NFT New York Williamsburg


You've probably already made up your mind about Williamsburg, but let's be honest, there is always something that brings you back to this hipsturbia on the river. Are the throngs of younguns "struggling" to make rent eight times the national median obnoxious? Sure. Is your mind blown by three-hour waits at ineffectually staffed no-reservation restaurants that sell "appetizers" like "bread and butter"? Whose isn't? But do a handful of blocks around Bedford and North 7th have enough excellent restaurants, unique shops, live music, bowling alleys, enviable parks, real bookstores, and record stores for God's sake to make the rest of us schmos salivate at what our own neighborhoods can't possibly offer? Sadly, yes. Which is when you find yourself squeezing onto the L or the B62 with everyone else who knows the same to be true.

The hulking steel towers of the Williamsburg Bridge (1903), long before the L came to be, connected the working class neighborhoods of Brooklyn with jobs in Manhattan. Before the bridge there was the Grand Street Ferry, which departed from the end of Grand Street. That spot is now taken up by the scrappy and pleasant See more.

>Grand Ferry Park, which was one of the few parcels of waterfront open to the public during the area's industrial heyday.

The East River of today bears the fruit of Bloomberg-era rezoning in the form of gleaming high-rise rentals and condos and a manicured waterfront. East River State Park, reclaimed from the weeds and still slightly rustic around the edges, is a sunny, sometimes a little too sunny, spot along the river. On summer weekends, the park hosts all manner of fairs and events. Even after the tents and tables are gone, however, East River State Park is definitely worth a weekly trip; the picnic tables at the river's edge are one of the best spots in Brooklyn to gawk at that gorgeous skyline and a killer sunset. A few blocks away is Brooklyn Brewery. Brooklyn branded long before Brooklyn was a brand, only a small portion of its beer is actually brewed on site (the bottles, for example, come from Utica), though this spiritual home has anchored Williamsburg's identity since the late 1990s.

Just down the street from Brooklyn Brewery at the northern end of Williamsburg sits McCarren Park, with its 35 acres of ball fields, dog runs, and gardens where residents of every stripe convene when the sun is out. Although not the nicest looking park in the city, or even the neighborhood, there's an anarchic spirit to the park that's hard to resist, from the infantilizing children's games being played by aging cool hunters to the pick-up softball, basketball and soccer on dirt patches and concrete fields to the steady stream of low-key craft-film-food-music events that fill up the weekend docket during the summer; it's a park that is well used and not fussed over, unlike some of the bigger, newer, "nicer" parks. McCarren Pool, shuttered for decades, reopened as an actual pool and recreation center in 2012, and as such is a state-of-the-art year-round facility.

Stretching south from McCarren Park is Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg's main thoroughfare, full of shops, bars, boutiques and activity. The Bedford Avenue L station at North 7th Street functions as a sort of millennial wave pool, casting shoals of young people into the hip thick as frequently as communications-based train control can allow. Williamsburg's excesses ease the farther south and east you move from here. Along Metropolitan Avenue to the south is City Reliquary, a clever little (literally little) museum filled with New York City artifacts and historical tidbits, and a great way to connect with pre-gentrified Williamsburg. The south side of Williamsburg, especially south of Broadway, where stately Peter Luger has served steak since 1887, is one of the city's largest and most established Hasidic neighborhoods. During the Bloomberg era the issue of bike lanes along Bedford Avenue became controversial when members of the Hasidic community objected to the idea of supposedly scantily clad (or at least less clad than they're used to) cyclists riding through their neighborhood.

The legendary Knitting Factory, relocated from TriBeCa, symbolizes the shift away from Manhattan in the New York City music scene, joining Music Hall and Pete's Candy Store in a target-rich environment. Even Brooklyn Bowl has a stage. After the show, head to Spuyten-Duyvil or Radegast for beers, The Richardson for a proper cocktail, or Barcade for 8-bit goodness.

