Sometimes the best way to romanticize a place you call home is by taking it a day off, and spending every stolen hour like a spoiled child. In this series, I fantasize on how I’d spend a perfect day off, doing all of the everyday things I love without having to deal with the everyday responsibilities.
North Brooklyn is the Brooklyn I know best. Well, I suppose it’s the part of New York City I know best, since I live here. There’s no place I have spent more time solo and I still so enjoy it. It’s a comfortable and convenience place to be a home base. Separated by water from the chaos of the city, but still being a pretty active place with trendy shops and restaurants popping up every month. Sure, parts of Williamsburg seem to resemble Soho more and more these days, and the sidewalks of Greenpoint get crowded on warm weekends, but there are still pockets that feel remarkably like a neighborhood.
Everything I need is here. I have gotten to know these streets so well because I often spend days (and during pandemic times, weeks) not leaving the neighborhood, going only so far as my feet will take me, choosing to opt out of the subway and of Manhattan. Whether it’s running errands or taking myself on a walk, whether I have plans or a glaring lack of plans, there’s never a shortage of things to do without venturing far. So on a day off, on a lazy day off, sometimes, often, I choose to stay close. There are a dozens of ways I could do a day in the neighborhood, and my habits evolve with the seasons. But this is how I’d spend a day if I had tomorrow off.
north of broadway, west of bushwick, lots of muscle memory
All the best days start early and outside before the city wakes up. I love a morning walk to Domino Park. Earlier the better, the more peaceful. Sit for a bit and look over the city. Marvel at the fact you can hear birds at this hour. Maybe, if you’re feeling it, grab a coffee at Devocion (or even better, coffee and a pastry from Terms of Endearment or La Bicyclette) and read for a bit outside.
Time for breakfast. A day off isn’t a day off without a sit down breakfast. If I’m feeling sunny I would hit Gertie or For All Things Good. The cozy and luxurious option would be Okonomi. Or the classic and hearty option, Frankel’s by McCarren (you can walk off the carbs after).
for all things good
okonomi japanese breakfast (above)
frankel’s delicatessen (below)
The rest of the morning would be spent walking around. Start on the waterfront, wandering up along the river. Popping into the bookstores (from the Williamsburg McNally Jackson to Archestraus in Greenpoint), stationery stores like Hightide and Yoseka. Cater to creative tendencies.
acre is the perfect lunch & work spot (optional on the work)
yun hai is an obligatory stop if win son is on the menu for the day
Lunch is also a sit down affair, but casually. The easy choice would be Acre. Perhaps Reunion on a nice day, or a sandwich from Campbell Cheese and Grocery or Edith’s Eatery. Or Hanon on a cold day, or Di An Di. Win Son Bakery (with a stop into Yun Hai Shop) if you happen to be closer to the east side. Perhaps (if it’s a Friday and you feel particularly like treating yourself) grabbing a seat at the bar of The Four Horsemen.
Afternoons are always best spent shopping. Checking out the new stores that have opened, popping into the antique shops along Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, the go-to boutiques and thrift stores (Beacon’s Closet, Stella Davis), plant shops (Tula, Homecoming, Greenery Unlimited), home shops (Leif, Dobbin St, Mogutable). Wander from Greenpoint into North Williamsburg.
And of course stopping by a cafe to indulge in an afternoon pick me up because days off call for a 2 drink day. As You Like, PPL, Bakeri, Lion’s Milk, or Kettl.
If it’s a solo day, it’s time for some errands before the evening rush. Groceries, perhaps stopping by Tenichi for Japanese goods, Boisson for some nonalcoholic goods or perhaps Strangeways for wine, a Mr. Fruit for produce, the usual haunts.
If not, this is about when I would con a friend to come hang. Maybe grab a late coffee/tea or happy hour drink at Fresh Kills or Talea before dinner at The Four Horsemen. Or Bar Beau. Or Tabare. Or Oxomoco. And everyone will be home by 9pm and it’ll be beautiful.
For me, on a solo day, dinner will be take out that is brought home to be eaten in front of the TV. Because that is the best part about hanging in my own neighborhood. Being able to bring whatever I want home and eat in the comfort of my living room. If I’m being truly honest with myself it’ll probably be one of three places: Fan Fried Rice Bar, Birds of a Feather, or Noods n Chill. I’m a creature of habit. Or (particularly on a hot summer night) Osakana. And I will also stop by Fortunato Bros for dessert too to round out a perfectly leisurely, freeform day in the neighborhood.