When the owners of the extremely popular Five Leaves decided to grow their mini empire in Greenpoint, they changed direction. Instead of the Aussie atmosphere of that Heath Ledger-affiliated bar and cafe, Nights and Weekends focuses on Mexico and the Caribbean. In the mini-flatiron formed by Bedford, Nassau, and Manhattan Avenue, the doors are thrown open and the festive vibe welcomes all. But if you're sporting a tattoo, skateboard, or Mom jean short shorts, you might get a slightly bigger welcome.
Out of the corn nuts, out of the shisito peppers. That sounds likes the refrain to one of the 1970's Americana records being played while we ate. "Out of the corn nuts, out of the peppers / cry me a river and get me a zephyr." It also meant we were limited in our appetizer options. We settled for the housemade cheese bread with salted guava butter ($6). The orange disks tasted as cheesy as the loaves you might get at a Times Square chain, but they were far less starchy and far more airy. The butter evidenced a terrific fruity dairyness; it should be packaged and sold. We're not ashamed to tell you that there was more than a little knife licking.
The fish tacos ($13) offered multiple fried wedges of mahi. Not even the mango-habanero salsa or the creamy caper aioli could temper their crispness. Thankfully the salsa had a bit of kick, in addition to its citrusy acid, and shreds of slaw almost matched the fish crunch for crunch. Let purists scoff. This dish's sweetness acts as a complement to most alcoholic beverages, and serves to remind you that life is good.
The choripan ($12) were three chorizo sliders, on the aforementioned cheese bread, topped with chimichurri and red onion. Perhaps it was the chimichurri, or perhaps the bread had been charred too long, but the sliders had a deep smokiness that tasted of grill. Alongside were strips of fried plantains. As with the fish tacos, these were a fresh take on typical bar snacks.
Nights & Weekends serves drinking food. It's sloppy, it's fried and meaty, it favors punchiness over delicacy. Speaking of drinks, the soft ones include Mexican Coke and all kinds of Jarritos, while the harder stuff ranges from lots of rum to housemade cocktails like "dramamine" (lime, grapefruit, apple brandy, flor de cana, and velvet falernum) to the "slush del dia." The music only seems loud until it stops, at which point the traffic noise rushes in, reverberating off walls the color of stormy seas, metal chairs, and salvaged wooden floors. With its garage-party atmosphere and cocky food, Nights & Weekends is best for: a fun-loving date.