Park Slope recommendations
I am a DC Hound looking for Park Slope recommendations. I will be staying with some friends in Brooklyn at about 5th Avenue and 4th Street. one of my friends said that there is a ton of restaurants and bars around his place. However, I wanted get chow recommendations as well. Our general criteria would be italian, indian, thai, or American. Nothing too adventurous. We also would like to stay right around the mid-$20 entree range. Great taps are a plus. We are in our late 20s and casual dress is important for this trip. Please help.
Pretty much all the recommendations you've gotten here are good ones -- I'd also definitely add my voice to the chorus for al di la: astonishingly good food at astonishingly reasonable prices. (The seppia and oxtail! The squash ravioli! The braised rabbit! The calf liver! Be still, my heart.) The couple of times I've been there I've really enjoyed the beer and small dishes at Beer Table -- you can get a flight of three craft beers for like twelve bucks, your choice of pretty much any type, and each one I've had has been unique and truly memorable (and previously unknown to me). In a similar vein, for a light snack and good beers you might go up 5th avenue to 15th street and check out Der Komissar, which has a wide selection of brews and a variety of excellent wursts, sauerkraut, potato salad, pickles, and the like, in a friendly, casual atmosphere.
And I know you didn't say anything about Chinese or Vietnamese, but I'd feel remiss not to note that for only a few bucks you can get a cab to 8th ave and 42nd street to Ba Xuyen for mindblowingly good Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, or farther up 8th avenue to 52nd street to Lucky Eight for excellent Cantonese (warning, though: the Peking Pork Chops are seriously addicting).
Based on all all the dining blog buzz, I think Pork Slope might fit the bill. It opens this Saturday, on 5th av and I believe near Carroll. It is owned by Dale Talde who owns a highly popular restaurant; this will be a more casual outpost for well made bar food and a big beer selection.
Blue Ribbon sounds like it's up your alley. Good combo of non-adventurous (fried chicken, braised short ribs) and more adventurous (bone marrow with oxtail maramlade, steak tartare) food. Menu is very eclectic -- so pleases a wide variety of palates. Don't know too much about the beer selection as I never acquired a taste for it.
I'll 2nd the Al Di La recommendation and agree with Texas Toast about the dicey nature of Thai and Indian in the area. Re ADL, it gets crazy busy. If you're going for dinner on a weekend get there before 6:00 or be prepared to wait up to an hour. (They'll take your cell # and call you when your table is ready.) They're open for lunch and it's much less crowded.
Pok Pok is well regarded but the crowds there put ADL to shame - 2 hour waits on the weekend. Hit it just when it opens or go early in the week.
I'd add Campo di Fiore to your list. (5th Ave. and Berkeley) Roman style pizza and salumi made by actual Italians. Good burgers and great chicken wings can be had at Bonnie's. A little further afield is Bar Toto (6th Ave and 11th St.) for very good paninis, burgers, and grilled pizzas.
I'd hit High Dive for drinks. (5th Ave and Carroll) About 20 beers on tap, pleasant ambiance, and free hot popcorn.
You're not going to have much trouble with casual dress or meeting your price-point in the neighborhood, though finding good indian and thai is basically a non-starter (in our house were pretty picky about both those cuisines and nothing in the neighborhood comes close to our standards). Indian options are generally unworthy (balucchis is a pretty gross northern indian chain, kinara further down 5th has been ok in the past but more in a "im-exhausted-and-need-something-spicy-greasy-wihtout-leaving-my-house" than destination worthy, search for aarpan for a more recently opened place with slightly broader and more southern skewed menu) and thai isnt much better (i dont really get peoples love for Song other than the true fact that it is a good value price/volume-wise, and of course the fact that most american's think thai food should be super sweet and served in trendy environs).
Enough being negative nancy, here are some solid options in your wheelhouse:
-Bierkraft. do not pass go, do not collect 200 beers anywhere else, go here. 11-12 dollar growlers of great local beer and bottles from everywhere and anywhere. the sandwiches and meat/cheese plates are a good option too, even if they (somewhat) play second fiddle to the beer. very casual spot (picnic tables, no service to speak of, you go to the fridges for bottles and theres a counter where they fill the growlers and bombers).
-search al di la for the neighborhoods best italian (no reservations, kinda long waits on busy nights/times, you'd be fine dressed casually though some folks may be more dressed up because its one of the nicer spots in the neighborhood. get the squid ink risotto).
-applewood is a really solid american option as well, good cocktails.
-on revisiting the thai thing, id highly recommend you guys take the F train (or bikes) to check out Pok Pok which is super-popular but rightfully so. their thai menu is the antithesis of Songs - authentic, regional, and very far from teh typical chicken-pad-thai found at 99% of the unexciting thai spots out there.
In addition to the above recommendations, I would add Franny's (pizza, pasta, seasonal vegetable dishes), Littleneck (seafood and raw bar, excellent lobster roll) and Beer Table (beer and small bites).
Depending on how long your stay is, you might also want to look into having some meals in nearby Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens or, if you want to venture further for some great food, Williamsburg.