I once swapped coasts for a stint in The Big Apple (East Village and downtown) and Fort Greene in Brooklyn. I used to live right across the street from Pratt College. That’s when Myrtle was mostly filled with corner delis and coffee shops that were cash only.
I left Brooklyn in 2013. So much has changed since then. As many too-cool-for-school cities go, much of it became commercialized, with new high rise condos, a Starbucks and even a Trader Joe’s. When I lived in Brooklyn, I could count the number of Starbucks with one hand. There was one in DUMBO and another one at the Jay Street Metrotech stop. Two.
People have such polarizing opinions about all the commercialization. Some love it, “thank GOD for a Trader Joe’s!” while others reminisce and long for the days of no tourists in DUMBO, graffiti walls and and an empty-ish L train.
Each time I go back, I’m surprised by all the new developments, but more so than that, I’m suspicious that everyone is a tourist, and I can’t figure out who actually lives there. Maybe no one?!
Whenever I visit, I tend to avoid the city. I only go there to meet up with friends who live in the outskirts and therefore, need to take the train into Penn Station or Grand Central.
If you’re visiting Brooklyn and want to go where it’s less touristy, I’d highly recommend the following:
- Fort Greene – stroll down Myrtle and browse the shops and restaurants. Fort Greene Park is also beautiful.
- Williamsburg – walk down Bedford for more shops and restaurants. I love checking out Beacon’s Closet (the one on Guernsey St.), if you like consignment.
- Prospect Park – there’s a zoo, botanical garden and the Brooklyn Museum in the park.
- Red Hook – a cute area with shops and restaurants near the water. A lot of it was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, but it’s all fixed and new again. The trains don’t run this far, so you’d have to Uber it or take the bus. There’s a seafood restaurant there, Brooklyn Crab, but avoid it because it’s not good and it’s also overpriced. If you’re in the mood for seafood, venture into the West Village for Fish. They don’t take reservations, but it’s SO WORTH THE WAIT!
- Brooklyn Heights – walk down Montague Street and check out the incredible mansions along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
- BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) – on Lafayette. One of my favorite places to go to see an obscure indy flick. They also have live performances here.
The following places will be crawling with tourists, but if it’s your first time to Brooklyn, I say, why not. It’s definitely better than Times Square.
- DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) – there’s a cute park and you can see awesome views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge – do this early, to avoid the crowd.
- Good alternatives – Williamsburg Bridge or Manhattan Bridge
- Coney Island – have a Nathan’s hotdog while you’re there.
I admit I don’t do a ton of research for hip, cool places to go when I visit, but I sometimes venture into Jersey City and Brooklyn (Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Bushwick).
I know this is a post about Brooklyn, but these are my favorite eateries in the city. I hope they never, ever close down.
- Fish in the West Village – for fresh fish, oysters, king crab legs and sinful garlic mashed potatoes AND their banana cream pie!
- Posto (Italian) in Gramercy – for pizza with a crust so thin you can snap it in half like a cracker.
- Soba-Koh in the East Village – uni and salmon roe soba noodles… I dream about this place.
If you’re in Brooklyn and want a healthy brunch option, go to Lella Alimentari. It’s such a cute little (tiny!) place that resembles someone’s kitchen.