Food & Drink: Guides
22 Escapades For Every Kind of Brooklyner
(Photo: Brooklyn Bridge Park, via Arch Paper)
Whether you're a local who needs to shake up your day off or you're just visiting and don't know where to start, we’ve mapped out 22 ways to have a great day in Brooklyn, for every budget and style.
1. An evening out for the shamelessly wine-obsessed
Start your evening at Mauzac, a cozy little wine bar just across from Fort Greene Park, which has a weekday happy hour from 4-7pm, which often features specials on wine flights.
Reflect on the subtle notes of that Pinot Noir while you stroll off the wine in Fort Greene before heading east on Dekalb, where you'll find yourself unable to pass Thirst Wine Merchants without ducking inside to pick up a bottle or two for home. If you like, they'll even store the kind of the wine you pick under your name, so you can better remember when you find a new favorite.
By now you should be hungry, so head over to Roman's (photo above, via Refinery 29), a stellar Italian restaurant. They don't take reservations and are a neighborhood favorite, so if there's a crowd go ahead and find a seat at the bar. Chat up the bartender to see what's good on the extensive wine list.
2. A jaunt for literary shoulder-rubbing & bookish imbibing
Few neighborhoods in the country are home to more authors than Cobble Hill, so if you want to make your day a literary one, you'd do much worse than to head there. Start with an exquisitely pulled espresso at Cafe Pedlar, and see if you can recognize one of the writer regulars who get their afternoon jolt here.
Head a few blocks up Court Street to Bookcourt, where some of the kind & knowledgeable staffers have published books of their own in recent years. Try to pick a night when there's a reading, of which they host plenty.
3. A virtuous afternoon for the hipster atoning for too many PBR's
Wake up at noon, realize you have missed your Sunday brunch date and then go back to sleep. Wake up again at 1pm, drink a lot of water and then declare you're going to start being healthy today (really!) with a by-donation yoga class at Yoga To The People. Hop on your bike and head to the 2 pm class.
Wow, you feel great, right? By now you're ready for food so head over to Wild Ginger on Bedford Avenue, which will probably be nearly empty today since everyone else is eating eggs and downing Bloody Marys. But not you - you're all about vegetables and tofu today. It's the straight and narrow from here on out, for at least a few more days.
4. Secret Talent Day
There's only one stop on this little day trip and it's name should tell you everything you need to know: 100 Fun USA. A Japanese-style all-in-one karaoke club deep in south Brooklyn where you can drink bubble tea and belt Celine Dion power ballads. You'll need to bring a group of friends, though, and be prepared to spend about $30 a head on food & drinks in order to get your own private room.
5. A Day of Shopping for the Brooklyn-o-phile
This May you'll again be able to spend your weekend supporting local Brooklyn artisans doing precisely the kind of thing that Brian Williams loves to mock: eating Brooklyn-made food at Smorgasburg or shopping for hand-made crafts at The Brooklyn Flea.
Finish off your day of utter Brooklyn-ness with a visit to Brooklyn Oenology, the wine bar and store that is run by a winery of the same name. BOE uses Long Island grapes, uses work by Brooklyn-based artists on their labels and hosts events with other Brooklyn based companies like Raaka Chocolate and Brooklyn Gin.
If that’s not enough Brooklyn for you, try checking out By Brooklyn – a general store selling all sorts of goodies made locally and a new online store, With Love, From Brooklyn (photo above: Tea It Up selection, via with love, from brooklyn) which sells curated gourmet gift baskets of products – you guessed it, sourced locally! Take it a step further and take our poll: Just How Brooklyn Are You?
6. Put On Your "Serious Person" Outfit and Go Look At Art
Bushwick is packed with small, rouge art galleries these days, an answer to the over-sleek Chelsea & Soho scene. Hop off the L at the Morgan stop and get started by stopping by 56 Bogart Street, where you can peruse nine galleries in one building.
7. What To Do When You're Traveling in a Mob & Don't Want To Be Annoying To Other People
Heading to a bar or restaurant with a large group always seems like fun, until you actually get there. There's the bewildered look of the hostess as your gang approaches, the annoying business of splitting a check, the awkward Tetris of chairs and tables. You're better off grabbing something quick and heading to a park.
