My brother and sister-in-law used to live in New York for years. They lived on the lower east side, Washington Heights, Williamsburg and Bushwick. I usually visited them during my spring break since I had time off from my volunteer teaching jobs. I loved visiting them, especially when they lived in Brooklyn–it was by far my favorite place they lived.
Last year, they made the move with their band, Ladyfang, to Austin, TX and have thrived there! Check out their newest music here—THEIR NEW ALBUM RELEASES IN MAY AND IT’S FANTASTIC! My personal favorites are “How Long” and “Narcissist”. If you’re in Austin, definitely check them out live. They’re amazing fun and extremely talented!
But I’m feeling a little blue and a tad nostalgic about Brooklyn. Spring break is next week, which means I would normally be preparing to visit New York. I am visiting them in Texas with my sister in May, but that doesn’t mean I don’t not-so-secretly miss Brooklyn. So, on that very leading note, here are my favorite places/things to do in the Brooklyn area. I always gained a few pounds after my trip there–the food was that incredible and I could not get enough!
Williamsburg // Brooklyn, NY
As I mentioned before, my brother and sister-in-law lived for years in Brooklyn. They first moved to Williamsburg and I loved their neighborhood. The thing I loved about Brooklyn in general was that it still felt like a city but didn’t have all the hustle and bustle of Manhattan that I didn’t always love. It felt much homier and more townish that city-ish. That’s how I like my cities. I’m not one for chaos and crowds. Plus, Williamsburg had all the great food, so let’s start there.
My sister was the one who told me that I had to check out Sweet Chick when I visited my brother. She’d tried it when she visited some of her in laws. I am not exaggerating when I say that I ate there every single time I went to New York after trying it once. Three words: Chicken and Waffles. YUM! The chicken is crispy and seasoned so well. It has a little spice and pairs really well with the sweetness in the syrup and waffles. My brother ordered the eggs benedict on one of our trips there. I don’t usually like eggs benedict because I don’t like holandaise sauce, but at Sweet Chick, everything is delicious and these eggs were no exception. You can’t go wrong here. I cannot recommend this place enough. It’s on Bedford, just a few blocks from the train.
If you’re at a loss for where to eat, all you need to do is head to Bedford off the L and look around. Even when my brother moved to Bushwick, most of the time we’d head to Bedford just to eat. It’s the mecca of local cuisine; you could eat anything from pasta to falafel to pizza to 40-cent wings. If you’re feeling Thai food, this place has amazing curry and pad thai. I’ve tried it all and it’s all delicious.
Little Choc Apothecary
Right across the street from their apartment in Williamsburg was this adorable place called, Little Choc Apothecary. My sister-in-law and I went there once for breakfast when I mentioned I wanted to try it. This place is NYC’s first fully vegan creperie and their crepes are even gluten-free, which is awesome since my sister-in-law is a vegan. They also serve a variety of coffees, teas, and non-caffeinated drinks (hence, apothecary). In addition to their delicious food, the atmosphere of this place is amazing. It has so much character both inside and out, which is what drew me to it in the first place. There are few places that feel more peaceful to sip a cup of tea and enjoy a V-GF crepe with bananas and newtella!
So I’m a sucker for all things ice cream. Of course, I had to get ice cream anywhere I could when I visited. Two places in particular were amazing: Blue Collar and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. Blue Collar is actually a really small burger place that was right next to my brother’s Williamsburg apartment. However, they go in this category for one reason: their milkshakes. The day we moved my brother and sister-in-law to Bushwick it was a million degrees outside. I think I had 3 milkshakes that day. They were super creamy, flavorful and extremely affordable!
Now, last year when I visited, it as during the March Madness tourney. My brother and I stopped at Croxley’s for wings and beer (see above link) to watch my beloved Cavaliers in the Sweet 16. On the way home, we stopped into Van Leeuwen’s for a late-night snack and oh, man am I glad that we did! Not only is their ice cream truly creamy and flavorful, they have an entire menu for vegan ice cream options. This place is amazing, it’s got several locations, and it so happens to be the best ice cream I’ve had in NY.
Honorable mentions: There’s a gelato place that I tried when we went to the Chelsea Market. It’s called L’arte del gelato, and it was amazing. I had hazelnut in a cone and died happy.