For low-key, go for hipster fusion at Snacky. That said, don't miss the dressed-up American spots: Walter Foods, Rye, and the more casual DuMont. For brunch (and believe us, we hesitate recommending brunch to anyone), Pates et Traditions has mouth-watering savory and sweet crepes. Carnivores must pay respects to Fette Sau and Peter Luger. If Luger didn't empty your bank account, Zenkichi is another special dining experience.

The Federal Bar is an import from LA featuring high-concept comfort cuisine. Lilia has been wowing diners with its elegant Italian in a former auto-body shop. Meanwhile, Llama Inn highlights Peruvian food's true culinary qualities, and features the sort of haute deliciousness you might find in Miraflores. And MP Taverna is Michael Psilakis' fantastic rendition of a classic Greek taverna.

Beacon's Closet and Buffalo Exchange require some stamina, but they're worth it; Amarcord's nicely edited vintage selection is the antidote. Vinyl collectors geek out within blocks of the Bedford stop at Academy, Rough Trade, and Earwax, while foodsters find gadgets at Whisk and Brooklyn Kitchen. Marlow & Daughters's locally sourced, quality (i.e., expensive) meat is paired with helpful advice. Bedford Cheese Shop and UVA Wines also have similarly knowledgeable staffs and selection.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
The BQE: Not Just For Traffic

By Sarah Enelow
What's underneath the BQE, besides an entire society of filthy pigeons? North Brooklyn's tastiest risotto balls, modern art, karate, and a lot more. Come with NFT Editor Sarah Enelow as she finds East Williamsburg's choice attractions along the expressway.
Living on a Budget in NYC

By Diana Bocco
The living is easy when you have lots of money. And that's why we need Diana Bocco to tell us to shop at the Greenmarket and patronize the free-for-all furniture store of the street. After all, what is living if not suffering; drinking if not free sampling? Nothing. It is nothing if not that.

Hookin’ Up on the InterWeb

By Andrew Spaulding
Short-circuit the masses. Go online.

At Three Miles an Hour

By Emily Pecora
A primal, masochistic band of urban hikers stalk the bridges of NYC at the crack of dawn on weekend mornings guided only by their beating hearts, gruff behaviors and rugged silence. These are the Shorewalkers, and they take no prisoners. Be it freezing, torrid or in any other capacity uncomfortable, they soldier on interminably. Jump on or fuck off.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

McCarren Park Pool
McCarren Pool is a pool again! A giant, free, clean, attractive one. In true New York fashion, the pool opened last month to widespread excitement, huge crowds, lines around the block, violence, and several arrests. TV news vans were parked outside for a while, but as always in this city, the newest thing quickly became old, and now it appears to be just a normal pool with incredibly vigilant security. Not only does it have a section for swimming laps, but it offers a sandy volleyball court, indoor gym, and other community spaces. The facility also incorporates wood panels recycled from the historic Coney Island boardwalk. A creation of Robert Moses, McCarren Pool was originally constructed in 1936 with WPA funds, but was closed down in 1983. For a few years it was a music venue and now, like it or not, it's a pool again. Go enjoy it, and keep an eye out, there's a possibility the pool will become an ice skating rink in the winter.

Posted By:  Holly Alderman
Photo:  Holly Alderman

Beer Street
Amidst the rapid development of Williamsburg's Graham Avenue, Beer Street is a tiny treasure for the craft beer lover. If you're not looking, Beer Street's long, narrow storefront could go unnoticed, but once you spot its little wooden sign, you'll be happy you stepped inside. The store is small and unassuming, complete with Williamsburg's requisite tin ceilings and rustic wood features. Sliced-in-half kegs are display cases for microbrews from all corners of the world. Beer Street is equipped for the true beer connoisseur--in addition to its full bottle selection, its shelves boast an array of glassware to drink your brews in style as well as 10 rotating taps for growler fills. Pressure gauges on the taps add to the authenticity and homey nature of the shop. Find the daily draft lists online or on the in-store chalkboard from which you choose to fill 64, 32, or 16 oz growlers printed with Beer Street's simple logo. While for now you should check out Williamsburg's newest beer store for bottles, glasses, and a growler or two, Beer Street will soon house its own home brewing operation, which is sure to fill the store with sights, smells, and sounds you won't want to miss. For the beer loving New Yorker, Beer Street is a must. Just make sure you look out for the sign!

