When you first walk into Red Lantern, two things immediately come to mind. The first is that it looks more like an old-school speak-easy than a coffeeshop or bike shop, and the second is that if it is, in fact, a bike shop, this isn’t your dad’s bike shop. This is a shop run by guys with long hair and tattoos, and the bartender/barista is sporting a t-shirt that says “Satan is great, whiskey is neat.” In short, it’s awesome.
But it’s not for everyone, so if you’re not a fan of the hipster crowd, it may not be the shop for you. But if you just did a killer mountain bike ride and are heading back to Manhattan, or if you finished up a weekend century and your bottom bracket is loose, plus you’re parched and a little hungry, this is worth the stop. When I first walked in, my first thought was that I was underdressed. Having just come from a run, I was wearing shorts and a tank top that sadly hid most of my tattoos. My hair was a mess, and not in a cool way. My socks were rolled too high. And instead of walking into a bike shop that happens to serve coffee, I walked into a gaggle of hipsters enjoying vegan empanadas, PBRs and cappuccinos for brunch while I attempted to look casual and order my iced tea.
Red Lantern is more of a foodie spot than a bike shop, though the shop is legit and located past the bar. Bike culture is everywhere, from funky chain and cassette lamps hanging low over the bar to retro bike posters and frames lining the walls. The menu is legit as well—a few food options, largely sandwich-themed, with plenty of vegan options, and well as a few beers on tap and some seriously good coffee, plus they have their own homemade milks, from hazelnut to almond to sunflower seed. The hazelnut is amazing in an iced Americano. Highly recommended.
And while the waitstaff and crowd can be intimidating if you’re not used to the punk scene, they’re ultra-nice, even if you’re not wearing faded jeans and an obscure band t-shirt. There are plenty of tables and while some are filled with boisterous mid-20s hipsters drinking beer and chatting, the other half are filled with quiet mid-20s hipsters working on laptops. Yep, it’s a younger crowd, and definitely a hipper one, but if you’re looking for a cool place to sit and get some work done while sipping a chai latte made with sunflower seed milk as you nibble on a vegan empanada, this is the right spot for you. While this sounds like a shop that’s bound to overcharge for everything, it truly isn’t. A double shot Americano is only $2.50, and most of the sandwiches are under $7, while the beers are between $3 and $5. Not bad for Brooklyn, right on the other side of the Manhattan Bridge.