New York City Walking Tour: Williamsburg
There’s more than just hipsters in this popular Brooklyn neighborhood.
Ever since young creative types started moving to Williamsburg in the ‘90’s for affordable rent, the forces of gentrification have swept through this neighborhood, located just 10 minutes from Manhattan’s Union Square. It’s much larger than most people assume, expanding from the East River waterfront to the Hasidic stronghold above Flushing Avenue, and from the grittier side of Bushwick Avenue up to McCarren Park. And while people continue to flock to this neighborhood for its ever-expanding list of restaurants and shops with locally-sourced ingredients and handmade goods, it’s still not as overcrowded (or overpriced) as the East Village, with places yet to be discovered.
This bowling alley on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint opened less than a decade ago, but it manages to transport bowlers to the Midwest in the 1970’s, with its nostalgic décor and old-school scoring machines. Though it’s a bit grittier than nearby Brooklyn Bowl, at $7 per game and $3 shoe rental, it’s much more affordable. Pass the time over decently priced pitchers of beer while you wait for one of the eight lanes.
Peruse this gigantic warehouse space and turn Williamsburg’s fashionable locals’ cast-offs into your vintage treasures for wallet-friendly prices.
...hop on the L subway line to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery and its vats of microbrews.
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Peter Luger lets the steaks speak for themselves, and it works: the chain, including this tavern-like Williamsburg location, is consistently voted the best steakhouse in NYC and earned one Michelin star in 2012. Starting in 1887, Peter Luger’s trademark has been prime cuts, particularly the porterhouse. There are daily lunch specials like pot roast and filet of sole, but the steak reigns supreme. The servers aren’t always the most suave, but the juice-draped porterhouse makes up for it. And if one meal isn’t enough, prime cuts and the Old-Fashioned steak sauce can be ordered online.
In God We Trust
Opened in July 2011 on Bedford Avenue right between the L train stop and McCarren Park, the newest location of this Brooklyn based company features their full collection of retro-inspired women’s and men’s clothing, jewelry, and other accessories, most of which is hand-made up the block in owner-designer Shana Tabor’s Greenpoint studio. Many items are unconventional, like the silver flask etched with a skull, crossbones, and the word poison. Or jewelry necklaces stamped with off-color phrases. Engraving, hand-stamping, and other customization of jewelry and gifts is available.
Though this pizza joint is technically in Greenpoint, Williamsburg’s quieter neighbor to the north, the Neopolitan-style pizza made in the domed white-tiled oven here is worth the 10-minute walk from “the Burg” for its simple but delicious thin-crusted pies. Owner Paul Giannone spins out pizzas and personally greats diners to see how they’re enjoying their meals most nights. Dinner for two $50.
A spin-off of the Brooklyn Flea, this food-only market happens every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the waterfront adjacent to the East River State Park. Eat your way through goods from approximately 100 vendors, including pork sandwiches from Porchetta, doughnuts from Bed-Stuy7rsquo;s Dough, and a bounty of Brooklyn-made goods from Anarchy in a Jar, Kings County Jerky, and Morris Kitchen. While it’s just a short walk from the L train at Bedford Avenue, the East River Ferry drops you off directly in front of the food stands.
This tiny bakery is locals’ go-to spot to for sweet and savory baked goods on the weekends. A buzzing group of bakers in blue work jumpsuits hum along to the likes of Fleetwood Mac while churning out flaky almond croissants and crusty baguettes, that can sell out by 10:30 a.m. on any given Saturday morning. Grab a pastry to go, or linger over an au lait, served in the French style in a large bowl.
People are still buzzing about the “new Brooklyn,” where each artisan establishment seems to out-craft the next. And the Wythe—near the Williamsburg riverfront—has become the crown jewel of the borough’s renaissance. Converted from a 1901 factory, the 72 rooms are studies in restraint, with original cast-iron columns, salvaged-timber-beamed ceilings, and cement floors (thankfully heated on colder nights). Details are steadfastly local, from toile wallpaper that evokes the cityscape to the small-batch brews in the mini-bars. Downstairs at Reynard restaurant, the tattooed staff serves farm-to-table dishes, but if it’s the hipster scene you’ve come for, the Ides rooftop bar will deliver in spades.
Located discreetly behind red metal gates in what at first glance appears to be a furniture shop, this beer bar has one of the neighborhood’s most extensive lists of craft beer on tap, in bottles and in a few casks that rotate out regularly. In cooler months, the indoor space has a great mid-century modern vibe but in the summer head to the leafy backyard to drink al fresco. Drinks for two $10.