When it comes to travel I am the first to jump at the opportunity to explore a new destination. I’ll hike through remote villages, make impromptu decisions to visit a country, will hop on a train to a new city and go out of my way for the thrill of seeing a new place. When it comes to exploring New York City, admittedly, there are entire weeks where I don’t leave my neighborhood of Astoria. As of late, I’ve been making it a point to venture beyond Queens and Manhattan and discover new neighborhoods of New York. With its vibrant art scene and exciting cuisine, Bushwick is part of the city I have heard much about but had yet to explore. Recently, I joined fellow blogger and Bushwick native, Jessie Festa, for one of her photo tours of this exciting part of Brooklyn.
Where to Eat
Los Hermanos (271 Starr Street): Los Hermanos is a taqueria within a tortilla factory serving classic Mexican fare with freshly made wraps. If you think you know what fresh tortillas taste like, think again because the tacos at Los Hermanos will challenge your idea of what is considered good Mexican food. The tacos are true to form with cilantro, fresh lime and a choice of barbacoa, chicken or beef.
Dinner & a Movie at Syndicated Bar (40 Bogart St): Sometimes when you go to combination movie theater/bar/restaurant venues, one of the three elements is lacking—not so with Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen. This new Bushwick spot is equally popular for their movies, bar, and restaurant offerings. Gastropub fare for Brunch, lunch and dinner, along with beer and cocktails at the Art Deco bar perfectly complement the throwback movie-going experience (hand-drawn popcorn attendants and all). Food and libations are available inside the theater as well. Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen is the perfect place for a date night, breathing new life into “dinner and a movie.”
Roberta’s (261 Moore St): Roberta’s is a wood-fired oven pizza joint meets backyard tiki bar meets vegetable garden meets fine dining establishment. Serving up homey delicious yet innovative twists on Italian classics and killer pizzas, this restaurant put Bushwick on every foodie’s map. In the backyard, you’ll find a tiki bar, a garden where they grow their own vegetables, and Blanca, a separate 13-seat 2-star Michelin restaurant. Best to go early on the weekends for brunch (there’s typically no wait if you arrive by 11AM).
Gaby’s Bakery (238 Knickerbocker Ave ): Gaby’s Bakery is a no frills, no fuss Latin bakery that has been open for more than 18 years. Serving guava pastries, delicious cakes and other sweet treats, Gaby’s is a non-pretentious local haunt that promises quality baked goods.
Where to Grab a Drink
Hops & Hocks (2 Morgan Avenue): Bushwick is known for its German beer and was once the epicenter for breweries. In fact, today you can see abandoned breweries from when this neighborhood was a beer-making haven. Hops & Hocks is a German beer shop that offers complete $15 tastings that pairs brews with a selection of charcuterie.
Where to Grab Coffee & a Treat
Italo’s BK (895 Broadway): Italo’s a slice of Europe in the heart of Bushwick. The owner of Italo’s originally hails from Italy and brings his love for coffee and well made cappuccinos with him. The cafe doubles as an event space with an in-house gallery, atrium and patio where everything from yoga classes to special events can take place. At Italo’s the coffee is more than an afternoon fix, it’s a culture and the owners here have created a place where people can come, relax and take their time sipping a good drink.
Variety Coffee Roasters (146 Wyckoff Ave): Everyone knows that Williamsburg is ground zero for the hippest café culture in the city, but many popular spots are branching out into nearby Bushwick. Such is the case with Variety Coffee. After gaining a reputation as one of the top spots to grab French press into airpot brewed coffee, Variety decided to expand to include a roastery at this new, spacious location on Wyckoff Avenue. The reclaimed wood floors, custom wooden bar and chandeliers make this a great atmosphere for caffeinating and working (or people watch), while enjoying snacks from nearby Ovenly, and Ceci-Cela and Blue Sky Bakery.
Fine & Raw (288 Seigel Street): Fine & Raw is a chocolate factory where fresh chocolate is made on premise from raw ingredients. Fine & Raw crafts artisan confections using conscious ingredients and innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and robust flavor.
Bushwick’s Street Art
The Bushwick Collective: Located just off of Flushing Avenue, the Bushwick Collective is a living canvas with blocks and blocks of street art. While some naysayers may turn down their thumbs and cry out that graffiti is mere vandalism others feel differently about the artwork grazing the walls in Bushwick. The accidental curator of the collective is Joseph Ficalora, a Native of Bushwick and Brooklyn. In 1991, Joseph’s father, Ignazio Ficalora, was killed on the way home from the family steel fabrication business. He was murdered for a few dollars in his wallet and the gold chain he had around his neck. At the time Joseph was only twelve years old. A few years ago, in 2011, Joseph experienced another tragedy, the loss of his mother, who battled a brain tumor for four years. Joseph is now learning to heal from his years of growing up in a dirty and crime-ridden neighborhood by transforming the neighborhood and the walls of Bushwick into a safe & hip outdoor gallery.
Love the pictures in this post? They were taken fellow blogger and Bushwick local, Jessie Festa! To book one of her photo tours of Bushwick check out her site here. For more on what to see in Brooklyn, check out my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BROOKLYN.