NFT New York Fort Greene / Clinton Hill

Fort Greene / Clinton Hill

Fort Greene could be the perfect outer borough neighborhood: the population is diverse, it's close to Manhattan, it's got a stellar park, tons of restaurants, a farmer's market, the hippest swap meet on the planet, beautiful tree-and brownstone-lined streets, historic buildings, subway and LIRR access, and a world-class performing arts center. Unfortunately, many people already know this, so rents are increasingly high, but the area still retains a homey, community vibe.

Fort Greene's landmarks run the gamut from religious to cultural to economic to civic to military. Check out the Underground Railroad murals at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. In addition to templing Masons, the Brooklyn Masonic Temple also hosts indie concerts. The See more.

>Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has two live performance spaces, movie theaters, a cafe (which hosts free shows), plus the "Next Wave" festival of dance, opera, music, and theater. (Also, the Mark Morris Dance Center is just down the block.) The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building is one of the tallest structures in Brooklyn and has now been converted to condos. The Brooklyn Navy Yard now houses businesses as well as Steiner Studios. Shoppers and those who need the soul-sucking DMV flock to the hulking, commercial Atlantic Terminal Mall, which sits above a massive Long Island Railroad Station.

On weekends, hilly Fort Greene Park is rollicking with a greenmarket, playgrounds, cricket, soccer, and local community groups. Just a few blocks away, Brooklyn Flea is a major shopping (and eating!) destination, complete with tons of Etsy-type crafts vendors and enough food to fill up a year's worth of blog entries.

But that's only half the story, because Fort Greene's "sister" neighborhood, Clinton Hill, has a lot going for it, namely a proximity to the amenities of Fort Greene with fewer crowds. Clinton Hill hosts bucolic St. Joseph's College and the Pratt Institute, whose grounds are home to both sculpture art and a Power Plant. Several historic churches also dot the Clinton Hill landscape, which is filled with beautiful brownstones as well as some massive single-family homes on Washington Street.

Clinton Hill is home to an African community that has set up a number of restaurants and shops in the neighborhood, and it's also home to a whole row of artist's studios on Lexington Avenue. And film shoots--that peculiar New York City metric of neighborhood self-worth--are a regular occurrence in Clinton Hill. As if that weren't enough, you know Clinton Hill has clearly arrived when local coffee/food nexus Choice Market had its BLT profiled by Food Network.

Frank's, Alibi, and Stonehome are all great places to grab a drink before or after a movie at BAM Rose Cinemas or a performance at the Masonic Temple. Hanson Dry focuses on cocktails. Farther afield, The Fulton Grand is a nice option.

It's all here, folks: Italian (Locanda and Scopello), French (Chez Oskar), BBQ (Smoke Joint), tapas (Olea), hip (General Greene and No. 7), Middle Eastern (Black Iris), Mexican (Castro's), burgers (67 Burger), and a reliable greasy spoon diner (Mike's Coffee Shop). Full yet?

Hit either Greene Grape Provisions or Choice Greene for gourmet groceries to go with that nice bottle of wine from Olivino, Gnarly Vines, or Thirst. Pick up books at Greenlight Books, mid-century antiques at Yu Interiors, and everything else at Target. Watch for the occasional artsy bazaar outside of BAM.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Meaningful Voyages

By Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
If there's one thing Rebecca knows, it's needless, interminable perambulating. Possessions will be mugged, blood will be spilled. Still, Rebecca soldiers on--from her humble Polish hood to the western tip of Long Island; her heart asunder, her mind a-scattered. Come! Join Rebecca on this gut-wrenching journey through the heart of Brooklyn, but also the mind.

Chicago 'L'

By Mark F. Armstrong
And you thought it was just a rapid transit system! Chicago's sometimes elevated tracking is as infamous as it is reliable. Find out why in this, Mark Armstrong's no-holds-barred expose on the popular Chicago transport alternative to driving and walking fast.

Breaking into Non-Profit Arts

By Liz Pink
Young, talented, poor and striving. Artists are a mysterious lot. Will they make it, or will we wipe our hands of them, devilishly and unforgivingly. J/K. Liz Pink offers truckloads of making-it-in-the-big-city advice that only a very rich or successful artist could pass up. Join her.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Rob Tallia

Brooklyn Masonic Temple
The Brooklyn Masonic Temple just has so much going for it - filming location for Boardwalk Empire, backdrop to the weekly Fort Greene Flea, site of the occasional killer concert, and - of course - lots and lots of Masons! But it's the concert series, curated by Masonic Boom, that really gets us. It's only a handful of shows a year, but what a history--Jose Gonzales, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Cat Power, Queens of the Stone Age, Big Star--the list goes on. Who knew Masons could rock out? Probably our founding fathers. Photo by Awlbutler/

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Lulu & Po
This is one of my favorite places to send people--lots of fun small plates to share, including such delicacies as bone marrow tacos and chicken liver pate with bread so delicious it’s got to be from Sullivan Street Bakery (actually it's from Il Forno in The Bronx). It’s also a great post-BAM venue, as it’s far enough away that most people won’t know it exists. Only one beer is available at the moment…let’s hope they up their game in that area!

