Bar Neon has been a community haunt for quite a few years now. Its pretty back patio is packed in the summers and the artsy interior is the same year round, and they’re known for their happy hour specials. This is one to get to early, especially depending on the size of your party.
Owned by Niki Tsourounakis, also the proprietor of Cafe Neon brunch spots both on Wallace and Queen, the bar tapas here are adapted from recipes her mom and grandmother from Crete taught her. She tends to head up the bar while partner Katy Chan leads in the kitchen.
Walk past a large bench space recessed into the front window into a little bar with touches like a custom mural by Jeff Garcia, water fountain and neon above the bar reading “last call.”
Both front and back areas are happily bedecked with rainbow pride flags.
Proceed through the bar to get to a back patio festooned with strings of lights and outfitted with comfy wooden booths and chairs. This spot welcomes parties, a big table surrounded by wooden benches perfect for popping bottles and sharing oysters.
Said oysters are buck-a-shuck until 7 every day, paired with a $5 draft beer special. After that, the fresh shucked Malpeques are $14 for six, $24 for a dozen, served with simple red wine mignonette, horseradish, and lemon. Locals know this is secret one of the city’s best specials.
Calamari ($12) is a crunchy, lightly corn-flour fried mezze, served with breezy and simple lemon and tzatziki that accentuates the squid’s juiciness.
A dip platter ($16) comes with three of their signature house-made authentic Greek dips, and an adequate amount of toasty, seasoned, soft pita wedges.
Choose from tzatziki made simply with pressed yogurt, cucumber and garlic, earthy Kalamata olive and almond tapenade, sweet fuschia roasted beet, yogurt, and zaatar dip, and more ($8 individually).
A greek salad or horiatiki ($9.75) is authentic and rustic, rough chopped tomato, cucumber, and green pepper with slivers of red onion and olives dressed with olive oil and oregano and topped with a dollop of whipped feta.
Cocktails are $11.50 across the board. Their “Loening” negroni opts for bourbon over gin with sweet red vermouth, Campari, and West Indian orange bitters for a citrusy, bitter drink that’s easy to linger over.
Bourbon, muddled sugar, and a heck ton of ice and mint are all that go into the sweet and boozy Mint Julep.
A classic margherita of tequila, Cointreau, agave, simple syrup, and lime, is served the right way, on the rocks with a heavily salted rim.
A sign glows in the front window here, luring drinkers with the simple words “cute staff, ice cold beer.”