you eat them outside. In case this sentence makes you scratch your head in disbelief, stop by Court Street Grocers Red Hook location on Sullivan Street where you can do your own scientific research. If the wooden picnic table in front of the sandwich shop is taken, you could always walk down to the park at Pier 44.