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Off Track Planet's Brooklyn Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 2, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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This edgy reference book is divided into two parts. The first part covers what to expect in Brooklyn including fashion, health and safety, budgeting, and where to stay. The second part is organized by neighborhood and what to do for fun including bars and partying, places to visit, shopping, eating, festivals, tattoo shops, sightseeing, and more. Complete with predeparture suggestions as well as OTP tips and fun facts, this comprehensive travel guide also includes 200+ photos and illustrated maps for each neighborhood and is the only go-to guide to Brooklyn you’ll need.
Manhattan’s cheaper, cooler (actually older) brother, Brooklyn is where America’s collection of internationals mash together into a steaming stew of culture. A great place to lose your backpacking virginity, this borough will take you around the world with every train stop: Dominican/Pakistani bodegas and West African restaurants in Notorious B.I.G.’s Bed-Stuy, hipster kingdoms in Williamsburg and Bushwick, all things Italian in Bay Ridge, Polish peeps in Greenpoint, and Ukraine’s home away from home in Brighton Beach. Like biting into a cross-section of the world, Brooklyn lives in layers of nationalities, piled high on top of each other in historic brownstones. You want a side of pierogi with your calzone? Brooklyn’s got you, boss.
If you’re looking for an earful of fuggetaboutit, this is guido paradise. Sure, a lot of Bay Ridge is composed of families just looking to get away from the bustle, but it is where the basil and ricotta flavors are most prominent. Most restaurants here don’t fuck around with nouveau Italian. They don’t put kale in your calzones or Korean short ribs on your pizza. In Bay Ridge, tradition is what matters most. If you ever find a hair in your cannoli here, it will likely be gray and belong to an old nonna.
COFFEE AND BAKERIES
7612 3rd Avenue
The décor at this place is super weird, with booths that look like they’re cut out of stacks of pancakes and an outdoor space that feels like a makeshift Miami nightclub. But you may not even notice the nutty designs because your face will be drawn to the dessert display and will remain there until you realize they have baklava cheesecake. This cake is mighty special. The flakey, honey-soaked pastry stands in for the crust and surrounds a perfectly creamy cheesecake. Feel free to pursue other offerings, but trust us, this Mid-East-meets-Brooklyn cake is what’ll turn you rabid with every forkful.
9009 5th Avenue
The cupcake craze was a ridiculous food epidemic, and, if our calculations are correct, coincided with the popularity of jeggings (the stretchy, wannabe pants for those who can’t figure out how to squeeze themselves into denim). While many a bakery cupcaked and failed, Robicelli’s continues to withstand the test of time. This is a husband-and-wife operation, and both are completely dedicated to shocking you with the weird shit they can make into a cupcake. With a rotation of more than 250 wacky flavors, these dudes are still busy remastering the cupcake and don’t care if everyone else has moved on to doughnuts.
THE COFFEE LAB
6903 3rd Avenue
When trekking to Bay Ridge kills your caffeine buzz, the Coffee Lab is a legit coffee shop dedicated to perking your ass back into business. A wide-open, clean space, the baristas are mad coffee scientists and the décor is streamlined but not sterile. They serve pastries from Balthazar and their beans come from Williamsburg roaster, Toby’s Estate. Get something with espresso and feel human again.
7414 5th Avenue
Going to Bay Ridge means hitting a good Italian spot, and Gino’s has been around for more than fifty years, serving its dishes to the authenticity-seeking masses. You can taste the nonna love in their slow-cooked sauces, the pasta is always made right, and the chicken Parm may back up an artery—but hot damn it’s good! They serve hearty Italian portions but manage to keep the presentations neat and blob-free.
Saturday Night Fever was filmed in Bay Ridge.
HO’BRAH: A TACO JOINT
8618 3rd Avenue
If the name doesn’t tip you off, brah, this place is all about Cali Mexican, and they do it so right. Each one of their corn-tortilla-cradled tacos is a masterpiece in West Coast flavor. They’ve got the fish taco nailed, with perfectly fried cod chunks, slaw, cheese, salsa, punchy lime, and sour cream falling from every corner of that tortilla. They throw in chipotle (and bourbon!) into the charred steak taco, and if you get it with pickled jalapeños and a side of guac, you’ll start feeling the warm Cali breeze hitting your face with every bite. Ho’Brah gets their fish from the nearby market on 87th Street and 3rd Avenue, pairs it with bold flavors, and serves it up in a surf atmosphere decked out with boards.
Complaints that New York City is devoid of authentic Mexican food can stop right here. Nearby Sunset Park has a huge Mexican population that concocts the spiciest, guacamoliest, down-right taco burritoiest eats in all of NYC, and at a price fit for the homey food it’s supposed to be. These are the Mexican spots we hold dearest to our hearts.
