Whether you're from out of town or just out of the neighborhood, there's nothing like a good stroll on a nice day in any NYC neighborhood. Especially when you've got the latest local recommendations.
BROOKLYN - Though it’s accessible on the L train, East Williamsburg is often overshadowed by its adjacent Greenpoint and Bushwick neighborhoods. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for more than 15 years and am still making discoveries. The neighborhood has a rich Italian heritage and lots of Latin cultural celebrations — the street signs on Graham Avenue, the main thoroughfare south of Grand Street, read "Avenue of Puerto Rico."
Get the lay of the land by walking east on Metropolitan Avenue, south on Graham Avenue, away from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), or east on Grand Street. All three streets will have a smattering of the standard local grocery store brands, bodegas, and bars, and a mix of denizens like the older Italian lifers, the younger newcomers, and the small families. The side streets’ residential architecture spans the gamut from older walk-ups to the ever-encroaching condos, and there remains a healthy blend of people, culture, and businesses — for now.
Sundays in the neighborhood are best spent out and about consuming caffeine: maybe a cappuccino at Hungry Ghost or a pour-over at Variety. One of the newest cafés to open along Graham Avenue is Land to Sea, which serves café staples and Asian-inspired treats like red bean buns.
Now very alert, I’ll stop into We See Stars, a cute home and accessories boutique for gifts. Rosehip, the local florist, is my spot for fresh bouquets and dried seasonal bunches. The Meat Hook butcher stocks high-quality, pasture-raised, and local meats, along with fresh produce and special pantry items..
By this point, I’m hitting my mid-day stride and eager for a brunch sit-down spot. Top of my list is Pheasant (and honestly, its dinner menu is hard to beat, too), where the cornflake-crusted French toast is a winner. To satisfy an Italian craving, it’s Pecoraro Latteria all the way. A reincarnation of the neighborhood dairy shop, it sells fresh, hand-stretched mozzarella, focaccia, panini, and pizza. If the weather’s nice, I’ll make my way to Campbell & Co. for a grab-and-go sandwich and meander over to Cooper Park for everyone’s favorite NYC pastime: people-watching. Or maybe I’ll walk south of Grand Street and stop into Win Son, where it’s a hard decision between the millet mochi donut, the scallion pancake, or the B.E.C.
I’ll head back up to Metropolitan Avenue to drop in to the neighborhood mainstay of 50 years, Crest Hardware, which, contrary to its name, houses a 5,000 square-foot backyard garden and flower shop. Close by is Vine Wine, whose sidewalk sign provides daily news bites and a side of snark. Just across the street is Tangerine, a lifestyle concept store that “embodies the feel of summer all year long,” and where one could be tempted to purchase a new hair accessory or beach tote at any moment.
Winding into the evening: Depending on my mood, I could go for a grandma white slice at Mo’s General or try my luck for a walk-in diner seat at the new Cantonese spot, Bonnie’s, from a former Nom Wah chef — quite possibly the hottest neighborhood reservation to snag. If I don’t have tickets for a show at Brooklyn Steel, then it could be a nice night for Tuffet, a wine bar with moody lighting and good tunes, or Grimm Artisanal Ales, a nomadic brewery that put down some roots in the area. After a full day, I feel lucky to have such variety at my fingertips.