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of Village Voice

Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building
We hate to say it, but fall is right around the corner. The days of five hour picnics will be over, but the days of long marathon drinking events indoors will just be getting underway. That means perfect timing for Brooklyn Pour, a new beer event from the fine folks at the Village Voice. Brooklyn Pour will keep in the true form as its sister tasting event, Choice Eats, by curating local beers unique to New York City, mixed with a portfolio of beers from the East Coast craft beer community all under one roof for one afternoon. Featuring dozens of great beer companies like Saranac, Captain Lawrence, and Kelso, beer geeks will be in beer heaven. The event will take place at Skylight One Hanson in the historic Williamsburg Savings Bank, the tallest building in the borough. It will be "a unique beer tasting event for both the beer connoisseur and those just diving into the world of craft brews." Sounds perfect to us. So let the cold weather begin and the beer drinking begin. Get your tickets here.

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

Umi Nom
For an Asian cuisine newbie like me, Umi Nom looked like a fair introduction to fusion. Tucked under a rusty LAUNDROMAT sign, Umi Nom brings tapas-style Filipino meals to Bed-Stuy. It's a perfect spot to have group dinners as their menu offers a number of yummy plates to share like crispy wings, marinated grilled pork chops, everyone's favorite pad thai, and bbq ribs. Here, you'll need to make extra room for drinks and desserts as well.

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Clay Williams

Nothing says an afternoon sugar rush like taking a bite out of one of Dough's donuts. Giving a whole new meaning to sticky fingers, these donuts are about the size of your head and fuel those sweet tooth cravings just by looks alone. I often come here on weekend afternoons to indulge in a selfish summer time snack, so far I've learned that arriving just before closing (4 pm) scores you some free extra donuts and sitting time with the owner. I highly recommend ordering a tasting plate of whichever donuts are that day's special but nothing beats some classic glazed ones and an iced coffee!

Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Clay Williams

One Last Shag
The neighborhood classes it up albeit with kitschy style and party remnants on the ceiling, a tiki beach bar in the back patio, and cheap but heavy duty drinks running all night. It's a good midday stop on weekends where young people meet up over cigs and beer to catch up on last night's festivities. At night this place gets packed with the young ones looking to have a good time. Bartenders are friendly but don't get it twisted, judgements will be thrown if you order a lame drink. Cheers!

Posted By:  Dawn Hoffman
Photo:  Dawn Hoffman

There's a new donut shop in Brooklyn to finally give Peter Pan a run for its money. Located off a slightly derelict strip of Lafayette Avenue, Dough sells an assortment of fresh, gourmet donuts all priced between $2 to $3.50 (ok, Peter Pan wins the affordable contest hands down). The Clinton Hill newcomer, owned by the team behind Choice Markets, offers both basic (plain glazed, chocolate cream) and exotic (hibiscus, blood orange topped with candied oranges) donuts. Inside, the bakery is simple, almost austere, with a single case displaying the rows of baked goodness. The bakery's kitchen, located in the front of the store and surrounded by glass, allows both patrons and passer-bys to watch/drool over the Dough staff busy at work. The Nutella cream donut is as heavenly as it sounds. The cheesecake with graham cracker is decadent without being too rich. Same goes for the dulce de leche with almonds which is so restrained in its flavors it could almost be mistaken for a plain glazed donut. Beverages are limited to coffee, loose-leaf tea, and hot chocolate (which pairs nicely with Dough's mini cinnamon donuts). Donuts are replenished throughout the day, but for the best selection go at an off-peak time.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Yu Interiors
You probably don't have the money for this store, but...I want to write about it anyway, since I walked by it without ever going in for 3 years, which was foolish, since I'm one of those people that likes to look at cool furnishings even though I can't afford cool furnishings (everything in my house that people comment on is on loan from my father-in-law; I shall not complain that I don't own it, however). What's especially nice about Yu Interiors is that it seems as if everything they've chosen to display has been selected with uber-care, since I went around saying "I'd buy that," "I'd buy that," "I'd buy that," in my head (because I didn't want to give the proprietor the false sense of being ACTUALLY able to buy that, or that, or that). As with all good antique stores, the stuff you think is very cool (like the corrugated table lamps pictured) tends to sell pretty quickly, so if you do see something you like (and have the cash to purchase it), don't dither, because it most likely won't be there when you go back. And really, can there be anything worse than not getting those cool $400 table lamps you saw? Well, maybe one or two things...