TACOS EL BRONCO
4324 4th Avenue
West Coasters rave about this place being on point, and we agree; El Bronco aces their tacos. The pickings are way more delicious than their cobbled-together Microsoft Office menu may suggest. Their carne al pastor, spit-charred and wonderful, is the tits. They’ve got your usual suspects (steak, chicken, and pork, etc.), but kick it up a notch with some interesting meats like lengua (tongue), tripa (tripe, or stomach lining), and cabeza (veal head). They’ve also got two trucks on the road in the area if taking your tacos for a walk is the plan.
TAQUERIA EL MAGUEY
3910 4th Avenue
The carne asada in this joint is so tender and juicy it’ll never end up stuck in your teeth cracks. A hole in the wall, Maguey has a large following for its awesome tacos, tamales, and other authentic dishes. It’s a space that’s always jam-packed, mostly with real Mexicans—because it’s real Mexican food. The all-green décor accentuates the freshness of its offerings.
TACOS LOS POBLANOS
5320 5th Avenue
Things are about to get real messy! This food stand is packed with guys busily making tacos to order. They’re doing God’s taco work in a small space that pumps out huge flavors. The tacos are cheap, and you get to sauce them with squeeze bottles of either red or green salsa. Here’s the trick: Get five tacos and they’ll throw in a whole grilled onion. Proceed to sauce those little love pouches with enough salsa verde to turn your elbow into a green juice faucet.
4508 5th Avenue
A cultish taco destination, you’ll find that Matamoros doesn’t mess around when it comes to tacos. When regular tacos won’t do, Matamoros brings out the big guns with their supersized beastly tacos, stuffed so full that they need paper wrappers to hold it all together. (And still under $5!) There’s something magical about their salsa verde, their guac has the cilantro-lime ratio right, and the chorizo is well spiced. Despite all the gringos you’ll see inside, Matamoros is authentic Mexican right down to the carne asada. There’s a second location down the street, but stick to the OG for your fix of flavor.
corner of 60th Street and 4th Avenue
Walking by, you will be drawn in by the smell of tacos wafting around the stand, especially late at night (the guy’s there until 6:00 a.m.!) when you’re swaying from side to side on a frantic search for something awesome. All the meat is grilled right there, and the beef and chicken are solid. Get yourself a pair and sauce up those bitches any way you like.
8806 3rd Avenue
You’ll walk in and wonder why we sent you somewhere to browse lamps and odd knickknacks. Be patient, friend. The storefront is a vintage furnishings boutique and the back is all about brunch. Drop Grandma off at the doilies and trinkets while you go get green eggs and ham (and sangria at noon). The café’s menu changes frequently, but you can always depend on brunch regulars like eggs, bacon, pancakes, baked goods, sandwiches, and homemade jams. The portions are satisfying, and the servers know you’re likely hungover, so they use their inside voices.
MIKE’S HINSCH GREEK AMERICAN DINER
#OldSchool #diner #DrunkFood
8518 5th Avenue
Hinsch’s has been a Bay Ridge staple for decades and is famous for the type of midnight munchies that old Brooklynites love best. Come here for late-night egg creams and floats, or roll out of bed whenever for some kick-ass pancakes, omelets, sandwiches, and crispy sweet potato fries. The service is super-friendly, and it’s the kind of place you’ll wish was around the corner when you were skipping school. Greek food? Yeah, they’ve got that too. It was recently overtaken by another (real estate tycoon) Mike, but he knows better than to change anything about this legendary spot.
8610 5th Avenue
We’re not sure that pizzas and wagons have any business being strung together, but this is a classic neighborhood pizza joint and the pies will hit the spot every time. The atmosphere is of your typical pizza joint with stand-up tables, so you can stretch out your intestines while gobbling up slice after slice. The slices come in triangles or squares (corners!) with fresh melty cheese, tangy sauce, and a crunchy crust. For $4 you can get a slice and a soda and leave the place feeling like you’ve done it right. Roll on, little pizza wagon, and spread your good pizza cheer.
#FoodNetwork #TreatYourself #MiddleEastern
7523 3rd Avenue
Tanoreen is a small operation that made it big-time, with Food Network attention and all. The talk on the TV was all about their knafeh, a phyllo dessert that’s cheesy and nutty. But there is so much more amazing food to be found here. Aside from sweets, Tanoreen is a stand-out on the huge NYC Middle Eastern scene. Not your thrown-together falafel joint, chef/owner Rawia Bishara creates inspired, slow-cooked, well-spiced dishes that she learned from her innovative mother. The menu is lamb-heavy, but the variety of preparations, sides, and spices makes for a different mouthful with every dish. If you do it right, you won’t have room for dessert . . . but you should probably get it anyway.