Stop by Forager's Market for delicious (if a little pricey) sandwiches and salads, then head to Brooklyn Bridge Park where you can take in million-dollar views of the city. (Photo: Opera in the park, via mcbrooklyn.blogspot.com)
If it was legal to drink in the park (which it is not) you could grab a bottle at Blanc & Rouge (which I am by no means endorsing since you can't drink in the park.)
Prep for the warmer months and check out their calendar of events to see if there is a movie or other event happening. It tends to get crowded, so it would be good to get there early to stake out your territory!
8. An Afternoon of Oddities
Before the Look-At-This-F*cking-Hipster tumblr, there were plenty of other unapologetically bizarre Brooklynites, and many can still be observed in their natural habitats. Start your day at Russian Bath House where old-school Russian, mobster-types hang out and sweat and do vodka shots.
While you're in Coney Island, stop by the Museum and if you're lucky maybe the Sideshow will be performing: snake charmers, sword swallowers and those guys with nails in their heads. Yikes!
End your day with a beer at the Lucky 13 Saloon, a metal/goth/LGBT/karaoke bar in, of all places, Park Slope. If you're there on a Thursday, revel in "Scaryoke," where I'm guessing you'll hear anything from Marilyn Manson covers to punky versions of karaoke standards.
9. A Date In Which There Is No Awkward "Who-Pays" Moment
It’s date night for one, so take yourself to a movie at BAM's Rose Cinema see whatever you want, without having to compromise.
If it's too cold to sit outside, grab a bite at Pequena, a tiny hole-in-the-wall where you can easily dine alone, otherwise head to Habana Outpost (a seasonal restaurant re-opening April 14), a neighborhood place for a solo bite, but also a fun place to meet people when the frozen margaritas are flowing.
10. The Blow-Your-Trust-Fund on a Night of Conspicuous Consumption
When you're in the mood to drop a lot of money in Williamsburg, only Peter Luger's will do. A classic steak house that only accepts cash, you'll feel a little like a character from Mad Men when you leave a fold of crisp 20's on the table.
Call a cab then head to Hotel Delmano (photo right), a cocktail bar that luckily does accept credit cards, since you gave all your cash to Peter Luger's. Save your receipt, though, because when you sober up and look at your bank statement, you might need a reminder that Hotel Delmano was a few rounds of fancy cocktails and not a night in an actual hotel.
11. The High-Brow Wallet Buster
Catch an opera or a play at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), then head to the Chef's Table (you could walk, but since you or your date will be in heels, just give Blue Car a call.) You'll need a reservation for the Chef's Table at least six weeks in advance, but once you're there you'll be wowed with 20 small plates prepared before your eyes. Oh, and it's $200 a head. No big deal, right?
12. The Man-Can't-Live-On-PBR-Alone Day
An off-shoot of the wildly popular Smorgasburg is the new Smorgasbrewery, an event held in Brooklyn Brewery's tasting room which pairs Smorgasburg grub with a rotating line-up of beers.
Afterwards, stumble on over to Spuyten Duyvil, a tiny beer store that stocks rare and obscure beverages, and, as one clerk noted, "No bodega beer."
13. The (Insert Cheesy Pun Here) Walk
Fun Fact: The German word for a distended belly after one has stuffed one's face is "Kase Kinder;" the direct translation is Cheese Child, or Cheese Baby (I might have made that up). With that in mind, head to Tuffet, a small bar with a focus on cheese/meat plates for sharing, where you can get to work on making that cheese baby.
From there it's a twenty minute walk & Roberta's, a locavores-lovers' mecca where, God save you, another bevy of cheeses await you, either straight up or on a raft of expertly crafted pizza.
14. Diets be damned: The Afternoon-long Sugar High
Grab a hot chocolate from Black Brick, a newish coffee place in Williamsburg which serves Jacque Torres's liquid heaven.
Take a little walk to the dessert paradise called Milkbar and order the Crack Pie (photo left, via Serious Eats), a pie so good they have trademarked it.
If you're not in a diabetic coma yet, go finish yourself off with a Bourbon Cocktail at whiskey bar, Post Office.
15. The Brooklyn Triathalon
Once it's warm out (oh wait, it is – where’s Winter?), there's free kayaking on Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you're brave enough to get that close to the East River and willing to wait for about an hour (you can do squats and lunges that long, right?) you'll have a great time. Work those shoulders!!
