I’m in the Caribbean this week (with Crunch, of course) so the blog will be a bit quiet, but, enjoy this never before seen (on this website) tour of my former neighborhood, Greenpoint!
This post was previously featured on Blog Brunch.
While Williamsburg has become synonymous with youth culture, just a few blocks north lies the slightly quieter and lush neighborhood of Greenpoint. Home to throngs of Polish immigrants, countless vintage stores, talented artisans, and even Zach Galifianakis, Greenpoint is quickly becoming the fairer sister of northern Brooklyn and, is a great place to find inspiration as a blogger.
Le Gamin – Robert Arbor, author of, Joie de Vivre, a guide to simple, French-style living, opened a tiny cafe, Le Gamin, in Soho in 1992. Although the location may have changed, Robert’s quiches and crepes are still light as air, and the cafe’s atmosphere reflects the understated yet chic lifestyle mentioned throughout his book. A favorite spot of mine for brunch, I never leave without ordering their unique fruit salad and the house specialty: cafe au lait served in a bowl. 43 Franklin Street.
Paulie Gee’s – This pizzeria is modern in both its decor and menu, but with a chef/owner as friendly and charismatic as Paulie Gee, who makes it a priority to ask nearly every guest about their experience, you’ll feel like you took a step back in time. I can’t recommend a favorite pie, because, frankly, they’re all wonderful. Order at least a few – they are just as tasty the next day, and save room for the bacon marmalade dessert! 60 Greenpoint Avenue.
Calexico – Once a mobile food cart, Calexico planted its roots in Greenpoint in late 2010. The restaurant has a very casual and welcoming vibe and their twist on traditional Mexican fare is unmatched in north Brooklyn. Try one of their signature tortas and a jalapeno mint margarita. 645 Manhattan Avenue.
Relax Restaurant – No trip to Greenpoint would be complete without tasting some traditional Polish cuisine. Endless options abound for authentic Polish delights, but few restaurants get such rave reviews as Relax. Try any of the pierogies for a mid afternoon snack or go for the cauliflower soup and stuffed cabbage for a hearty lunch. Relax does not accept credit cards, but fear not, the prices are so low (most items are priced $4-$10) you won’t have to carry much cash. 68 Newell Street.
Cafe Grumpy – The demand for great coffee in Brooklyn has risen to an all time high. So, while you may be able to find a good cup of single origin espresso at quite a few Greenpoint establishments, very few go as far as to roast their own beans like Cafe Grumpy. Once you have your coffee in hand, take a seat in the back of the shop – not only will you have a prime seat for people watching , but you’ll smell the fragrant aroma of the roasting coffee beans. 193 Meserole Avenue.
The Manhattan Inn – One of the most beautiful spaces in Greenpoint. The dark wood flooring, stadium seats and romantic light fixtures are castoffs from movie sets, Broadway plays and collected from artists around the world. Manhattan Inn makes quite a nice cocktail, but the real appeal is the live piano player featured most nights and, should the theater-style room inspire you to perform -don’t miss piano karaoke. 632 Manhattan Ave.
The Diamond – If you’re looking for a great spot to have a few drinks earlier in the day or evening, The Diamond, with its famous shuffleboard table, beer-centric menu and backyard (complete with a ski lift) will not disappoint. 43 Franklin Street.
Black Rabbit – Equipped with a bevy of classic board games like Jenga and Monopoly, Black Rabbit is a fun option to break the ice between new acquaintances or add variety to a gathering of old friends. Also, the saloon style booths and service push buttons are a nice touch. 91 Greenpoint Avenue.
Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream – A little difficult to pronounce, but oh so easy on the taste buds. Started in 2008 by the Van Leeuwan brothers, they focus on super fresh and high quality ingredients, resulting in a richly flavored frozen treat that is comparable to none. I recommend the hazelnut or earl grey varieties, or, if you’re craving caffeine, opt for an affogato – Intelligentsia espresso poured over 2 scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. 632 Manhattan Avenue.
Cookie Road – They may be famous for their sugar cookies paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, but don’t leave without trying my personal favorite – a lemon macaroon. 94 Franklin Street.
SHOP & EXPLORE
McCarren Park – No matter what time of year it is, a walk through McCarren Park is essential to a true Greenpoint experience. It’s a lovely way to walk off any sweet temptations from earlier in the day, and, if you happen to be visiting during the summer, don’t miss the newly opened McCarren Park pool! Lorimer Street.
Rite Aid – At first glance, this Rite Aid might look like a normal drugstore, however, as you walk down the entrance ramp, your eyes will become fixated on two things – the large circular room you’ve entered and the giant (working) disco ball in the middle of the ceiling. Housed in a former roller rink and movie theater, I quickly dubbed this curious store Roller Aid and I make sure I bring my out of town guests here at least once during their stay. After gazing at the disco ball, don’t forget to look to your right and peer at the gorgeous carved balconies above the pharmacy desk. 723 Manhattan Avenue.
Fox & Fawn – As I mentioned above, vintage shops are everywhere in Greenpoint. There are great finds to be had at any of the stores in the neighborhood, but my favorite has to be Fox & Fawn. What sets this store apart from the rest, aside from its adorable name, is, because of its tiny size, it simply doesn’t have the space to stock loads of lackluster merchandise. This means the buyers pick out very special pieces to showcase in the shop, making your hunt for something showstopping, and, one of a kind, a lot easier. 570 Manhattan Avenue.
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm – It may seem strange to visit a farm in a city as large as New York, but Eagle Street Farm is really something special. Set on a warehouse rooftop three stories high, this 6,000 square foot organic garden has a spectacular view of the NYC skyline and hosts “open farming” days, educational programs, special events and a weekly farmers market (April through November). Not only does it give residents an opportunity to buy local vegetables and fruit, but several nearby restaurants get their produce exclusively from the farm, allowing them to support their community and reduce their carbon footprint. 44 Eagle Street.