SEE AND DO
69TH STREET PIER (AMERICAN VETERAN’S MEMORIAL PIER)
Shore Road and Bay Ridge Avenue
A waterfront not overrun by tourists, come here to stare into the NYC distance and enjoy some gorgeous sunsets. You can gaze at the famous skyline from a new angle, with a little Verrazano Bridge in the background. In the summer of 2012, the pier got a $1.1 million eco dock addition that often holds free educational seminars about NYC waterways and gives boat tours. If your sneakers get itchy, you can join the locals for a run or bike ride along the promenade. If you have zero interest in breaking a sweat, sit back with a blunt and watch people fish and be merry.
#deals #clothes #shoes
472 86th Street
Everyone knows about the Manhattan location of this famous NYC discount store, but the Bay Ridge branch is far superior. No wide-eyed tourists here pawing through everything and clogging the aisles. This Century 21 is all about boss swagger on the cheap. Their overflowing merchandise is housed in two stores, with the shoe heaven shop across the street. Perfect for brand whores and couldn’t-give-a-shit shoppers, this Century 21 has all the right threads.
HIT CHINATOWN WITH CONFIDENCE
The largest in New York, Brooklyn’s take on stateside China is an enjoyably confusing stretch of Pan-Asian paradise that spans about twenty blocks. On the street, you’ll see piles of produce, still-moving seafood, a wide selection of noodle houses, dim sum, and enough socks to last you for eternity. More than China is represented here; it’s a cross-section of culture that includes offerings from Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. Hop off the N train at 8th Avenue and don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar street signs and food hanging out on the sidewalks.
9221 5th Avenue
Lock Yard is a beer garden with craft beers, a banging backyard, and a huge selection of artisanal sausages (with wild toppings)—plus fried pickles. They don’t have a full bar, but you won’t care. Their beer menu rotates weekly and they know that yard is a gem, so they keep it heated and beautifully lit to stretch the most out of al fresco season.
THE OWL’S HEAD
479 74th Street
A cool, new wine bar without a drop of wino pretension, the food is equally good, and the area allows wine prices to stay affordable. But just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s not über fancy. The bar is made from a single maple tree, the place is wrapped in exposed brick, and the charcuterie (cheese and meat plates, people!) are carefully selected and sourced locally from cheese aficionados, Stinky Bklyn. They also throw a great $1 oyster night.
7509 3rd Avenue
How do you make a sports bar better? Mix in a little firehouse flare. This old firehouse is a sports bar that gets super rowdy late at night. It’s divey but has an old-school neighborhood feel; everyone is always drunk and eating something greasy. You’ll come in here for a beer, things will quickly escalate into dancing on tables, and, unavoidably, the night will turn wild and you’ll find yourself passed out near the vintage fire truck. We dare you to just have a quiet, sit-down conversation. Ain’t gonna happen, boss.
Mostly made up of industrial lofts, Bushwick is like Williamsburg’s just-as-weird, but different, little brother. Since there is more room to move around (and make cool shit) than in Williamsburg, the lofts in Bushwick house a lot of creative people. Get off at any L stop in Bushwick and you’ll be face-raped by all kinds of graffiti and bands practicing their latest electro-pop/grunge/hip-hop combo jams. Bushwick’s vintage stores are the real, mothball-smelly deal; the loft parties never reach capacity; and the many cafés all brew the brown strong to keep you amped until something pops. Anything goes here, and there is never a curfew.
COFFEE AND BAKERIES
ANGE NOIR CAFÉ
#coffee #lunch #LiveMusic #French
247 Varet Street
Owned by a not-snotty French couple, Ange Noir is a quirky place that isn’t trying too hard to be French but is dotted with enough Frenchiness to give it an interesting vibe. The coffee here is Stumptown, and the atmosphere is as if France and Brooklyn ran into each other at a high enough speed to combine décor forces. Flanked by brick, there are little lamps on the tables and the restroom door is housed inside a telephone booth. A nice place to set up for a few hours of work, Ange Noir is both chic and comfortable and never that crowded. They’ve got quiche and croissants, but if you get hungry, the sandwiches (with cheesy international country names) are absolutely amazing. If you’re staying at the Loft Hostel, make this your morning breakfast joint. They also hold live music performances for locals at 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays (at which point it gets a little loud and sometimes obnoxious).
