Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York, making it the 4th largest ‘city’ in the US. The borough attracts young chefs, artists, entrepreneurs and families, who have opened hip farm-to-table restaurants, cool art galleries and boutiques and markets.
Small is the new big: 90% of business establishments in Brooklyn have fewer than 20 employees with a real interest in sustainability. This borough is hooked on a rural/urban movement that is evident right across so many establishments from organic kale on the menus to running big-city stress off in large leafy parks (this can only make the city a better place in which to live in). Is Brooklyn the ideal city?
Yes it’s full of bearded hipsters riding fixies, and rents are as pricy as in the best spots of Manhattan. So why is Williamsburg the place to be? First you notice the trees, and the sun that shines on low-rise streets, then it dawns on you that you can actually see the sky here. Most restaurants serve healthy, locally sourced food and locally brewed beers.
Feel that slow pace? By the river, there’s a quiet beach with a fantastic view over the Manhattan skyline. Artists started to settle here 20 years ago but when waterfront glass towers were erected, they were priced out of the neighbourhood (they went to Buschwick, East Brooklyn). Local businesses now range from the creative industries to rooftop farming.
Entirely « Made in Brooklyn », including the wallpaper, artisanal soap, and even the muesli at breakfast. All rooms have views of the Manhattan skyline and across the Brooklyn neighborhood.
The Rooftop bas itself is worth a visit and Reynard restaurant in the basement is a favourite with its stripped-down brasserie in a soaring industrial space.
80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th
EATING & DRINKING
This brand new restaurant offers a menu dominated by Roman classics, including Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, spaghetti carbonara and roast lamb, paired with a strictly Italian wine list. Collapse in one of the basement fauteuils with a digestif next to the fireplace. Book ahead.
115 Berry Street
Raw bar, part bistro, part old-school chophouse. The dining-room ambience is pure New England, with its dark wood-beamed ceiling, antique prints of fishermen, and leather-cushioned booths. The Lobster was perfect.
253 Grand Street
A good alternative to the local dive bars when it’s getting late and you want something more refined. Be careful of the Love Potion cocktail. Serves food in elegantly dilapidated surroundings.
TRADITIONAL FOOD WITH A TWIST
MARLOWS & SONS
A small, focused menu – which means they excel at making everything to perfection with great combinations of flavours. The list all the sources of ingredients. Friendly staff and intimate atmosphere. These guys have opened four restaurants in Brooklyn in the last 13 years + a shop, setting the trend for locally sourced food restaurants (Marlow & sons, Dinner, Roman’s and Reynard at Wythe Hotel).
Named in honor of one time Williamsburg resident Henry Miller, Miller’s Tavern is part American bistro and part coffeehouse in a retro space. Organic burgers and oysters on the menu.
2 Hope Street
Basic comfort-food menu with more ambitious specials. Bar seating and tables outside.
314 Bedford Avenue
Burgers, tater tots & kale ceasar salad, great choice of Brooklyn beers served in mason jars (Empire Amber Ale, Genesse Cream Ale). Forest wallpaper, classic tin ceiling and antler lights, the only thing missing is a sauna.
318 Grand Street
From first-generation Napoli pizza to third generation Fornino-style. Try the Gorgonzola and caramelised onions.
187 Bedford Ave
Playful, build-your-own-meal menu, featuring five kinds of two-ounce, house-ground balls, various sauces, and a range of options (slider flights, heroes, pastas and sides). Gluten free chicken, meat and veg sourced with local farms. The look is old New York, with reclaimed wood and antique milk bottles. A retro vibe for a modern meatball.
170 Bedford Ave
CLASSIC DRINKING SPOTS
A welcoming local bar that serves 32-ounce cups of ice-cold beer for $3.50–$4.50 a pop.
188 Bedford Ave
THE LOVIN’ CUP
A classic rock bar (named after Rolling Stone classic), and a connected local music/art venue, called the Cameo Gallery. Dishes up comfort food well into the night.
93 North 6th Street
TEDDY’S BAR & GRILL
A Victorian-era tavern knocking on some 125 years old.
96 Berry Street
Where punks meet A-typical hipsters. A van serves tacos from the back patio, and a summer garden plot evolves into a big fireplace in the winter.
484 Union Ave
COFFEE + BREAKFAST
A long white space, where delicious breakfast is served everyday until 6.30pm to cater for all interpretations of ‘morning afters’: Organic grits, sauted kale or collar green + 2 eggs any style. Also duck, roast chicken salad and pancakes. All products are sourced from Egg’s own farms. Watch the weekend crowds.
135 North 5th Street
Always packed but if you want some good people watching and better coffee and speedy wifi, this is the place to be.
125 North 6th Street
FLEA MARKET on Sundays, East River Waterfront, North 6th Street. Fashion, furnishings, antiques, and edibles. From April to late November.
High standard vintage for he and she.
223 Bedford Ave
One of the best re-sale stores in the city. Three large rooms filled with clothing, shoes & accessories.
88 North 11th Street (next to The Wythe Hotel).
Taking an all-natural aspiration to extremes, Marlow custom tan their 100% grass-fed cow and pig hides to produce a high-quality leather goods line. The hides come from the animals that are served in several of their organic restaurants. They also turn the wool from their lambs and ewes into yarn for sweaters, blankets and rugs. This animalistic vertical integration may challenge the vegetarian but there is a wholesomeness in using the ‘whole’ and employing local craftsmen to create artisan products from the by-products. Grab a copy of The Dinner journal.
Brooklyn beers are currently distributed in 25 states and 20 countries. In 2011 The Brewery underwent an expansion in 2011 that doubled its overall capacity. The Brewery is open to the public Monday-Thursday from 5-7pm for reservation-only small batch tours.
79 North 11th Street
Walk to the religious Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods south of Williamsburg to find many yeshivas, synagogues and kosher delicatessens. Women are dressed strictly in black trench overcoats, hats and flat shoes. It feels a little like slipping back to the early 60s.
Walk to Green Point (or little Poland), North of Williamsburg to discover the Polish community.