It’s January 2015 already! I want to start something new for the year here at IAMGALLA, a neighborhood feature series. We’ll pick different neighborhoods in New York and give you the scoop on all the things to do there. I’ll highlight at least 1 bar, 1 restaurant, and 1 must see/do thing, as well as give you a list of other options in that area. Whether you live in New York or you’re just visiting our aim is to help you discover more of this fantastic city.
What better place to start off with than in my own backyard. The neighborhood of East Williamsburg/Bushwick in Brooklyn is not someplace you would have sought out a couple of years ago but now it’s quickly becoming a go-to spot with many new bars and restaurants opening all the time.
One of my absolute favorite bars to frequent is Pine Box Rock Shop. Located right off the Morgan L stop, this former casket factory turned bar is easy to spot with its heavily graffitied facade. Perhaps graffiti is a bit too harsh of a word rather the street art covered walls and large steel and glass doors tell you right away this place is going to be cool. Once inside you’re greeted with a rustic/salvage-esque looking bar from the high factory ceilings to the bifurcated oil drum tables. If you sit at the bar you’ll notice tons of ticket stubs from concerts past in the resin that makes up the bar. Not only is there a full bar but Pine Box also has 16 beers on tap which they rotate out frequently. Oh, did I mention that this is a vegan establishment? Yeah, the snacks, cocktails, and even the beer are all vegan-friendly. Please treat yourself to one of the empanadas! Make sure you check out the back area as well where you can enjoy live music, open mic nights, and karaoke on Thursdays. Plus on Wednesday nights there’s free trivia. If you’re looking for a bar that just about has it all then Pine Box is it. I’m sure you can see why I like coming here.
I know there are many of you that enjoy art and going to any of the fine museums in the city can be a great way to see those classic pieces. But museum costs can add up quickly. Well, right off the Jefferson L train you can find the Bushwick Collective. An outdoor gallery of street art that features artists from all over the world. You’ll immediately see these large murals as you come out of the subway.
The Collective was started by Bushwick native Joseph Ficalora as a way to help promote street art and clean up the neighborhood. You can take a self-guided tour of the art and I would suggest starting on Troutman Street and head West to St. Nicholas Ave. If you’d rather have someone show you the way and give a little insight then check out the free New York and Graffiti Street Art walking tour. I have shamefully not taken this tour yet but really need to get on it. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a city is go on a tour like this. It gets you off the usual tourist path and gives you a real feel for the city. The free part definitely doesn’t hurt either.
After a night of drinking and singing followed by a day of walking around Bushwick, I’m sure you’re going to be getting hungry. Now I could suggest Roberta’s Pizza but that would be too easy and you’ve probably already heard about them. Instead, check out Cafe Ghia!
Named for one of the owner’s car which is a 1970 VW Karmann Ghia, this quaint little cafe is also located right off the Jefferson L stop. They serve brunch and dinner seven days a week and offer a variety of local and seasonal American food. Pop in for a bite to eat or just grab a coffee. There’s also a full bar, signature cocktails, wine, and beer…no I didn’t pick it solely for that. One of my favorite things to get is the Belgian Waffle which is topped with baked apples, cinnamon whipped cream, and maple syrup from Vermont. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. The potato bowls are pretty darn good too. You’ll just have to visit with a big group so you can try some of everything.
Here are some more shots from the neighborhood.
If none of those places tickled your fancy then here is a list of alternatives.
This list is gonna be long. Ready? Ok, Check out: Bodega, Montana’s, Pearl’s Social & Billy Club, Heavy Woods, Alaska, Tutu’s, King’s County, Montanas, The Narrows, Miles, Tandem, The Johnson’s, Radio Bushwick, The Rookery, The Sampler Bushwick, or Forrest Point.
Union Pizza Works, Tutu’s, Momo Sushi Shack, Heavy Woods, Northeast Kingdom, Guacuco, King Noodle, The Living Room, Shinobi Ramen, Burger It Up, The Rookery, 983 (Bushwick’s Living Room), Circo’s Pastry Shop, or Crown Fried Chicken.
Maria Hernandez Park, Bushwick Community Darkroom, or any of the many art studios. There are usually some open on Thursdays. In late May/early June check out Bushwick Open Studios which is a three day art festival. For week/weekend dancing try Tandem or Tutu’s.
This is by no means comprehensive but I hope it helps out. There are just way too many places to talk about them all. Everything in this article is located off the L train from the Morgan to Dekalb stops
Let me know in the comments if any of you check these places out or any neighborhoods you want to see us feature!