With its huge barbecue platters, hefty burgers, and meal-sized appetizers, Waterfront Ale House unabashedly serves up the style of "go big or go home" classic American pub fare not suited for dainty eaters. Still, it's not the size of the plate, but the little touches that make good food great—and this longstanding bar has perfected just that.
Waterfront's Venison Chili Nachos ($17.95) are a great example. Venison chili with black beans sits atop a bed of warm tortilla chips melted together with jack and cheddar cheeses and garnished with tomatoes, olives, onions and pickled jalapenos. A dollop of dill sour cream balances out the meaty dish. The venison is meaty without being gamey, and best of all, the thick-cut tortilla chips hold their own from start to finish. If you want the chili on its own, you can get a crock ($16.95) served with rice.
Owner Sam Barbieri is a barbecue aficionado, and it's hard to visit Waterfront without finding yourself in front some form of grilled or smoked meat, such as the "Award Winning" Barbecue Spare Ribs (Half $18.95 / Full $27.95). The secret is in the sauce, a spicy, tangy concoction that makes you pucker with pleasure. Leave room for Waterfront's excellent sweet potato fries and spicy mustard slaw.
There's no room for small appetites at this pub, but if you're not feeling hungry, help yourself to free bowls of popcorn from Waterfront's popcorn machine. But be forewarned: you'll only last so long with the tantalizing smell of chili, burgers and barbecue lingering in the air.
Waterfront Ale House
540 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016 (map) 212-696-4104