Fort Defiance

If you’re going to schlep out to Red Hook, it better be for a good reason. IKEA certainly provides one. So does Fairway. But the latest draw to lure you to Brooklyn’s least-accessible neighborhood is Fort Defiance, a corner-hugging breakfast, lunch and dinner spot with a Tatterdemalion aesthetic that knocks it out of the ballpark for ambiance, food and value. Black and white tile, marble-top tables and chest-high wainscoting lend the sun-filled brick building an old-port authenticity that’s downright difficult to come by in 21st century New York. The restaurant also possesses that rare ability to transform itself from casual café to romantic bistro after the sun sets over Red Hook’s storied piers, once the workplace of thousands of hungry longshoremen. The owner, Pegu Club alum St. John Frizell, plays keep behind a tidy bar, while an eye-catching crowd from the neighborhood nibbles deviled eggs and sips house-made sodas while guarding the fort against the inevitable onslaught from Manhattan.

menu musts*

Sweet and spicy pecans
Muffuletta sandwich (soppresata, coppa, mortadella, Emmenthal, provolone and olive salad)
Roasted beet salad with watercress, goat cheese and pistachios
Red beans on toast with two eggs
Meatloaf sandwich on hamburger bun with tomato relish
*The menu changes up to three times a week.

sweet seats

The four-seater in the window is ideal for watching the world outside go by.

chew on this

The real Fort Defiance (which once stood just blocks away from the restaurant’s location) was destroyed by the British in 1776 during the Battle of Brooklyn.


Mon., Wed., Thurs., Sun. 8 AM-midnight.
Tues. 8 AM-3 PM
Fri.-Sat. 8 AM-2 AM

price range

$14 (chicken and dumplings) to $22 (filet mignon)