manhattan digest, surf bar


Enjoy sand between your toes when you’re dining? Even though the servers don’t typically recommend it, you can gorge on seafood with your shoes off and feet in the sand-covered floors at this festively decorated Brooklyn Surf Bar.

Located at 139 North 6th Street in Williamsburg, Surf Bar is arguably the best of its genre in this fair city. With a convenient perch just blocks from the Bedford L, its relativity high traffic results in mixed (but largely positive) reviews from customers. That being said, it’s probably best not to go to a bar filled with sand if you find getting it in your shoes “a major pain in the butt” (words of a Yelp review dated February 27, 2014).

I personally enjoy the super surf kitsch décor and checkered tablecloths that would make the ambience everything at this restaurant/bar if it weren’t for the surprisingly delicious food and drink options. Standard prices make items like the Grilled Mahi Mahi Burger seem even tastier.

However, the various fried fish options serve as the menu’s main draw. With additions like Wasabi Pea, Teriyaki, and Coconut Lime Sauce (always on the side), the fish options taste much better than you would imagine at a place that has Barbie and Ken dolls wearing wet suits and smoking a cigarette (or, more likely, joint) hanging off the beer taps. The only menu option I’ve learned to avoid is the Cali Shrimp Tacos. Though the grilled shrimp itself is perfectly cooked and well seasoned, the menu description promises a lot more than what these otherwise lettuce-filled tacos deliver.

The salad (I’d recommend the fresh Shrimp & Crab) and side options aren’t bad, either, and I have a friend who swears by the Fish Burrito. Yucca Fries are a must if you feel like embracing the beachy spirit. They come with a sort of marinara sauce that doesn’t seem like it would work well with the starchy finger food until you take them for a dip.

Alas, the real reason my friends and I keep going back centers on the cocktails. Nothing can beat large, frozen alcoholic beverages with umbrellas sticking out of the top (they also make great hair accessories after you leave the bar). If you’re looking for adventure, or to get blackout drunk, try the Zombie, packed with enough different types of alcohol that discerning them as you sip through a colorful straw reaches impossibility. Coconut lovers must go for the Frozen Pina Colada or Gorilla Milk, but the Frozen Mojito’s pleasantly surprised everyone I know who’s given it a try. Its vibrant, green color need not scare drinkers away.

In keeping with the laidback vibe, what friendly staff members lack in speed they make up for in good humor. Surely having to deal with a variety of Zombie-drunk patrons has forced them to relax when dealing with customers. The restaurant/bar also boasts an ample back area, so you can dig your feet in the sand outdoors. But for the obviously Williamsburg walk-ups sticking up around you, you’d hardly tell the difference between Surf Bar’s outdoor space and a beachside eatery.

If you enjoy surfer kitsch, sweet and strong drinks, seafood, and eateries with ambience, check out Surf Bar’s website. The music alone will put you right in the mood…or indicate that Surf Bar in Williamsburg is the last place where you want to eat.