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Dolores Deli Grocery
Went in to this unassuming grocery to grab a bottle of water one Saturday afternoon. Saw what looked like trays of excellent food to my left. Went back outside, grabbed wife (expert on West Indian food), asked her what she thought. Wife excited. Roast Pork, Curry Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Sausage...and perfect-looking concon (Dominican crusty rice) in a bowl. Ordered two small platters to go, one of the pork, one of the curry chicken. $7. Total. Went home. Ate it. Loved it. Have gone back. Have found all the cab drivers in Fort Greene eat here for lunch every day. Have found they have a special every day. Have had the goat recommended to me. Will try the goat. Have gone back once already for more roast pork and concon. Life: good.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Greenlight Bookstore
Great neighborhoods deserve great bookstores. And with the opening last fall of Greenlight Bookstore, Fort Greene gets what it deserves--a great bookstore. With a feel similar to Flatiron's fabulous Idlewild, Greenlight stocks a well-curated selection of classics, children's books, New York-centric books, art and design books, and, of course, the ever-so-fashionable Not For Tourists Guide to Brooklyn. We certainly wish Greenlight all the best and we'll no doubt be trying to open a corporate account there. Nothing beats browsing in an actual bookstore, my friends. Well...maybe eating a Choice BLT while browsing in an actual bookstore...

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Now that everyone has taken the time to eulogize Bonita, the former occupant of the space now called Roman's, we can all move forward and simply focus on what Roman's is doing, which is bring stellar New American with a handwritten menu every night to wealthy and/or credit-worthy Fort Greeners, in a space somewhat reminiscent of Vinegar Hill House's old-timey vibe, with a similar short but delectable ever-changing menu of goodness, including meats, fish, and top-notch pasta, all for our gustatory pleasure, and with the bonus that it's a five-minute walk afterwards to lovely Fort Greene Park, which will be even lovelier once this stinking fuck-all of a winter finally ends. Exeunt.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Brooklyn Public House
Finding a good bar in Fort Greene isn't the hardest thing to do, as Alibi, Rope, Moe's, and Frank's Lounge are all perfectly excellent options, depending on mood. Finding a bar that also serves good pub grub, and has Belhaven Stout on tap, along with 23 other beers, is a bit harder. And finding one that serves this pub grub until 2 am was impossible--until now. Thank you, thank you, Brooklyn Public House, and as I am moving within 2 blocks of your fine establishment within 60 days, please don't do a bunk and leave in the interim. I have many more Belhavens to drink, and many more burgers to eat. And many more credit cards to tap out.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Brooklyn Flea
Since large, shiny electronic things are not normally a feature of flea markets, I'm generally not that interested in them. But for the first year of its existence, the Brooklyn Flea every Saturday in Fort Greene was a pleasant enough place to buy stuff you don't need from local artists and other merchants. Now, however, there is a very good pupusa stand (a food item that I love so much, I wrote a poem about it), and there is an absolutely amazing pizza option called Pizza Moto, by a local genius named Dave Sclarow, who built his own mobile wood-burning pizza oven. Easily worth the half-hour wait at lunch time here at the flea market.

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Molly Riordan

Bittersweet is a purveyor of things that will make you (or at least me) briefly, blissfully happy: coffee, ice cream, baked goods, and the color yellow. The tiny coffeeshop kitty-corner from Fort Greene Park has been pulling shots and churning frozen deliciousness for a couple years to the delight of park-goers and Pratt students alike. The shop is packed on Saturdays when the Farmer's Market is underway across the street, and generally humming as people linger at the handful of tables nibbling Balthazar scones and sipping well-frothed espresso drinks. The "sweet" part can be specifically attributed to its homemade ice cream--even the Times deemed the reappearance of its famed Jamaican Grapenut flavor a newsworthy event. In the less ice cream-friendly autumn, Bittersweet's unflappable baristas steam up hot apple ciders and take orders for holiday baked goods. Visible by the dogs tied up outside and the aforementioned happy-hue within, not even yours truly can be bitter about Bittersweet.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

