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Hipster Dining Guide: 24 Restaurants Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff
November 12, 2013
Photo by: Facebook/Roberta's

The "Brooklynization" of dining across America is as inevitable as the next season of Portlandia. From mason-jar-laden tables to menus loaded with shishito peppers, canned beer and pulled pork sandwiches, restaurants are aligning with certain "hipster" trends and seeing big business as a result. The upside is that many of these eateries are putting a focus on quality ingredients - even if it takes an on-site rooftop farm to do so. Check out 24 picks from 12 U.S. cities that are "putting a bird on it."

  • Photo by: El Prado

    Los Angeles: El Prado

    The record collection at El Prado in Echo Park is almost as well known as the beer and wine selection. Weekends and big show nights at the Echo and Echoplex across the street are packed, but weekdays are pretty mellow. It all adds up to automatic hipster romance.

  • Photo by: Facebook/DC Reynolds

    DC: DC Reynolds

    Hipsters love this spot for its location on the border of two oh-so-hip neighborhoods, Park View and Petworth. Also drawing crowds are the large patio out back, the reasonably priced (and locally sourced) food and an outstanding happy hour that offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal from 5-9 PM Monday through Saturday. Plus, you know you’re a hipster bar when its logo looks like a mustache.

  • Photo by: Mark Silva

    DC: Red Hen

    This spot's business cards are made of old menus, which is perfectly in line with the hipster mantra of "recycle, reuse, reduce." Other tip-offs that this was a shoo-in for instant hipster status when it opened in April: an animal (and a color) in the name; the mysterious, in-the-know sign featuring just a red hen; celebrated sommelier Sebastian Zutant’s bow ties; and, of course, the restaurant’s Bloomingdale address.

  • Chicago: Handlebar

    Brace yourself for a hipster double whammy. Handlebar is decorated with bike parts and only serves vegetarian food. Whoa. Bar stools are made out of bike rims, tires hang from the ceiling, and bike parking lines the front of the building. Since 2003, the restaurant has served fair-trade coffee, cooked with all-organic eggs and sourced produce from local farms. Right on.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Johnny Brenda’s

    What does it mean when a bar that recently took first place in a popular "best-bars" rating is also cited as a hipster magnet? Maybe that more people want in on the movement than they’ll admit. Whatever you call it, the all-local craft beer lineup combined with a rocking indie band performance calendar hoist this Fishtown pioneer to the top of all kinds of lists.

  • NYC: Bun-Ker Vietnamese

    You probably need a bike to get to this new, off-the-beaten-path Vietnamese spot in increasingly hipster Queens nabe Ridgewood. It's already drawing vocal fans for its affordable menu, which is served in a no-frills space light on ambiance. Bonus: it's BYO, and conveniently, Western Beef is right nearby to provide a selection of canned beer.

  • San Francisco: Mojo Bicycle Cafe

    A bike, preferably with fixed gear, is one of the most universal hipster stereotypes in San Francisco. If you need a bike to take to pop-up dinners around town, you can get or service one here and enjoy weekly appearances from popular roaming vendors Rice Paper Scissors and Wes Burger. Can you say winning?

  • Houston: Moon Tower Inn

    Dudes in skinny jeans with beards reminiscent of the 1890s, gourmet hot dogs, a backyard and a bad-ass attitude give Moon Tower Inn serious hipster cred. 

  • Photo by: Rob Sumner

    Seattle: Witness

    Witness has a kind of sweet Southern charm, which probably has to do with the down-home menu and traditional cocktails that buck the fancy-mixology trend. Those Sazeracs go down easy, especially when partnered up with mac-'n'-cheese-topped, bacon-gravy-smothered Dixie poutine. 

  • Dallas: Mot Hai Ba

    Many a hipster has heard this funky Lakewood enclave’s siren song, so it’s no wonder this Vietnamese-influenced restaurant has an indie feel. A no-frills devotion to solid dishes such as pho, banh mi and shaken beef belies its sleek, urban design.

  • Dallas: Truck Yard

    Because you can take your bottled cocktail up into a treehouse! And because there’s a cheesesteak window called Steak Me Home Tonight. This unique beer garden/food truck restaurant has quickly become a hipster heaven on Lower Greenville.

