She's big. She's beautiful. She's Brooklyn. Manhattan's neighbor to the east has become a veritable mecca of wholesome food, great vintage, and enough craft beer (and ginger-beer-based cocktails) to fill the East River. Not to mention a plethora of date-worthy guys and gals — ever walk through McCarren Park on a sunny weekend afternoon? No? Try it. But, we digress, because there's so much more to Brooklyn than well-dressed hipsters and organic juices.
If you're a neophyte (or even a BK local), it can be more than a little intimidating to navigate the most populated of the five boroughs — there are a boatload of neighborhoods offering so many different experiences, after all. So, we've broken it down for you, with the ultimate (and — we're just going to say it — most badass) guide to the best that Brooklyn has to offer. From the Polish village of Greenpoint to the gentrified shops of Park Slope, our list has everything to make you want to stay across the river for good.
Bedford-Stuyvesant/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill
Made most famous in pop culture by the likes of director Spike Lee (most of his films are set in the neighborhood), Chris Rock (same with his semi-biographical Everybody Hates Chris), and rapper Notorious B.I.G., Bed Stuy is the hub of all things Soul Food, stoop hang outs and outdoor basketball. Slowly the gentrification train is strolling through, with restaurants like Do or Dine and Habana Outpost bringing a bit of that "new Brooklyn" to the area. The area is a picture of quintessential Brooklyn, with rows of beautiful brownstones and a great community vibe.
Best Backyard in Bed Stuy: Project Parlor, 742 Myrtle Avenue (Between Sanford Street and Norstrand Avenue); 347-497-0550.
Best "Brooklyn" Cuisine: Do or Dine, 1108 Bedford Avenue (between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street); 718-684-2290.
Best Doughnuts: Dough, 305 Franklin Avenue (at Lafayette Avenue); 347-533-7544.
Best Dive Bar: Rope Inc, 415 Myrtle Avenue (between Clinton and Vanderbilt avenues); 718-522-2899.
Best Night Cap: Fulton Grand Bar, 1011 Fulton Street (at Grand Avenue); 718-399-2240.
Photos: Courtesy of Do Or Dine, Dough, General Greene, Peaches
When looking for an apartment on Craigslist, hoping for a second floor walk-up on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, you'll probably find yourself checking out a lot of "East Williamsburg" apartments. Yeah…that's not "east” Williamsburg. That’s not Billyburg at all. That's Bushwick. It's a whole different beast, filled with warehouse parties (you watch Girls, right?), warehouse restaurants, and warehouse lofts. Did we mention there are a lot of warehouses? Aside from that, Bushwick is actually brimming with dimly lit bars filled with attractive and thirsty customers, jam-packed vintage stores, and great venues. Just try not to get caught in a "crack-cident"…(again, Girls?).
Best Iced Americano: Wyckoff-Star Coffee Shop, 30 Wyckoff Avenue (at Starr Street); 718-484-9766.
Photos: Courtesy of Roberta's, The Narrows, Tortilleria, Wyckoff Starr
Boerum Hill/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill
Here at R29, we like to call this little slice of heaven BoCoCA — and some of us even call it home. Between the oh-so-Parisian charm of Smith Street and the shopper's paradise of Boerum Hill, this neighborhood (or, rather, group of 'hoods) has almost everything you're looking for when it comes to stuffing your face and emptying your wallet.
Best Foccacia: Rucola, 190 Dean Street (at Bond Street); 718-576-3209.
Best Pizza: Lucali, 575 Henry Street (between Carroll Street and 1st Place); 718-858-4086.
Best Japanese: Ki Sushi, 122 Smith Street (between Dean and Pacific streets); 718-935-0575.
Best Italian Sandwich: G Esposito & Sons, 357 Court Street (between Union and President streets); 718-875-6863.
Best Late Night Hook-up Bar: The Boat, 175 Smith Street (between Warren and Wyckoff streets); 718-254-0607.
Best Classic Bar: Brooklyn Inn, 148 Hoyt Street (at Bergen Street); 718-522-2525.
Best Vintage Furniture Store: Bright Lyons, 383 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt streets); 718-855-5463.
Photos: Courtesy of Brooklyn Inn, Cafe Pedlar, Calexico
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (yep, that's what it stands for) lies the burgeoning neighborhood of Dumbo. With impressive restaurants, amazing views (the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are at your door step), and a serious candy store, it's quickly becoming a go-to spot for the condo-dwelling Brooklynite. Esquire Magazine purchased a penthouse apartment in The Clock Tower residence, where they now host parties and exclusive fundraisers. You might even catch Anne Hathaway and her new pixie hairdo walking her black lab through Brooklyn Bridge park.
Best Ever-Changing Menu: Superfine Restaurant, 126 Front Street (between Pearl and Jay streets); 718-243-9005.
Photos: Courtesy of Dewey's, Governor, Gran Electrica, ReRun
Once overshadowed by the glitz and glam (alright, grunge and all-too-cool grime) of nearby Williamsburg, the little Polish village of Greenpoint is now chock full of great bars, restaurants, and trendy, independent stores. Though the neighborhood is still populated by a heavily Polish, family-oriented community, the slow influx of 20-something urbanites has definitely given a boost to the "scene."
Best Backyard: The Bar Without a Name, 597 Manhattan Avenue (between Driggs and Nassau avenues); no phone.
Best Place To Play Buckhunter While Eating Free Pizza: LuLu's ,113 Franklin Street (between Greenpoint Avenue and Milton Street); 718-383-6000.
Best Curated Shopping Destination: Raised by Wolves, 174 Franklin Street (between Java and Huron streets); 917-291-5256.
Photos: Courtesy of Five Leaves, LuLu's, McCarren Park, Raised By Wolves
Park Slope/Prospect Heights
Though, yes, it may be the mecca of all things adorably (and nauseatingly) domestic — think strollers, leashes and yuppies — you don't need to be a "breeder" to enjoy the perks of this burgeoning neighborhood. With great (great) restaurants, a growing bar scene, and enough hot dads to keep your eyes occupied for hours on end, Park Slope is slowly becoming the #nextbigthing. Plus, with Prospect Park as your backyard, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, various farmers markets, and great scenery are just a part of your day-to-day. Rumor has it SJP is even making her way Slope Side with Matthew and the kids. Seems Brooklyn really is the "new Manhattan."
Best Scavenger Hunt: The Community Bookstore 212 Court Street (at Warren Street); 718-834-9494.
Best Beer Shop That’s So Much More: Bierkraft, 191 Fifth Avenue (between Berkeley Place and Union Street); 718-230-7600.
Best Jamaican Food: Islands, 803 Washington Avenue (between Lincoln Place and Eastern Parkway); 718-398-3575.
Photos: Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum, Crespella, Odd Twin, Zito's
The epicenter of "new Brooklyn", Williamsburg has quickly become the go-to stomping ground for those looking for an escape from the all-too crowded streets of Manhattan. Though, we assure you, walking down Bedford Avenue on a Friday is anything but quaint or calm. For amazing food, great bars, and the best people watching, Williamsburg is your match.
Best Inexpensive Shoes: Shoe Market, 160 North 6th Street (between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue); 718-388-8495.
Best Taste of Brooklyn: Smorgasburg, East River (between North 6th and North 7th streets); no phone.
Photos: Courtesy of Amarcord, Cafe de la Esquina, Fette Sau, Music Hall of Williamsburg