There’s something undeniably appealing about dining at a wine bar. If you want to share small plates and taste varietals from all around the world, New York City is teeming with excellent bars à vin. From tiny, dimly lit spaces to chic lounges, these are our favorite wine bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
It’s worth traveling to Williamsburg for a meal at this small, perpetually packed wine bar, tucked away on a quiet block on Grand Street. The interior is sleek and stylish but with a friendly neighborhood vibe that immediately makes you feel welcome. The wine list is made up of predominantly Old World natural wines, and the first pages highlight exciting new additions and last-call bottles to try before they run out. While the wine is exceptional, there’s a rotating menu of seasonal, shareable plates to match. The chicken liver mousse is light as air, and the raw yellowtail is marinated in a zesty, savory juice of citrus, yuzu and wasabi. We’re particularly fond of the $32 set weekend lunch, which is easily one of the best deals in town. The kitchen crafts a different tasting menu every weekend, but it usually features a spread of homemade focaccia, decadent pasta and farm-to-table vegetable sides.
The Four Horsemen
295 Grand St, Brooklyn. Tel. (718) 599-4900
Back in 2015, the popular tasting-menu-only establishment Contra opened a sister restaurant and wine bar down the block. Ever since, Wildair has drawn an onslaught of praise from restaurant critics, serious food enthusiasts and wine lovers alike. Inside, the space is industrial, with high-top tables, bright lighting and narrow counters that peer into the open kitchen. When you open Wildair’s natural-wine menu — which spans everything from Pinot Noir from Hungary to Vermentinu from Corsica — you might not recognize a single bottle. But the allure of this wine bar is that you’ll usually leave having tasted something new and unique that you would want to order again. To complement the wines, Wildair’s menu of small plates consists of dishes like scallop crudo with grapefruit, fluffy potato Darphin topped with velvety uni and the holy grail: wagyu steak that melts in your mouth as if it were a pat of butter.
142 Orchard Street. Tel. (646) 964-5624
Just a block from Tompkins Square Park, this tiny, Mediterranean-inspired wine bar on East Seventh Street is easy to overlook. But it’s worth seeking out and squeezing into. The wine list — interesting without feeling completely unfamiliar — heavily favors Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, with a handful of orange wines available by the glass and dozens by the bottle. You’ll find juicy whites from Portugal and rich varietals from Lebanon, lip-puckering Austrian Zweigelt and tannic Bobal from La Mancha. The food changes frequently, but on any given night you can expect bright and vegetable-focused dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby farmer’s markets. On recent visits, we’ve especially enjoyed the ruby-red tuna tartare, served with sashimi-thin radishes, and the tender roasted carrots accompanied by lemony whipped ricotta.
125 East Seventh Street. Tel. (212) 777-0855
Set on a stretch of Canal Street where the Lower East Side meets Chinatown, Cervo’s is a seafood restaurant and wine bar inspired by the flavors of Spain and Portugal. Between the cozy interior, tiled floors reminiscent of Porto’s ceramic azulejos and wood-paneled walls, it’s easy to entirely forget that you’re in New York City. The modest space is made up of a handful of small tables and a bar counter, where we prefer to enjoy our meals. The wine list touches on just about every corner of the Iberian Peninsula, with bottles hailing from the Canary Islands, Vinho Verde and Spanish Basque Country. Simple yet flavorful Manila clams with Vinho Verde and juicy Louisiana white prawns are highlights of the seafood-centric menu. As for the limited meat dishes, the dry-rubbed piri-piri roast chicken served with fries and tangy aioli is a standout plate you wouldn’t want to miss.
43 Canal Street. Tel. (212) 226-2545
Have & Meyer is unlike any other wine bar we’ve visited. While most bars à vin offer an extensive list of wines by the bottle with a few options by the glass, this natural-wine bar and Italian restaurant boasts more than 100 natural wines, all of which you can twirl, taste and sample by the glass. With its tin ceilings, marble wraparound bar and walls lined with bottles on display, Have & Meyer feels like a rustic Tuscan farmhouse. Most of the wine list is Italian, but you’ll find both well-known and niche varietals from just about every region, like Sicilian Munjebel and Teroldego from Trentino Alto Adige. The restaurant works closely with small-batch producers and growers to cultivate a thoughtful menu of sustainable and biodynamic blends. As for food, you’ll find a selection of cheeses, meats, vegetable antipasto and pastas. The truffle-and-cheddar gnocchi is the perfect match for a Tuscan red; for something more dinner-worthy, make sure to have the Barolo-braised Angus steak on your table.
