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.
More spots in BrooklynSee more
Jupiter Disco is a little space-themed bar in Bushwick that isn’t as tacky as it sounds.
Sally Roots serves some good Caribbean/American food in a Bushwick space you’ll want to hang out in.
Ainslie Enoteca e Birreria
Ainslie is a huge bar and restaurant in Williamsburg where you should eat wood-fired pizzas while day drinking with a group.
More Italian spotsSee more
Felice 15 Gold Street
Felice is an Italian restaurant and wine bar that’s a better choice than most other casual weeknight spots in FiDi.
Pizza Moto is a solid Neapolitan-style neighborhood pizza place in Red Hook, and, if you live in the area, you should eat here often.
Feroce is an Italian spot inside the Moxy Hotel on the Nomad/Chelsea border that’s works for an upscale dinner near Penn Station.
Suggested by our writers
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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