Tired of Manhattan? Head to Red Hook, a laid-back neighbourhood in western Brooklyn that’s just far enough from the maddening crowds.
Here, a cool vibe seeps into some fun restaurants and bars and a handful of charming shops.
No trains go to Red Hook, so it can be a hassle to get there, which is how many locals like it. But take the trip by cab, water taxi, bike, or the B61 bus, and you won’t be disappointed.
We’ve rounded up our favourite spots to eat and drink, and take in the views in the waterfront neighbourhood.
318 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
A perfect dive and entry point to Red Hook, the Icehouse has a fun staff, a variety of beers, and good grub, including delicious pulled-pork sliders and just about perfect onion rings (the sweet-potato fries with chipotle mayo are good too).
While the bartenders play good tunes, you can play board games and watch pretty much any sporting event that's on TV. This place ain't fancy, which is how the locals like it. Bring cash, and try to snag a table in the beer garden out back.
359 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
Baked is a sweet spot not just for coffee and tea, but for some of the best muffins, cupcakes, and cookies in all of Brooklyn. If you can score a seat, it's a good place to take a load off and stare out the window at the passersby.
(Don't be surprised if you find yourself standing in line with Michelle Williams or Michael Shannon, both of whom live down the block.)
284 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
This place recently reopened after a major renovation, and it's better than ever. The live lobsters come straight from Maine, and they're delicious whole or in a roll.
There's a lot of good stuff on the menu, such as the Berkshire pork-and-bacon hot dog, hearty New England clam chowder, and lobster cheese fries. Definitely order the potato salad. Good beer selection, fun atmosphere. Come very hungry.
Louis Valentino Jr. Park, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
Gorgeous views of New York Harbour and the Statue of Liberty make this the most attractive spot in all of Red Hook. It's a charming little spot by day and a romantic waterfront scene by night. Colourful graffiti murals greet you as you walk into the park, which is perfect for meeting up with friends, having a picnic, or relaxing.
If you're up to it, you can go kayaking, or just stroll to the end of the pier for the cool breeze and some of the best sights in New York City.
185 Van Dyke St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
Feet from Valentino Pier is almost certainly the most delicious Key-lime pie you'll ever eat. Steve's is a family-owned business that takes pride in making each handmade creation the freshest it can be, and you can taste it (the graham-cracker crust, wow).
Take home a whole pie or eat a mini one at the shop. And if that's not enough, try the Swingle, which takes the Key-lime pie to a higher level, one of chocolate-dipped delight.
Red Hook Recreation Fields (map)
160 Bay St., Brooklyn, NY 11231
Pupusas, tamales, tacos, and much more are made fresh on-site every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Bring cash, come hungry, and try something from a few different trucks. Watch a soccer game while you eat. Buen provecho!
454 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
Succulent beef brisket, lamb belly, jerk baby back ribs, Sriracha hot wings, Texas-style queso mac and cheese, smoked pit beans, whiskey sour pickles, collared greens, and the best cornbread we've ever had -- that's Hometown Bar-B-Que in a nutshell.
There are two bars with several good beers on tap, a variety of American whiskeys, and local wines. And there's live music on weekends. If you find a long line, trust us, it's worth the wait. So just go, and go when ravenously hungry.
220 Conover St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
If Hemingway were alive and living in Red Hook, he'd drink here. Not only is one of the best drinks the absinthe-fused Death in the Afternoon, Venetian-style Botanica has something of a philosophical character that seems to encourage long conversation over some of Brooklyn's most intriguing cocktails.
The floor-to-high-ceiling French doors and green-fairy-inspired artwork lend it a refreshing airiness on warm afternoons, and on hot summer nights you could do worse than sipping iced cocktails here alfresco.
365 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
At the heart of Red Hook is Fort Defiance, a popular spot for seasonal dishes, beyond-the-pale cocktails, and a sense of history. A lot of what's on the menu is locally sourced, and fine attention is paid to quality and freshness.
The grilled skirt steak is mouthwatering, as is the pan-roasted dorade, and the chicken-liver pâté is divine. There's no shortage of enticing cocktails. The New York Times called the Irish coffee here 'the best in the known world.'
392 Van Brunt St. Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
OK, they don't sell food or drink here, but there are custom letterpress stationery, handmade textiles, jewellery, candles, baby gifts, hand knits, knickknacks, and novelties in this charming shop, owned and run by English native Jane Buck.
Go ahead and spoil someone with a present from this little gem, named after the owner's parents. Buck makes the stationery in her adjoining studio.
116 Sullivan St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
This little gourmet-sandwich shop is a block from the Van Brunt strip, so it's easy to miss. But it's well worth checking out, especially for its Breakfast Hero with Bacon, a scrambled-egg masterpiece with cheddar and fresh arugula served all day.
Then there's the delicious Italian combo and the perfect roast turkey sandwich, both stars of the shop. Wash it down with one of the classic sodas. If there aren't seats available, take your grub a few blocks down to Valentino Pier.
253 Conover St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)
Step back in time to when a bar was a bar and head to Sunny's, which dates from 1890 and was named one of the best bars in America by Esquire. Go in, order your poison, and enjoy the band -- you might hear folk, rockabilly, or bluegress depending on which night you go.
They serve beer-flavored beer here, so don't even think about ordering a craft brew. It's a Red Hook institution, one that fought Hurricane Sandy and lived to tell about it. You'll wanna keep coming back.
Kao Soy -- authentic, Thai-spicy, delicious
Bait and Tackle -- good spot for a pint, live music
La Newyorkina -- yummy mole ice cream
Botta di Vino -- wines galore
The Good Fork -- for finer dining; get a table out back
Hope & Anchor -- a classic diner
Cacao Prieto Distillery -- gourmet chocolate, Widow Jane whiskeys
Rocky Sullivan's -- pizza, beer
Kevin's -- brunch and more
Brooklyn Crab -- big outdoor space
Home/Made -- brunch and more
Pioneer Works -- huge, fun space
Dry Dock Wine + Spirits -- wide selection
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