6 at 51st St.; E, M at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
It’s a wonder what swapping in “Belgian” for “Irish” as an adjective will do for your typical midtown pub: This eastside counterpart to the Times Square BXL Cafe is a welcome oasis of fancy brews and food. The walls are painted red and collaged with vintage beer ads. A row of high-top tables runs along the side, across from the bar, which plays host to two of Belgium’s favorite things—artisan beer and soccer. The three massive flat screens are always tuned to a match and the mirrored wall behind looks like a boozy Belgian gift shop display with shelf after shelf of beer glasses, one for each type of Belgian and Belgian-style brew, including a wide range of lambics and Trappist ales. The menu offers in-depth descriptions—the Grimbergen Abbey Dubbel is “smooth brown ale with slight notes of berry and chocolate pleasant on the palate with a light malt flavor”—to help out the indecisive. The dining area in back, light brick dotted with various Magritte prints, is an excellent spot to gorge on their $22 all-you-can-eat mussels (Sunday and Mondays after 4pm); they have seven kinds of sauces, and they come with a free Stella.
Picnics with a view, roller-skating nostalgia, and a party for gay headbangers.