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Eat and Drink

Vinyl record-minded bars, cafes in NYC

BierWax owner Chris Maestro, 41, vividly remembers purchasing his first vinyl record from a Binghamton, New York, radio station in the mid-1990s -- before he even owned a turntable. He’ll be the first to admit he had no idea what journey that purchase would set him on.

“It began there,” Maestro, 41, said. “I’ve been a DJ and vinyl collector for over two decades, but then 12 or 13 years ago I became very interested in craft beer. So BierWax really was a way of marrying my passions.” 

That marriage has resulted in a groovy, sudsy spot in Prospect Heights where patrons can kick back and tip back a glass of locally brewed beer to the rich, analog sounds of vinyl records. 

But Bierwax isn't the only one.

Below you'll find a list of vinyl-inspired cafes, bars and restaurants scattered throughout the city.

BierWax

Chris Maestro, owner of BierWax on Vanderbilt Avenue,
Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Maestro has capitalized on his experience as a DJ, record collector and tap room manager to create an oasis for those cut from a similar cloth. The bar works closesly with such local brewers as Other Half, Kings County Brewers Collective, Interboro, Threes Brewing and Grimm Artisanal Ales and keeps a varity of brews in rotation. The bar also hopes to expand it's offering of live DJ sets, so keep an eye out. 556 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights

Gold Star Beer Counter

Gold Star Beer Counter in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: Sari Goodfriend

The charm here lies in its humility. The owner and staff are always friendly, willing to let you — within reason — sample draft offerings until you find what you like, and with 16 rotating brewskies on tap you might not even notice the eclectic mix of 45s behind the bar (on slow nights, bartenders are rumored to throw on records brought in by patrons). On your way out, grab a growler for a nightcap once you get home. 176 Underhill Ave., Prospect Heights

THE VNYL

The VNYL in Manhattan.
Photo Credit: Oleg March

At this upscale joint, where the library is on display as you enter and actor Adrian Grenier serves as official music director, the take is a bit more conceptual. The stronger theme here is the 1970s, which can be both seen and tasted. Every piece of furniture has been custom designed, the walls are graced with art befitting a visit from a debonair Roger Moore and the refined menu is inspired by California culture. 100 Third Ave.

The Mixtape Shop

Zoe Ross Allen 8, of Bed Stuy, examines
Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Audiophiles are likely already aware of this minimal, vibey record store and cafe. For true vinyl collectors, it’s the perfect place to grab an espresso and a croissant, and get lost in funk, house, electronic and world offerings you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the city (listening stations are also available). For those just dipping their toes into the world of records, prepare for the best. 1129 Bedford Ave., Bed-Stuy

HiFi Records & Cafe

HiFi Records and Cafe in Astoria, Queens.
Photo Credit: @hifirecordsastoria via Instagram

Part record store, part coffee shop, this Astoria gem is all about analog music. On Halloween night, HiFi held a listening party for the release of The Replacements’ live album (complete with Singlecut brews), and in November hosted a “Rise ‘n’ Shine” breakfast courtesy of Bareburger in honor of National Record Store Day. You might visit the first time for the coffee, but you’ll be back for the music and community. 23-19 Steinway St., Astoria

Tokyo Record Bar

Tokyo Record Bar in Manhattan.
Photo Credit: Noah Fecks

Inspired by the same Japanese establishments that fascinated BierWax’s Maestro, this reverent affair is tucked away beneath Air’s Champagne Parlor. At one of two or three seatings a night, you’ll experience a seven-item izakaya menu, with a curated selection of sake, shochu and beer. You and fellow dinner guests can also create a vinyl playlist in real-time to serenade your meal. 127 Macdougal St.

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