No. 7
You enter by squeezing past the subway entrance which is literally directly outside your door; already, No. 7 is a pretty unique place (and yes, dear readers, DO send us photos of all the other restaurants that are directly behind a subway entrance). The first thing you see is a cool bar, then a small lounge area whose windows directly look out on to people coming up from/going down into the C at Lafayette. Then tables behind, in a similarly cool space. And then there is the food, which is simply brilliant; No. 7 easily catapults itself to the top of the Fort Greene restaurant scene with its inventive choices--especially the completely one-of-a-kind Fried Soft Boiled Egg topped with Caviar (pictured). God knows how many of these I could eat; I hope I'm never depressed enough to find out. The cold shrimp salad with jalapeno has a great kick to it; the scallops are cooked perfectly, and, of course, there is steak, with kimchi pierogies. Next up: going to try the fried chicken at brunch. We'll see if No. 7 still bats a thousand...

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

One Last Shag
As my friend and I were sitting out on the patio drinking last Saturday night, I witnessed something at Sweet Revenge that I've never seen before and will probably never see again: a full-on hipster fight, complete with knockdowns, spilled beers, broken glass, and, of course, ejections. The bar staff was mortified, to say the least, as the vibe here is laid-back, with great tunes grooving via a DJ most nights, a grill for use by patrons, some of my favorite wallpaper ever, and, of course, that super back patio. So let's chalk the fight up to post-economic crash tensions and not sweat it. But why can't we all just get along?

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

The General Greene
Yes, General Greene, we do salute you, and we do not salute for just anyone, in fact almost no one, but you are indeed salute-able, as everything we've tried here--and we've tried a bunch of things, as you are a subscriber to the "small plate" theory--has been excellent, even though we have not yet tried the candied bacon, as we are on some semblance of a diet and we have not yet found a diet that calls for candied bacon as part of its daily intake (though we will most assuredly keep looking, dear General Greene, you can trust us on that one), everything else has been quite good, especially the roasted cauliflower of which which my wife actually made quite a good version after being inspired by eating yours, again no small compliment to you, dear General, for making us aspire to do something other than simply going out to restaurants every single blessed night of the week, either way, we will see you again and best of luck; we promise to come again soon.

Posted By:  Stuart Farr
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Choice Greene
Last year I wrote that all this neighborhood was missing was a rock club and a cheese shop; well, one down, one to go, thanks to Choice Market's Thierry Cabigeos. Choice Greene, his second of four planned ventures, is stocked with a great cheese counter, fresh Il Forno breads, cured meats, organic produce, and an excellent fish counter run by a former Blue Ribbon Sushi chef. If they are missing anything you want, they're still taking suggestions--heat lamps for the great patio behind the shop? I guess we'll just wait for Spring on that one. In the meantime, go grab some prosciutto, gruyere, and a baguette and make lunch like Parisians do. Now stay tuned for Choice Atlantic, where Thierry will do all the baking (and hopefully sell through the night).

Posted By:  Andy Heidel
Photo:  Andy Heidel

The Smoke Joint
I decided to live high on the hog and enjoy one of my favorite BBQ delicacies, the pulled pork sandwich with a side of beans and see how the competition matched up. Jakes on the Columbia waterfront is usually my go-to guy for BBQ delivery but he let me down this time. The pork was dry which is just inexcusable. (PPS $8.95, SOB $3.95). Sorry Jakes, ain't goin' back. In fact, I tossed out your menu. So I stumbled over to The Smoke Joint in Fort Greene to try out their fare (PPS $7, SOB $3). The sammy was decent but I found the beans lacking. Beware the can of Porkslap beer. You will be tempted but do not order one. Next time though, I'll get the beef short rib which I hear is amazing. The best deal is Bar BQ in the South Slope. On Monday's they do free bourbon and $2 Blue Point pints from 7-9:00pm with live music. (PPS w/ SOB $9.00). You have your choice of Carolina Vinegar or Sweet BBQ sauce and they concoct their own batches of hot sauce. Damn tasty (and drunk) times!

Posted By:  Alex Steed
Photo:  Alex Steed

Caribbean Soul
A friend who is addicted--quite literally--to Soule ended up getting me hooked as well. Fortunately for my waistline our habits are incongruent; he indulges four times a week and I only go once or twice tops. I understand, however, how this illness got to him. The food, a mix of Southern and Caribbean, is hearty, tasty, and inexpensive (a take-out plate, which would be more appropriately described as a platter, goes for just over ten dollars). While there is a lot of meat-based fare, vegetarians can also find a good deal of meat-free options to love, like the savory fake barbecue chicken! Be sure to give sides like mac and cheese and fried bammy a try. Soule has a vicious way of sneaking into your consciousness and sticking around until you pick up the phone and place an order.

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