Over the summer (which seems so far away now that it’s the middle of January!), I teamed up with Allie to bring you Brooklyn City Guide–and it was so much fun that I decided to do it all over again, this time featuring up-and-coming neighborhoods for Brooklyn City Guide Pt. 2! This edition focuses on three neighborhoods–Greenpoint, Red Hook and Bed Stuy–that house some of the city’s best kept secrets.
Some say it’s the new Williamsburg. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump away from the infamously hipster-heavy hood so the young, hip and artsy vibe pumps through the streets, but it’s not nearly as crowded or colonized as the ‘Burg. This is because the main mode of transportation is the G subway which goes from Brooklyn to Queens and doesn’t pass through Manhattan, keeping the neighborhood full of Brooklyn residents.
I recommend having brunch in lovely local cafe called Brooklyn Label on Franklin Street between Java and India Streets. I had a scrumptious goat cheese omelette and a cup of lemon ginger tea, both were incredibly delicious! This is also a great place for vegetarians and vegans, and I imagine the bar scene at night is an unfussy place to grab a good local brew.
Once you’ve gotten your fill, take a gander at the street art. Greenpoint is chock-full of (mostly functional) warehouses and still has a very industrial feel. Rumor has it that the companies and owners of these warehouses commission graffiti artists to fill the walls of their buildings.
When it’s time to refuel, hit up Cookie Road, a “hole in the wall” bakery featuring delectables best described as cookie art, sugar cookie creations and home of an unexpectedly amazing creamy and delightfully strong cappuccino. Take your coffee and cookies over to the local bookshop, Word. Word features an impressively niche novella section, staff book reviews on new releases and most notably events almost every night, ranging from readings to debates and author Q+As.
Last but certainly not least, you must visit the famous Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop. This old-school Polish bakery has the best doughnuts in all the city (it’s a favorite of Tina Fey!). I ordered the cinnamon bun–which is definitely big enough for three people to share–and was floored by the flavor, texture and overall pastry experience.
To Brooklyners, Red Hook is widely known as destination IKEA but it has so much more to offer than $1 frozen yogurts and cheap furniture. It’s right on the shore, where the ubiquitous New York City pigeons are replaced with seagulls and an uncharacteristically fresh, salty breeze blows through. It’s home to lots of local sea-based activities and shops including the Red Hook Lobster Pound and the Red Hook Terminal, which is the only port in New York City located east of the Hudson River.
Another great reason to visit Red Hook: Baked, a bakery famous for its gorgeous cakes. This is a laid back spot, perfect for chilling out with a coffee (or tea!) and delicious pastry. I opted for the apple turnover, which wasn’t too sweet and had a perfect pastry shell (read: flaky, buttery and not too dry) and a warm, gooey apple filling.
If you’re not up for sweet fare, stop into Fort Defiance, an eclectically decorated and low key brunch spot. It’s named after a Revolutionary-war era American fort and is owned by famed food author and bartender, St. John Frizell. The tomato soup is solid, the wait staff is super friendly and while I didn’t have a brunch cocktail, I left wishing I did because the mimosas looked like the perfect Sunday afternoon indulgence.
BED STUY (short for Bedford Stuyvesant):
Bed Stuy isn’t typically a destination spot, but slowly and surely several amazing eateries are emerging, luring the city’s most seasoned foodies into the depths of Brooklyn. As a Brooklyn resident, I am ashamed for not knowing about Saraghina until relatively recently. The interior is airy and rustic, decked out with vintage decor (fun fact: many of the restaurant’s decorations were once props on the sets of various Woody Allen films!) and complete with a back room pizza-making station for guests’ viewing pleasure. There are both cafeteria style tables and smaller tables for two and four, creating a light-hearted and communal atmosphere, a good place to bring a big group of friends. I first went for brunch (and had an amazing omelette) before realizing that pizza is their specialty. Several of my NY-based friends believe that Saraghina serves the best pizza in all the city. It’s famous Neopolitan-style wood-fired pies are medium sized but hard to choose from, so we (thankfully) ordered two: the Ortolana, a white pizza topped with roasted veggies and the Capocullo, a margherita-style pizza with spicy ham. Both were crisp, sweet and thoroughly enjoyable, definitely giving Lucali and Joe’s a run for their money.
Thank you so much for having me, Allie! I really enjoyed curating both Brooklyn Guides and hope to hear from you and your readers if you ever pay a visit!
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