     

  • Photo by: Joey Maloney

    Los Angeles: Honeycut

    When you’re looking for booty-shaking cocktails on tap, spirit-heavy concoctions in a piano bar, and a disco with a Saturday Night Fever dance floor, Honeycut, the new hidden hideaway below the O Hotel in Downtown LA, is your place.

  • Austin: Rio Rita

    Hipsters love their Bloody Marys, and Rio Rita’s back patio provides the perfect scenery for tossing a few back (or sit inside in one of the private spaces constructed with curtains). Pro tip: the Bloody Mary made with pickled okra and infused vodka is truly a work of art.

  • Philadelphia: El Bar

    Don’t let the sea of scraggly beards and round-rimmed glasses scare you away from this “hidden-not-hidden” bar beneath the elevated subway tracks at Front and Master in Fishtown. You wouldn’t want to miss out on your best source of bartender-opened forties of malt liquor, nor the cheap-as-they-oughta-be snacks like bags of Lay's chips and dirty water hot dogs.

  • Photo by: Wood Tavern

    Miami: Wood Tavern

    This graffiti-plastered bar with an outdoor garden and wooden picnic tables specializes in craft beers such as Agave Wheat and Fat Tire. But for those non-beer drinkers, there are a few cocktails to try too, including the Bourbon Razz made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and ginger ale or the Chile Tequila with hot sauce and sliced cucumber.

  • San Francisco: Trick Dog

    Not enough old-timeyness in your life? They're partying like it's 1899 out at this Mission watering hole, where the hamburgers come in hot dog buns (aka the Trick Dog) and the cocktails are lovingly massaged by hand.

  • Houston: Down House

    The staff at this Heights coffee shop/restaurant/bar is made up mostly of tattooed, creative, free-spirited folk. Plus, the interior has one wall decorated with an old-timey bicycle - pretty much the calling card of hipsters everywhere.

  • Chicago: Blind Robin

    In the words of the be-all-end-all hipsters in Portlandia, “Put a bird on it.” That's just what dive bar Blind Robin did, except they put a bird in its name and logo well before the TV show made it cool. The bar specializes in cold drinks and loud music, with a rotating selection of beers for about $5 and weekly $4 beer specials.

  • Boston: Backbar

    This cocktail lounge is a sibling to neighboring restaurant Journeyman, a tasting-menu-only restaurant guided by the chef's whim du jour. Backbar is equally ambitious and just as keen on the details - drink geeks rightly swear by its custom pours and hip, clandestine vibe.

  • Boston: Brick & Mortar

    Take one part Central Square. Add loyal devotees who have been haunting this spot since it was indie music lounge The Enormous Room. Splash with twenty- and thirty-something tipplers in jeans as skinny as the stemware, who have been flocking here ever since it transformed into one of the city's foremost cocktail bars. Result: hipster cred, cubed.

  • Miami: Gramps

    This offbeat bar opened last winter with live alligator wrestling, potent drinks and a raccoon-hat-sporting DJ. Today, it still holds true to its random mismatched entertainment with live punky rock bands and classic horror flicks played on their terrace, enjoyed with scotch-infused penicillin cocktails and grilled cheese from the Ms. Cheezious food truck parked outside. 

  • Photo by: Luuvu Hoang

    Seattle: Quinn's

    One of the city's first and best gastro-pubs, Quinn's is still packed with diners hooked on its over-the-top Painted Hills beef burger, the wild boar Sloppy Joe and stunningly good foie gras frites. The busy bartenders know their stuff, creating new drinks and mixing up classics. Open until 1 AM.

  • NYC: Taquitoria

    A taquito-only menu is some kind of hipster ideal. You can snag these deep-fried snacks until 2 AM on weeknights and 4:30 AM on Friday and Saturday. And despite the LES location, we're pretty sure of the crowd they're targeting based on their offering chicken braised in Bloody Mary mix.

  • Austin: Way South Philly

    Enjoy the fall weather and sit outside at one of the many trailer parks on the street. We particularly recommend the massive cheesesteak at Way South Philly, which will keep you full on your drive back to the real world, aka the rest of Austin.

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