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July 26, 2016

New York Side Trips: Brooklyn

Rooftop bar at The Mccarren Hotel & Pool // Photo by Conor Harrigan
Rooftop bar at The Mccarren Hotel & Pool // Photo by Conor Harrigan

You might be in Manhattan for a meeting, but we say it’s wise to get yourself over to Brooklyn for some authentic drinking and dining experiences.

Hipster Fun: Williamsburg

Tucked between the East River and Bushwick Avenue is trendy Williamsburg. How to get there? The “L” train subway will remain running until January 2019 before shutting down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for a projected 18 months to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Alternatively, take a cab or an Uber…it’s all quick and easy, just ask a local. 

Once there, take a walk down Bedford Avenue, which is filled with the funky shops and restaurants that have helped make Williamsburg a destination. A dining must? Sweet Chick at 164 Bedford Avenue, so super popular it was even drawing a crowd even on a Wednesday afternoon. We sampled the fried chicken sandwich, which is served with spicy honey on the side. We also tried the grilled chicken salad, which comes with a spicy kick. This eatery also serves traditional sweet tea and lemonade made with or without a little kick of alcohol. Guess which one we chose. Hint: Be prepared to sit close to other patrons, and there is a communal table (along with other seating) and a small bar. 

Did someone say pizza? Continue your stroll down Bedford, Joe’s Pizza is on the corner at 5th Street. We enjoyed a quick slice and though we might sound jaded (we are), you’ll find that New York City pizza is the best in the world. No discussion needed.

Want more? Along Bedford, Bagelsmith serves house-made bagels, natch, and then there’s the Bedford Cheese Shop. This place has artisanal cheese samples maintained by knowledgeable cheesemongers (yes, we just said that). 

Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Avenue) shows both new and fan-favorite movies with a twist. This theater has a gourmet concession stand, tableside food and beverage service. We suggest ordering a cocktail in the downstairs bar, Lo-Res, before the show in one of the three theaters. We also suggest checking out the themed-series like Country Brunchin’. This quarterly show brings together country music, brunch and, of course, movies with a splash of Southern fun.

Time to Cool Off

Williamsburg might be a super urban destination, but there is a place to swim and it’s at The Mccarren Hotel & Pool on North 12th Street. What we love: Guests of this pool can sip Prosecco while relaxing on one of the lounge chairs or cabanas. Want to take a small group over there? There’s a package available for up to 10, which includes Boozy Ice Pops and a chance to soak up the summer sun. (Food and beverage are included in the package.) After a day of swimming, and sunning, you can venture over to the rooftop bar for views of the Manhattan skyline and live music. This is the perfect way to spend a day in one of Brooklyn’s hottest scenes. To book a special day at the pool, contact Ronny Baroody ([email protected]), director of events.

Cherry esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden // Photo by Adam Leposa
Cherry esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden // Photo by Adam Leposa

Brooklyn, we’re not done with you yet. Set along Eastern Parkway near Franklin and Washington Avenues, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights are home to numerous gems for lovers of art, nature and food to check out. 

Coffee Time

Did someone say, “caffeine?” At the corner of Eastern Parkway and Franklin Avenue is The Pulp & The Bean, which is our pick for the best coffee in the neighborhood (and yes, there is a Starbucks next door). The bagels here are also pretty darn good. Plan on the two sole tables inside being filled while you’re there, but do head over to a bench on nearby Eastern Parkway, which is more peaceful than it sounds, and is one of our favorite ways to start off a day in the neighborhood. 

Fun With Nature

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a true gem in this favorite borough of ours. We’re partial to the blossom-lined Cherry Esplanade, but also to the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden (think wooden bridges, stone lanterns and a Shinto shrine). Here, the conservatories display everything from desert plants to a collection of bonsai trees. In town during the autumn months? It’s still a great time to visit, the gardens are still fascinating to observe, even if they’re not in full bloom. Insider Tip: Check out what’s blooming at www.bbg.org/bloom. Better Tip? Admission is free before noon on Saturdays, except for days with special events. 

Want to do more? Just next door to the BBG’s entrance on Eastern Parkway is the world-famous Brooklyn Museum, with fabulous permanent and rotating collections with a particular focus on feminist art in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center. As part of the “Target First Saturdays” program, admission is free on the first Saturday of each month. At other times, admission is by suggested donation. 

Where to Eat

Glady’s, part of Franklin Avenue’s booming restaurant scene, serves Caribbean food and craft cocktails (they’re partial to rum here) and we say the jerk chicken and plantains are menu standouts and for brunch, try the ackee and saltfish. 

Cheryl’s Global Soul is famous; it serves comfort food in a small space with a garden. If you’re in for brunch, definitely check out the salmon hash — it’s our favorite. 

For authentic Brooklyn Italian fare, visit Bar Corvo, which offers an awesome lineup of homemade, fresh pasta. Be sure to save room for dessert.
Yes, we know you’re still thinking of pizza (so are we) and we suggest Barboncino, which serves wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies and a lineup of craft cocktails. If you’re there on a Tuesday, expect some live jazz.

Where to Imbibe

Franklin Park is easily one of the most popular bars in the neighborhood, thanks to its outdoor patio and craft beers. We’re enjoying its reading series, which hosts an impressive lineup of fiction and nonfiction writers; it’s held on the second Monday of each month and includes a draft drink special. It draws crowds but that only makes you feel like more of a local insider.

For something more low key, visit Butter and Scotch, which serves dessert-themed cocktails. It’s all a combo of a bar and a bakery and it’s a neat way to end an evening. We also love that its brunch menu includes biscuits and gravy. 

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About the Author: Adam Leposa

About the Author: Natalie Maneval

Natalie Maneval





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