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Union Pool
In Williamsburg under the elevated BQE, there's typically nothing but parking spaces, pigeons, and trash, but not during Kustom Kills & Hot Rod Thrills. This down-and-dirty car show is put on by The Rumblers every August, and though I never remember when it's happening until I find myself in its midst, it's always a welcome diversion. I was told that any of these classic cars could be bought for the right price, but there's no harm in just admiring, photographing, and checking out the music at nearby Union Pool. This was the show's 11th year and, though it got busted up by the cops over some kind of disturbance, next year should be just as impressive.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Somewhere along the way, eating brunch out became New York's biggest disappointment. A 45-minute wait to pay $10 for eggs is bad enough, but as Anthony Bourdain points out in Kitchen Confidential, anything else on the brunch menu is probably re-purposed leftovers from Friday and Saturday nights, the meals that chefs actually care about (Sunday seems to be the last chance before things go bad and get tossed out). If you're ready to make brunch yourself, try getting your produce at Tops in Williamsburg. These days their produce section is extensive and fresh, especially compared to a typical bodega where three lonely squashes rot before your eyes. Their prices for fruits and vegetables are pretty good, so let the seasonal offerings inspire your menu.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

San Marco Pizzeria
It's time for another review of an Italian Williamsburg relic. San Marco Pizzeria has been serving the neighborhood since 1969. With the trend these days being wood-fired pies, those looking for an old-school Brooklyn pizzeria will not be disappointed. The pizzas are what you would expect; thin, foldable, and fresh from a gas oven. The regular slice alone is a testament to the format, reminding the eater what makes New York pizza so perfect. Those who enjoy Sicilian style pizza will die for San Marco's hearty grandma slice. Pasta and heros are also available, as well as a few different Italian entrees. Where San Marco really goes above and beyond is their espresso and cappuccinos. A beautiful Italian espresso machine sits in the window at the end of the counter, which is artfully operated by the server. The table room is sparse, but there is a lunch counter that is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice on a nice afternoon. Bonus tip: Open early and right across from the Lorimer L stop for those about to make the commute.

Posted By:  Sara Kim
Photo:  Sara Kim

Pies 'N' Thighs
My brother lives in Williamsburg and insisted we go here for brunch. As a born Southerner, I get regular fried chicken cravings, and this particular Saturday happened to be one of them. My brother, his girlfriend, and I shared chicken biscuits (which come drizzled with hot sauce), huevos rancheros, chicken breasts, eggs and homefries, and a black-eyed pea salad. Aside from the fried bird, the black-eyed pea salad was definitely my favorite thing on the table. It's got a vinegar kick but is tangy at the same time. We were afraid to push ourselves over the cliff and top it off with donuts, so we'll have to come back for those fatty fats some other time.

Posted By:  Dawn Hoffman
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Fred Flare
Need a last minute birthday gift? Fred Flare, online purveyor of all things quirky, has a storefront in Greenpoint. A favorite of magazine editors, those unfamiliar with the playful website will probably recognize some of the online shop's more ubiquitous items like heart-shaped sunglasses (a la Lolita), French toast stamps, and the hamburger phone from Juno. Although the brick and mortar location doesn't carry everything sold online, most of the top sellers are there. Slightly more conventional items like vegan cookbooks, Diana cameras, and Crosley turntables can be found among the Titantic ice cube trays and yellow submarine tea dispensers. The store's small women's section is equally as cheerful with floral sundresses, colorful trenches, and studded clutches. Expect to find more than a few items involving mustaches or bacon--this is Brooklyn after all.