It's only a 2 mile run to Gowanus and yes I said Gowanus; don't ask questions, just GO!
Whew! Great time. You're now at the largest indoor climbing gym in New York City, Brooklyn Boulders (photo above, via nycgo.com) Sign your waiver, rent your gear and get to it!
16. The High Brow/Low Brow Dance-off
Drop in for a class at the Mark Morris studio, which offers a wide variety of classes for all skill-levels: everything from the Merce Cunningham method to Jazz to African to Ballet and all forms in between.
Hop on the subway out to Sunset Park for dinner and dancing at Jaguars 3 (photo left, via Jaguars 3) a brand new 16,000 sq ft multi-experience venue where you can shake it out to all your favorite Top 40 songs.
17. The Epicure's Stroll for Basic Provisions
Begin your stroll on Smith Street, first to Stinky Bklyn for a hunk of fancy, artisan-produced cheese, then to Bien Cuit, to get a loaf of hearty sourdough from a new bakery that is being called the best in the city.
Walk a few blocks over to Court Street and grab a bottle of wine at Brooklyn Wine Exchange. If it's Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday before 6pm, stop by the farmers' market at Borough Hall where you can get some fresh produce to go with your fancy grub. Otherwise, duck into Trader Joe's (right next door to Brooklyn Wine Exchange) and I'll pretend I didn't see those low brow snacks falling into your basket.
18. A Day for a History Buff
Start your day at the Old Stone House, which is, um, an old.. stone… house… in Park Slope which was built in 1699. It's been preserved and now serves as a museum about the American Revolution, the Battle of Brooklyn and colonial life in the area.
Since you're already in Park Slope, download a walking tour of the neighborhood.
End your walk at the Central Brooklyn Public Library and marvel at public architecture that is actually good!
19. The Brainiac's Day of Learning
Take a class at the Brooklyn Brainery on anything from making Kim Chi to how to do your taxes to the history of pin-up girls.
If it's a Tuesday, head over to Ceol Pub on Smith Street for a quiz night, or plan your day ahead of time and catch one of the Fred Talks (like a TED talk, but it's free and done by your friends) hosted in their Brooklyn location. (Full disclosure: this is hosted at my house, but I don't run the series. It's every other month, though, and the website isn't always up to date.)
20. A Walking Taco Tour
You know where you can get a lot of pretty awesome tacos? Crown Heights. The neighborhood has been mostly dominated by Carribean and Hasidic populations in the past and the whole neighborhood is in a state of flux at the moment. Stop by Chavela's first, a longtime neighborhood favorite that has just moved to a newer, larger location to keep up with demand. Head up the street to Guero's for a fried avocado taco, then over to Taqueria De Los Muertos (photo above, via Yelp) if you can possibly ingest any more greasy goodness.
21. A vintage shopping spree
Once it warms up, there will be a bevy of outdoor markets to find your short shorts for the season. I suggest starting your day of serious shopping with a coffee from Joe and a bite at Dekalb Market's food-truck food-court, then scour their mini-stores (built into colorful, metal shipping containers) for vintage dresses and hand-made finds. Walk down Willoughby Avenue towards Fort Greene Park, then through the park and over to Lafayette Avenue to hit up the classic Brooklyn Flea. Also around the corner from Dekalb is Unique, a gigantic thrift store on the Fulton Mall that is still little-known. You have to dig through a lot of stuff, but I always almost find something worth their insanely cheap prices.
22. Oh My God, Your Parents Are In Town
Lord knows you're not going to hang out in your tiny ass apartment with your parents who would probably be appalled by it anyway. Instead, tell Papa to put his boat-sized white New Balances on and take a stroll through Brooklyn's most expensive and picturesque neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, before walking along the promenade down to Dumbo.
If your folks are the artsy-leaning types, take them to a show at St. Ann's Warehouse. (Fair warning: they sometimes put on some pretty experimental stuff, so know your audience.) If they'd rather watch a movie, see what's playing at Brooklyn Heights Cinema.
Either way, most parents will love Bubby's, a casual fried chicken and burger place that's nice-ish, but also casual enough that your mom won't mind wearing her walking shoes there.