In a new series we’re featuring here, we’re picking out our favorite areas in the United States and showcasing all of the best places to visit while you’re there. First up is our home city, New York. Because the five boroughs are gigantic, we’re divvying it up among our favorite neighborhoods. Check back for more in the coming weeks!
If you know me at all, you know it’s been a long time since I’ve had an address for longer than a year. I’ve moved a lot since graduating from college and while I think I’m in a place where my mailing address might last through the next holiday, I have a lot of love for some of my prior addresses. Most especially: Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I was lucky enough to find a killer apartment that year, with three bedrooms, a working dishwasher and backyard space. I even had two roommates I was very excited to live with. And while I was nervous about moving to an area of Brooklyn I’d never been to, and especially a part of Brooklyn without an accessible subway, I was excited to finally have gotten out of my parents house. Nothing against them (as they were seriously gracious hosts) but I was craving that freedom… and an easier commute to work.
That first summer was a crash course in Red Hook.
And although it’s been a few years now since I’ve lived there, there are so many places that are near and dear to my heart, my wallet and my stomach.
A bunch of us stumbled upon this warehouse-hidden treasure during a long and sweaty excursion to brunch in the high heat of August. It sounds more dramatic than it really was, but you have to be a certain level of heat-stricken to think a whiskey tour would be the right thing to do to quell your thirst. But it paid off. The team there is warm and friendly, beyond knowledgeable about not only their brand but whiskey and moonshine and bourbon (which we all tried, of course).
And if you don’t wanna pursue the tour but still really want a drink, they have a killer bar and a great little scene for happy hour.
Are my friends surprised this one wasn’t first on the list? I admit, I’ve been here maybe a million times. More Saturday and Sunday mornings than I can count, actually. Sometimes nursing a hangover, sometimes craving their perfect pancakes. Seriously, even if you just order a single serving of one, you won’t be sorry. The vintage diner is a sight for sore eyes, and the prices on the menu don’t hurt. The food is delicious, the servers become friends and they have a karaoke machine that takes over the bar on weekend nights.
You ever want a low-key night out with serious bar grub and a solid drink, the Ice House is exactly what you need. I’ve found myself here when I didn’t know where else to go more than a few times. The vibe is that kind of “you leave me alone, I leave you alone” that works.
Plus, they have a great back area with a fire pit.
Cover your ears, Josh- but this was kind of my date spot. The dim lighting, the excellent cocktails, the incredible food- The Good Fork is the kind of restaurant you can suggest to nearly everyone. It’s just that good. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s 100% worth it, especially when you get a spot outside underneath the fairy lights as the restaurant cat darts past the fence. Like I said, killer date spot. For potential partners, or even for best friends with a solid bottle of wine to split between you all.
You ever feel yourself stuck between mini-golf or seafood? No? Well, if that ever DOES happen, you’d be totally happy and totally cool with treating yourself to Brooklyn Crab. The outlandishly decorated, built for the beach bar is a landmark in Red Hook. With the Statue of Liberty in view and Fairway right across the way, it’s really hard to miss the three story restaurant and bar. You have games on the ground floor and mini-golf in the backyard, plus two more floors of food and drink and serious charm.
I had a failed Tindr date here once. I can admit it. He was shorter than his profile said, less charming and way more egotistical. So, I can’t say I fell for him, but I sure as hell fell for the bar. With a jazz band playing in the back and really great drinks, the ambiance was almost enough to convince me that it was worth a second date.
I actually own a t-shirt from this place that’s how much I love it. When I was moving to Florida, my own roommate bought me a shirt to remember it by. But I mean, are you looking at that pulled pork sandwich? ARE YOU? It’s majestic. The bbq joint is super casual, with a counter to order from and a lot of tables to choose from while a band plays in the back corner. There’s a lot of music in Red Hook, with solid musicians found in all the best spots off of Van Brunt. And it especially sets the mood at Hometown.
If anyone else in the world is as obsessed with key lime pies as I am, you have to go here. They have everything you could ever want. From small, medium, and large sized pies to chocolate covered pie pops, you’re totally freaking set.
The hike to Red Hook is always worth it, in my opinion. But with all the good food in every other borough, one of the easiest ways to convince a friend to come visit is to take them to Pioneer Works. The non-profit organization is part-time music venue, part-time art gallery and full-time cool. That sounded cheesy, didn’t it? It does a lot of great work, putting forth the effort to nurture upcoming artists and writers with in-house programs and classes. Plus, it has Second Sundays, an amazing artist showcase once a month.
If you’re looking for a dingy, hole-in the wall bar with weirdo portraits on the wall, banjo-playing musicians strumming along and an outdoor patio that can rival any beer garden- you’ll want to visit Jalopy Tavern. This bar is just around the corner from my old apartment and we’d gone a million times while living there. It always attracted a lively crowd of locals and the bartender could always make a seriously mean Manhattan.
Although I’m happy where I am now, I had some of the best times of my life living in Red Hook. There was always somewhere new to explore, new restaurants to try, and the perfect view of the Statue of Liberty to gaze at while munching on a snack from Fairway. If you’ve ever been or are planning to go, let me know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to make the best suggestions.