If you can’t afford to buy a place there, you can get a drink at the Long Island Bar (110 Atlantic Avenue), a polished, retro place with a lot of outdoor seating. In the 1980s, co-owner Toby Cecchini started the craze for Cosmopolitans, and here he makes a cheeky frozen version of the drink. It’s not silly that it has a tangy, strong kick. The frozen pia colada is creamier, like soft-serve, and has three different kinds of rum in it. The food is also very good. For $15, you can get smoked trout in a jar with a lid made of trout roe. For $20, you can get a double-patty cheeseburger with pickles and battered fries.
From there, check out Atlantic Avenue, a commercial street with lots of interesting shops. For example, Salter House (119 Atlantic Avenue) sells coffee, tea, and carefully chosen home goods. Sahadi’s (187 Atlantic Avenue), which has been in the neighborhood since 1948, is a Middle Eastern food emporium.
Near the water, there are many places to eat, like the Italian-style Popina (127 Columbia Street). In its large backyard, you can relax with a mezcal negroni (which costs $15) and hot chicken Milanese (which costs $27). Before you get back on the ferry at Pier 6, try to get a seat at the bar on the wooden schooner Pilot, which is docked on the north side of the pier and has been carefully fixed up. You might see a beautiful sunset while sipping a drink and eating a half-dozen expertly shucked oysters for $19 to $24, extending your trip until the last boat leaves at 9:30 p.m. on weekends.
If it wasn’t so hard to get to Red Hook by subway, there might be a rush of people wanting to experience its small-town charm. NYC Ferry seems to be a good solution because it lets people visit these small businesses in Brooklyn and then go back to where they came from (9:21 p.m. is currently the last ferry out on weekends).
Pioneer Works, a modern arts center, is just a few blocks from the landing. While its main building is being fixed up, it is located at 135 Imlay Street. Sunny’s Bar (253 Conover Street) is a popular roadhouse with live music, and Strong Rope Brewery is a huge tap room with outdoor tables that have views of the Statue of Liberty. Both are near the water. Both places don’t have food, so get a thin-crust pizza with fresh, creative ingredients from the nearby Hoek for $18 to $21. (117 Ferris Street).