Posted By:  Dawn Hoffman
Photo:  Dawn Hoffman

10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas
While most vintage stores pride themselves on being carefully curated, few carry it out with the precision and dedication of 10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas. Tucked under the BQE, a short walk from the Lorimer L stop, the Williamsburg store is a bohemian bazaar filled with flannel shirts, lace-up boots, and a massive selection of Converse. Unlike other vintage stores which often jumble retro items with newer designer pieces, 10 Ft. Single sticks firmly to its '70s glam, rock star aesthetic--think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. Faux fur leopard coats for women and brightly colored vests for men dominate the racks in the winter while concert-ready gear such as airy sundresses, denim cut-offs, and ironic tees take over in the warmer months. The back of the store offers older, slightly pricier pieces such as riding boots, military coats, fur hats, and slips from the 1940s. Prices are surprisingly accessible with most items falling in the $35 to $75 range. If nothing else, the store's collection of iconic concert tees from the '70s and '80s is worth a visit.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Foodswings is a vegan's vegan restaurant. By that I mean it may slightly alienate the unconverted. You like a little cheese in your veggie diet? Don't go here. But for the ultimate in vegan comfort food (translation: fried to the max) get the Pu Pu Platter, which includes one of every type of "wing" (a TVP wing with wooden "bone"), faux fish sticks, and mock chicken nuggets. Lovers of fake meat rejoice, Foodswings offers fare that will fill vegans with nostalgic flesh memories. Only gripe is the sometimes indifferent attitude of staff.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Tacos Morelos
Tacos Morelos knows what a great taco truck should be. Inexpensive, fresh ingredients quickly assembled into powerful, flavorful food. Like any great taco truck, it is decidedly un-fancy and rudimentary, letting the full flavor of the food do the talking. Street eats, which is rooted in a philosophy of quick and accessible grub for workers, doesn't need to be over-thought. Tacos are served double wrapped with lime, before your eyes. The tortas are particularly delicious. Most dishes can be made with chorizo, carnitas, pollo, goat, or vegetariano (that means no meat, gringo). If you are looking for a great burrito in North Brooklyn look no further. A great burrito, of course, is one that takes two hands to eat, proportionate ratio of ingredients and is always on the brink of collapse. Located at North 7th and Bedford--the heart of Williamsburg--Tacos Morelos competes with the big boys. If you are in the 'hood and it is great Mexican you seek, go here. You won't be disappointed. Not to be confused with the East Williamsburg 24-hour joint, Grand Morelos.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Endless Summer
What's two of the best words in the English language on a late weekend night? You guessed correctly: Taco Truck. This late night food van dutifully collects and feeds the hungry nightlife of Williamsburg's Bedford Avenue. Although I wouldn't eat here during the day (when my mind is set on amazing tacos), Endless Summer serves as a late night necessity: food that tastes great after a few (dozen) drinks. It beats the hell out of a bodega snack and always hits the spot at 3 am. But if it's taco Nirvana you seek, don't expect enlightenment at this truck. Just expect good grub to stave off your oncoming hangover.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Record Grouch
Grouches only! Record Grouch is ground zero for curmudgeonly crate flippers with permanent hunchbacks and impaired vision from searching for sides. But the search is never fruitless here. The all-used stock is a vast collection of jazz (from hard bop to experimental), funk, soul, classic rock, and psych, as well as all things punk. I can't emphasize how well curated their selection is. The basement storefront is an ever-replenishing stock of desert island records. I should note that you have to walk through Old Made Vintage to access the stairs that lead down to the grouch's den.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Napoli Bakery
For all you authenticity hunters, the search for old-school Italian bakeries ends here. Napoli Bakery is one of the last holdouts in Italian Williamsburg, and luckily for us, it's still going strong. This place is a living relic of a quickly changing neighborhood. It truly feels like the old country with beautiful rustic and wood fired breads adorning the window, old timers sitting outside drinking espresso, and an inviting aroma that simply says "benvenuto!" Not only does Napoli provide incredible, comforting breads, but it serves as a small Italian grocery for the community.  Get a delicious tomato pie with a San Pellegrino water for a magnificent snack as you take a walk down Williamsburg's memory lane.

