Tip-Top Bar & Grill
432 Franklin Avenue, Bed-Stuy
If you hang a sign at the entrance of your business that reads, “ABSOLUTELY NO DRUGS, YOU ARE BEING WATCHED,” you probably know a thing or two about running a good bar. This kind of homemade approach pervades Tip-Top, making it feel more like your unmarried uncle’s cool rumpus room than a Brooklyn bar (which is a good thing, to be clear): there’s astroturf, a makeshift stage in the back, leftover Obama posters from the ’08 election, and plenty more handwritten warnings all over the place (“HAVE RESPECT, DO NOT WRITE ON THE WALLS,” reads one in the bathroom.) More importantly, there’s the unfailing friendly staff, who’ve seen it all but still make you feel like family even if you’ve just stumbled in for the first time. The drinks aren’t quite as cheap as you might expect—the average beer or mixed drink will run you around $5—but they’re well worth it as the price of admission to one of the last bars standing where you can really, truly just relax. (Worth noting though, that later on in the evening when someone’s put some money in the jukebox, this place is no stranger to wild, impromptu dance parties.) Add to that their excellent fried fish sandwiches and a spacious backyard for the summer.