My brother used to work for Stand Coffee, an amazing little place with locations all over NY. They first started out with a booth at Smorgasburg. If you’ve never been to Smorgasburg then you’re seriously missing out. It’s exactly what it says it is: a smorgasburg of food, basically a food festival that happens every week in the spring and summertime. The first time I went I think I gained 5 lbs alone. I had everything from coffee at Stand (their dirty chai is divine), to wood-grilled pizza, to a ramen burger, to bread pudding that I still dream about to this day. PLUS, all my Filipinos out there, they have gourmet LUMPIA–aka Filipino egg rolls. You can get every flavor plus some turon–my favorite Filipino dessert–for less than $20. This year, Smorgasburg opened on April 1st and takes place every Saturday from 11-6 pm. Bring cash. You’re welcome.
Right on the edge of Williamsburg is the beautiful Waterfront Pier where you can get a view of Manhattan, Williamsburg Bridge, and the East River. They have awesome seating all along the pier and a ferry that’ll take you back to Manhattan. It’s gorgeous and so peaceful there, despite hundreds of people walking every which way. I suggest you get a falafel on Bedford, walk down to the pier, grab yourself a nice bench with a view and enjoy. Because whenever I dream of New York, I always dream that I’m at the pier.
Bushwick // Brooklyn, NY
After a year in Williamsburg, my brother and sister-in-law moved to Bushwick for a little more quiet and peace of mind (read: more affordable living). I loved Bushwick. If Williamsburg was homey, Bushwick was the small town outside of the homey city. It’s gotten trendier (read: more gentrified) in recent years and will likely continue in that direction, which is both unfortunate and awesome. There are some cute places near where they used to live and I wish I had more time to explore the area before they moved.
Coffee & Doughnuts
I’ve already told you that my brother worked at Stand Coffee. What I failed to mention was that my brother is a coffee junkie/aficionado/snob. So, of course, there are several places where we had coffee and brunch that I loved. Right around the corner from their apartment was a new store called, Routine. This place has pastries every day and their coffee is made to order. It’s right off of the Wilson Ave station on the L.
Not even two blocks down is my favorite Bushwick coffee spot, Father Knows Best. My friend and I had brunch there once, and I was pleased to realize that their food was as amazing as their coffee and pastries. I had the egg sandwich and it was downright delicious. The chorizo was so flavorful without overpowering the rest of the dish. If you’re on Wilson Ave, don’t overlook this little place.
Lastly, there’s Bushwick Coffee House. This place is a little farther out (but not really that much) than the other two. This place has an amazing atmosphere. There’s a little deck area outside with seating and a stage where they hold performances. Inside, they have hot coffee and handmade doughnuts–emphasis on DOUGH. These doughnuts are huge, both in size and flavor. Not into doughnuts? They also have other pastries, salads, juices, and other brunch, lunch or dinner items.
Houdini Kitchen Laboratory
Named as an homage to Harry Houdini, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory prides themself on their imaginative and daring flavors. They’re a little farther out than the above locations, deep within Ridgewood. Their vibe is industrial with a bit of rustic elements here and there. While they do have handmade pasta, Houdini’s is all about the pizza. They’re crust is thin and flaky and their flavors and toppings are incredible! My favorites are the Habanera, Guido BK, and Nduja. I love the roasted flavor mixed with the spiciness of the meats. Not interested in those? They also have a make-your-own pizza menu. I always went here when I was in Bushwick, even if it was only for a one-day visit.
Our Wicked Lady
I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one late-night hang out for you. Our Wicked Lady describes themselves as “a bar for Brooklyn’s artist community and their friends, where a band can step out of their rehearsal space and onto the rooftop for a drink and an artist can finish a piece just in time to catch a live show downstairs”. Not only can you enjoy a fantastic drink and view on the rooftop bar, but you can also rent studio space or rehearsal space if you’re a burgeoning artist and/or band. Some of their current acts include Karen Glass Tattoo, run by my sister’s sister-in-law. Did I also mention that the bar is owned by my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law? I’m not being biased when I say that you won’t be disappointed by everything this place has to offer. It’s starting to warm up, so look out for their rooftop bar to be opening soon!
There ya have it–my favorite places for a good meal in Brooklyn. I have by no means been to every place there could be to eat, nor have I been to all of Brooklyn. I can only speak from experience and hope that you find a new favorite place to eat from that! I’d love to hear from you about where you like to visit when you go to New York.