Posted By:  Georgia Lawson
Photo:  Georgia Lawson

Beacon's Closet
Beacon's Closet is a sweet clothing shop that won't break the bank. Shoes, dresses, tops, jackets in every color, style, shape, and size--a little overwhelming so go prepared. Be well rested (never on a hangover) and determined to sift through rail and rails. It's everything a vintage store should be with old music playing on the sound system and stylish shop assistants at the check out counter. Interestingly the clientele is varied from the more practical shoppers looking for a new pair of (dated) jeans at a good price to the more predictable trendy Williamsburg  shoppers (hip, arty types) looking for an original. The store accommodates for both men and women and has two locations in Brooklyn.

Posted By:  Austin Brown
Photo:  Austin Brown

Upping the ante on food trucks of the past, Goods' seasonal, ever changing menu is available for to-go orders direct from the kitchen, or step inside to their patio for table service and comfortable seating. Menu tends to be Southern and comfortable with a Cajun emphasis, and the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich is a staple which comes highly recommended. No need to book a flight to New Orleans, just jump on the L or G Train (if it ever comes). Or don't even leave your apartment--they offer free delivery.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Academy Records Annex
When climbing rent rates force Williamsburg dwellers to part with their prized records, the Academy Records Annex is there to sell them back to you. Boasting an ever replenishing stock of used records, Academy is the last hold out for avoiding the "straight to eBay" collector panic. An actual bricks and mortar store in a nice change in the world of vinyl. Here you will find everything from collector's gold and unassuming gems to new titles and phono supplies. In a surprising twist of fate, the clerks are as friendly as the shop cat.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Champs Family Bakery
Newly opened Champs Family Bakery is a diamond in the rough. The name is painted handsomely on their windows in the classic style that fits perfectly in the heart of Italian Williamsburg. The 100% vegan fare ranges from cookies, scones, and pastries to whoopie pies, cupcakes, and, of course, the classic black and white cookies. They even do whole cakes. Trust us, vegan never tasted so good. Coming from the pedigree of the always delicious Boneshaker's, this comes as no surprise. Only drawback: The interior could use a little upgrade. Their stellar baked goods are worth a truly unique and inviting space.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Williamsburg is crawling with mediocre bars and music venues, but Zebulon smoothly rises above the din. Run by the same people responsible for the lovely East Village bistro Casimir, Zebulon is an ideal spot to chill out with a cocktail or a small bite to eat. It has a natural, cozy French vibe with great décor and video art in the background; note the huge window opening onto Wythe for guaranteed fresh air and people watching. Zebulon also has music practically every night of the week ranging from singer-songwriters to funky, eclectic grooves from around the world, all for no cover. I suggest swinging by during off-peak hours, but if you go late on Friday or Saturday night, be prepared for crowds.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

East River State Park
Many New Yorkers are consumed with dread when trudging around midtown, yet it always looks so beautiful from a distance. Thankfully, the East River State Park in Williamsburg is one way to enjoy that iconic skyline without setting foot in Manhattan. This welcoming green space boasts many qualities: clean, spacious, ideal for picnics, family friendly, and if it didn't sadly close at dusk, it would be a romantic place to watch the sunset. Be prepared on sunny days as there's little in the way of shade and watch out for the occasional (adorable) waterfowl coming ashore. It's also perfect for out-of-town guests, allowing them to see a picturesque snapshot of the city without you guiding them through 42nd Street. The free outdoor concerts formerly at McCarren Park Pool now take place here, which means the park is overrun on those days, but it's still a delightful place to escape the grind.

Posted By:  Caroline Shadood
Photo:  Courtesy of Radish

Radish is a general store for the socially conscious foodie who is too lazy to always make their own lunch (yeah, we're looking at you NFT reader). It features seasonal prepared foods, artisanal beverages, and an intricate selection of locally sourced dry goods. This brand-spanking-new Bedford spot is teeming with culinary surprises, like their yarn-tied asparagus sandwich and signature strawberry basil hard candy. Gourmet yet simple fast food (without any of the implications), Radish is sure to become a mainstay for anyone looking for a quick, thoughtful bite en route to the park. So stock up on goodies and make this spot a daily ritual.

Powered By Subgurim( Maps ASP.NET

See Williamsburg...
Restaurants (120)
Nightlife (61)
Shopping (138)
Landmarks (16)