It’s not easy to stand out on Vanderbilt Avenue just north of Prospect Park - a stretch that includes places like Olmsted, Maison Yaki, Faun, and Chuko - but LaLou does, thanks to one of the best natural wine programs in the city. The wine list at this narrow, white-walled spot includes some Eastern European varietals your wine store clerk has probably never heard of, as well as plenty of familiar options from famous regions in France and Italy. Whether you’re looking for Grand Cru Champagne, or you have a higher tolerance for barnyard aromas than Babe the pig, the very friendly staff will help you find something you’ll like. There’s also a straightforward food menu, and while the cheese plate and peppery saucisson are enjoyable snacks, there’s no need to go out of your way for the entrees, like a small portion of steak for $32, or roast chicken served in what tastes like caper juice. Instead, get drinks in the backyard or at the long bar with a date, and if you like each other (or the wine temporarily makes it seem that way), head to one of the many great spots up the street for dinner.
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Wine bars don’t have to be pretentious, scary places. Here are 28 of the best ones in the city.
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Thai Farm Kitchen
Go out of your way to eat the tom yum soup and pad thai at Thai Farm Kitchen between Kensington and Windsor Terrace.
Bar Lunatico is one of the best bars to hang out in Bed-Stuy, especially if you’re looking for live music.
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A little Italian cafe and sandwich shop on the Upper East Side near Central Park. We love the sandwiches, but hate how much they cost.
Noodle Pudding is a cash-only Italian restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge. The pastas are always reliable, and the vibe is Perfect For Sunday Dinner.
Beebe’s is a restaurant in the bottom of The Boro Hotel in LIC, and it’s a perfect for when you’re in the area and need something easy.
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A Prospect Heights restaurant serving some of the most inventive, delicious food in New York City.
The Ten Bells
The Ten Bells is a natural wine bar on the Lower East Side that serves some good small plates and $1 Happy Hour oysters every day.
Miss Ada is a small, comfortable spot in Fort Greene with great Israeli food and an outdoor garden in the back.
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