CAFETERIA LA MEJOR
191 Suydam Street
A little bit of Miami’s Cuban fusion flavor in Bushwick, La Mejor serves up coffee and a small selection of well-made sandwiches in a bright-blue-and-neon-pink-accented shop. La Mejor is less like Miami threw up on Brooklyn and more of a tasteful approach to the loud, vibrant vibe. Their coffee isn’t typical of your average coffee shop; their focus is mixing your coffee perfectly with milk to create cortaditos or serving it up with milk, sugar, a pinch of salt, and a bit of butter. (That’s right, fucking butter!) They’re got the Cuban (both meat and veg), but the Meridian, with its ham, Swiss, and hot pepper guava jelly, is something Miami dreams are made of. Stroll up to the bright take-out window on a nice day, get yourself a Miami breakfast, and drift away to a world of silicone-stuffed bikinis and burnt-caramel tans.
108 Central Avenue
A tiny, cozy, brick-and-wood café, Central is a perfect neighborhood shop, with seating set up like a living room, and old books and pinecones lining the windowsill. The coffee here is Intelligentsia and a little pricier than most, but if you bring in your own mug, they knock down your drink by twenty-five cents. The spot is perfect for breakfast, with sandwiches named after big streets in the neighborhood (like the Jefferson), bagels with a variety of spreads, and a few pastries. The baristas are short and to the point; they don’t smile, and there’s no bullshit small talk—the kind of people you need to see in the morning when you don’t feel like carrying on a conversation about the weather.
#doughnuts #vegan #FoodNetwork
222 Montrose Avenue
When you’re sitting on the L train under somebody’s unkempt armpit, and a doughnut craving strikes, hop off at the Montrose stop and sweet, fluffy, unique rounds of dough are waiting to sop up your saliva. The décor here is Old English, and the doughnut recipes are cruelty-free nuevo chic, as all those colorful doughnuts are completely vegan. Dun-Well doesn’t just go a step beyond cardboard but blows conventional ’nuts out of the water with their tender (sans) buttery creations. On any given day, the shop sells a wide variety of creative and classic doughnuts. From their Boston cream to the jelly-stuffed PB&J, Dun-Well pumps out newsworthy doughnuts that have landed them on “best of” lists almost immediately since their opening in 2011. They’ve also got great Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee to help wash down all that compassion.
123 Knickerbocker Avenue
Kávé is the busy coffee shop throbbing at the center of Shops at the Loom, a Bushwick-style mini-mall with crafty goods, art spaces, a yoga studio, tattoo shop, vintage store, and other small businesses. Reminiscent of a rum-soaked den somewhere in Cuba, Kávé is decked out in wood, metal, and wicker. They offer your standard coffee drinks but up the ante with flavored lattes like mint, coconut, and maple (which can be made with nut milks). Their sandwiches are also pretty damn tasty. The bathroom situation here is confusing, with stalls seamlessly incorporated into a tall metallic inset by the entrance. But once you figure it out, you’re golden. Since Kávé (the Hungarian word for “coffee”) is a little hidden, you always feel like you’re safe from whatever weirdness may be lurking outside.
LULA BEAN CAFE
#coffee #cookies #European
797 Grand Street
Get off the L train at Grand, don’t you even dare look at Dunkin’ Donuts, and pop into Lula Bean about a half block down. The maximum amount of cute the cool kids can tolerate, Lula is a small shop with only five little bistro tables; benches make up most of the seating. The slightly sleepy baristas serve Segafredo coffee, an Italian roaster unheard of in Brooklyn. If you’ve been to Italy, you’ll remember the name from the little stick-shaped sugar packets served with your espresso abroad (which they’ve got here too!). Lula also serves paninis, muffins (from our favorite Blue Sky Bakery), bagels, and other light breakfast and lunch stuff common to most café menus, plus homemade pie.
49 Bogart Street
Right off the Morgan Avenue L stop and in the middle of the busiest corner in Bushwick (aka Morgantown), no matter the time or weather, it always feels like a balmy sunset inside of Swallow. You walk up a few metal steps to get in and walk across creaky floorboards to get to the counter, where they brew Brooklyn Roasting Company beans, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a sideways smirk. All of the chairs and tables are a little bit wobbly, and the windows let in an odd glow. In order to get to the bathroom, you have to go out into the internal hallway of the building and around the corner. From the smells to the sounds, everything is quirky about this place, but when you’re not feeling particularly put-together, it’s comforting to pop into a place that seems to be lacking some polish itself.
THE COBRA CLUB
#coffee #bar #quirky
6 Wyckoff Avenue
- On Sale
- Jun 2, 2015
- Page Count
- 224 pages
- Running Press