Have & Meyer
103 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn. Tel. (718) 419-0722
You know you’re in for a great selection and a stellar experience when you walk into Aldo Sohm, a relaxed wine bar by the sommelier who runs the floor at Michelin three-star Le Bernardin. The atmosphere is laid-back and casual, as if you’re stepping into someone’s living room — only one that has access to a very impressive wine cellar. If you’re ordering by the bottle, you’ll find everything from a modest $60 Bordelaise vin de France to an extremely rare $3,900 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. On the food portion of the menu, the cheese and charcuterie are notably delicious. We particularly enjoyed the decadent burrata, which is served alongside bite-size pieces of buttery grilled toast. If you’re with a group, the charcuterie tower, which is brimming with artfully sliced cured meats like Basque saucisson and French jambon, is a must-order.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
151 West 51st Street. Tel. (212) 554-1143
Saint Julivert calls itself a “fisherie,” which vaguely translates to a snug wine-bar-meets-tapas-bar with a menu dominated by seafood and mineral-driven, coastal wines. This Cobble Hill newcomer comes from the team behind tapas bar trio El Quinto Pino, Txikito and La Vara, and while Saint Julivert isn’t strictly a Spanish restaurant, it is reminiscent of one. Expect small portions of artfully crafted plates, like paper-thin octopus carpaccio drizzled with citrus and marjoram, and raw scallops served taco-style in shiso leaves. For something more substantial, try the jerk hamachi collar and the prego sandwich, a bocadillo filled with beef tenderloin and spicy mustard. Wines are organized not by red and white, but by the seas, with Greek and Italian varietals listed under the Mediterranean, and the Portuguese and Uruguayan bottles listed under the Atlantic.
Saint Julivert Fisherie
264 Clinton Street, Brooklyn. Tel. (347) 987-3710
You’ll want to become a regular at this all-day café-meets-wine-bar on West Fourth Street. The décor is homey and inviting: Oriental rugs line the wooden floors, mismatched succulents dress the windowsills, leather chairs invite you to sink in, and kitschy décor sits atop a cheerful yellow bookshelf. For those who would rather not commit to a whole bottle, there are a handful of reds, whites, rosés and orange wines available by the glass or the carafe. The by-the-bottle list is more extensive, and while you’ll find a handful of bottles in the $200 range, the vast majority of selections — from a fresh and bright Italian Nebbiolo to a mineral-driven, zesty dry Vouvray — fall below the $100 mark. The French-inspired food is unpretentious yet perfectly executed, particularly the silky and buttery omelet topped with chopped chives and the steak tartare, marinated in cured egg yolk, tangy chimichurri and spicy aioli.
234 West Fourth Street. Tel. (212) 933-1824
Where SoHo meets Little Italy sits Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, a pioneer in New York’s en vogue natural-wine movement. Wine enthusiasts could easily spend hours contemplating the lengthy selections — with more than 40 dense pages, there’s certainly a lot to take in. It’s divided among sparkling, white, orange and red wines, then organized by country and region, touching on obscure DOCs most casual drinkers might never have heard of, like Bairrada, Portugal; McLaren Vale, Australia; and Somló, Hungary. For those looking to test their blind-tasting skills, there is a red and a white mystery wine available by the glass each night. Guess the correct bottle from the cellar and the remainder is yours, on the house. There’s also a constantly changing menu of small plates, like cast-iron miso-roasted sunchokes and decadent squid ink rice with crispy charred octopus.
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
249 Centre Street. Tel. (212) 343-3660
Bar Jamón is located kitty-corner to its Michelin-starred sister restaurant, Casa Mono, just off picturesque Irving Place. This walk-in-only spot feels as though it was plucked from the streets of El Born, in Barcelona, and placed in the Gramercy Park area. There are a few wood communal tables and about a dozen stools, where diners graze on Spanish cheeses, charcuterie and small plates. The wine list, about 30 pages long, touches on just about every DOC in Spain, from Galicia to Penedès, and offers something at every price range. The menu is more limited than that of Casa Mono next door, but it also offers some of the most authentic tapas we’ve had in the city. Among our favorites: charred octopus over chickpeas, and spicy chorizo with pickled peppers. Whatever you do, don’t skip the churros for dessert, which are served with thick hot chocolate for dipping.
125 East 17th Street. Tel. (212) 253-2773