Raise a glass to the Founding Father–of Astoria–and his namesake tavern.
Astorians know and love Brick Café, “an Astoria staple, opening over 15 years ago right on the corner of 31st Ave. and 33rd St.” (www.brickcafe.com). They may not know, however, about Brick’s owners’ newest venture–Halsey’s Tavern, located right next door.
Named for the “Father of Astoria” Stephen Halsey, Halsey’s Tavern stands just past Brick Café on 33rd St. Halsey, a success in the 19th-century fur trade, purchased a great deal of land along the East River and soon dubbed the region Astoria, after his renowned mentor John Jacob Astor. Perhaps the Tavern’s owners, in turn, gleaned some inspiration from Halsey’s entrepreneurship, and embarked on a business venture with aspirations high.
It seems that said aspirations will undoubtedly be met. A cozy environment of painted brick and dark woods, Halsey’s offers “laid-back drinks for laid-back folks” (www.halseystavern.com), but it’s clear that its founders took no carefree approach to its aesthetic. From the backsplash of the Queensboro Bridge on its rear wall, to its deliciously elevated pub food offerings, to the wit in its cocktail descriptions (For a Negroni: “gin plus Campari plus sweet vermouth equals yumminess…and possibly more dates on tinder”), Haley’s welcomes patrons with attention to detail and local charm.
Speaking of local, the Tavern boasts an impressive menu of local craft beer, including Astoria’s own SingleCut, Brooklyn’s Sixpoint, Great South Bay, and Bronx Pale Ale. They also recently featured a Coney Island Brewery Tap Takeover, during which customers could enjoy their little piece of the park for only $5.00.
Halsey’s Tavern, though brand-spanking new, feels like that fun, comforting, lifelong friend in your life—the one who spots you a drink when you’re down (all day 2-for1-drink specials reign Sundays-Wednesdays), is always good for a laugh (Trivia every Thursday at 8pm!), and also happens to be a really amazing cook…
Halsey’s shares its kitchen with Brick Cafe, so it’s no wonder the starters, burgers/sandwiches, and entrees taste just as good as their descriptions infer. Mom’s grilled cheese just might be trumped by Halsey’s “cheddar, mozzarella, [and] goat cheese” option, especially with a side-upgrade to the house Fancy Fries (truffle oil, parsley, fresh parmesan). In the mood for something lighter? Try the Arugula Salad with “salt and sugar pistachios”, or the Organic Beet Salad. Pub favorites such as hot wings, a signature burger, and sliders also hold a strong ground. In return for this fabulous fare, Halsey’s completes the symbiosis by providing Brick customers with a full bar.
Assimilating into a new neighborhood is always easier with the help of a friend, and Halsey’s Tavern certainly has a strong shoulder to lean on in Brick Cafe. But from its rotating craft beer selection, to its repurposed growler light fixtures, to its relatable, inviting, and enthusiastic staff, Halsey’s has an aura all its own. It’s fresh and jocular, yet familiar. Stephen Halsey took a chance on Astoria, so for slightly less risk, take a chance on Halsey’s Tavern.
Guest blog by Maggie Gallagher