There is no question about it, the gentrification is well underway in Bushwick. A place billing itself as a “cafe/wine bar” just opened up a stone’s throw from my front door. It features overpriced food on a menu full of the tell-tale signs of pretention: ten-dollar cooking adjectives (“shaved”, “braised”, “wood-oven roasted”), fancy misdirection (“golden spanish paprika” = yellow bell pepper), and lots of Italian and French words, all of which attempt to justify the chunk they take out of your wallet.
Two80 is a bar that beautifully counters the places like this popping up in Bushwick. Normally, I like my bars like I like my film noir characters: disreputable, rough as hell around the edges and sporting a black eye, but this clean, new, upstanding citizen of a cafe and lounge is probably the best new bar Bushwick will see for many years to come. The main reason for this is Ali, the owner/cook/sometime-bartender/janitor/resident raconteur who can be found at his bar every second it’s open. Ali has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years, and makes you feel like you’re at home in Two80 even if you’re visiting from Idaho. If you’re so inclined, he will provide anecdotes and observations nearly until the sun comes up (standard 4am closing time still applies). Also, Ali himself being the owner, the cook and the janitor suggests an egalitarianism that defrosts the cockles of my frozen heart. Aside from all that, he is responsible for all the decisions that make this a great place to drink for cheap. The ever-present $2 cans of PBR and $5 whiskey shot/Miller High Life combo deal and constant free booze/beer promotional events prove that Ali is looking out for us broke-lynites.
Come on down to 280 Knickerbocker Avenue (right across the street from Maria Hernandez park) tonight and every Wednesday thereafter as Ali proves he is truly a man of the people and will be giving away pasta for FREE from 8 to 9pm. On any other day, the food menu is refreshingly unpretentious (like the bar itself) and totally delicious. Tasty burgers, hummus and mozzarella sticks are all deliciously hand-crafted by Ali at prices that would make a broke-ass happy.
And, as if Two80 wasn’t saving your ass enough, there will be free Ketel One vodka here on Friday, September 11 from 10-12pm and free Nuvo (sparkling liqueur that’s made from vodka blended with sparkling wine) on Fridays, September 18 and 25 from 10-12pm
The reason this bar is a great place to be is quite possibly found in Ali’s philosophy on why he owns a bar. He is not looking to be the next hot anything. He is providing the kind of place he wants to be a regular in. He wants to run the kind of neighborhood bar that will last forever. Seems to me, he’s off to a pretty good start.
Two80 Cafe & Lounge
280 Knickerbocker Ave. at Suydam St. [BUSHWICK]
open everyday 3:30pm to 4am
subway: L to Jefferson St.
FREE Pasta Night
8- 9pm, $FREE
FREE Ketel One vodka
Friday, September 11
FREE Nuvo liqueur
Fridays, September 18 and 25
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