How to Spend the Day in Bushwick, Brooklyn

How to Spend the Day in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Brooklyn's landscape changes every day, and Bushwick is an example of the rise of New York's most popular borough. Once a rugged, gritty area with limited commercial appeal, this bustling neighborhood now hosts a plethora of small businesses, from farm-to-table restaurants to specialty cocktail lounges and art galleries. Brooklyn is changing fast, but it still doesn't carry the economic weight of the sky-high rent prices business owners pay in Manhattan.

Get to Bushwick fast—while it's still affordable—and explore all of the great things that Brooklynites—lifetime, seasoned or brand new—have to offer. 

Where to Eat

Tucked away behind an unassuming exterior, Roberta's is a Bushwick go-to. The New York Times' Sam Sifton called the always-busy pizza joint "one of the most extraordinary restaurants in the United States." Since opening just under a decade ago, this pizzeria has brought droves of visitors and newfound Brooklynites through its red doors for crispy and chewy pies and reputable Italian plates. The outdoor garden, where Roberta's team grows and sources its herbs, offers an airy complement to the buzzing dining room.

Roberta restaurant interior in New York City

For locally sourced, homemade pasta dishes, such as agnolotti with ember-roasted sweet potato and vadouvan, head to Faro, whose kitchen was awarded a Michelin star for the coming year. Inventive dishes include dry-aged duck roast with Jerusalem artichoke and herb-crusted endive, and roasted lamb loin. Meanwhile, the mother-daughter team behind Le Garage brings a taste of France with specialties such as smoked fish rillette with trout roe and potatoes in duck fat with béarnaise, alongside an artisanal cocktail menu in a space that was once occupied by, you guessed it, a garage. 

The Rack Shop in New York City

Where to Shop

Chess and the Sphinx is a consignment shop offering high-end vintage apparel and accessories, jewelry and footwear for women, with a focus on highlighting vintage items and rare finds from each decade from the past half-century. Worship has two locations—one in Bushwick and one in Los Angeles—and shoppers can shop their Instagram to peruse items, regardless of the location of the merchandise. Collections on Wilson Ave. carries vintage accessories and breaks its apparel collections into three categories: children, feminine and masculine. While Collections is the only venue of these three to offer clothing fitted and tailored for men, it is also the only one to not offer the opportunity to sell with them. 

While New York City has its fair share of used book shops selling vintage goods, few (or none other than Molasses Books,) offer guests the opportunity to barter their used book collections for coffee, beer, cash or store credit. The book shop and coffee and beer bar have ample reading space, as well as a bar for patrons to break out their laptops or read actual books acquired in-store. The shop offers guests 30% of a book's trade-in value; slightly more in credit or alcohol, slightly less in cash. The bar serves hot and iced coffee, iced tea and beer and wine. 

The Rack Shack is an elaborate, detail-oriented bra shop attempting to cover all the possible bases for women shopping for bras, and also offers lingerie and high-end, fashionable sneakers for women. The shop's focus is to stock as many different sizes, styles, shapes and colors as possible—the theme is inclusion. 

Drink

Bushwick has joined the ranks of other Brooklyn neighborhoods with bars offering craft beers and original cocktail programs. But while the drinks may be fancy, the joints are casual and keeping with the area's industrial past. What does this translate to? More drinks, less industry-standard abuse of your wallet. 

For milkshakes infused with premium alcohol (e.g., Vieux-Car-Ream: Old Overholt, Courvoisier VS, Benedectine, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters, Peychaud's bitters, vanilla ice cream) and an all-day menu of contemporary-American-meets-upscale-diner, head to 983 Bushwick's Living Room. For less of an American experience, head to The Rookery, a British-influenced bar with a West Indian food menu, a 16-foot horseshoe bar, fireplace and an outdoor garden available during warm weather or for private parties.

For Cajun influence, head to Wyckoff Ave. to Heavy Woods, whose food spicy, Louisiana-style food menu complements a wide array of housemade specialty cocktails, such as the Smoke Bomb: makers mark, coffee-infused antica and vanilla de Madagascar. The bar is known for its beer-and-shot combo specials ($6!) and its duck and okra gumbo. 

Play

The best thing about an up-and-coming gem of a neighborhood is that if you spot it early on—and even though we're a few years behind here, we're still early on—then the price points for a day or night out are more than reasonable. At Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen, guests can dine formally at the restaurant and bar, but they can also head to the full-service, 60-seat dine-in cinema, where orders are accepted from and delivered to your seat, and admission is $7 for first-run films, and $4 for all others. Alcoholic shakes (e.g., chocolate: Oddfellows ice cream and chili-infused tequila) are on offer,  as well as 10 craft draft beers and a number of wines by the glass. Silent Barn is a community art space, with live musical performances that include fundraising concerts. The massive space features work studios for artists, as well as living studios, where visual artists and performers hone on their craft while living in a communal space with fellow creatives. The venue hosts art exhibitions, displays permanent artwork, hosts radio programming and features more than 70 artists involved with organizational operations at any given time. 

The Bushwick Collective is a local graffiti company that accepts street artists and painters into its outdoor, nonprofit street art gallery area. The group welcomes tour groups to come and observe the massive displays on a pay-what-you-like basis, and the exposition of artwork is extremely diverse and often specific thematically to New York City. 

Whether your interests are rooted in dining, in libations, in communal art spaces or in exploring under-the-radar filmmaking, Bushwick, within its small geographic confines, has more than enough to keep you busy for weeks. If there's one communal element at which all of these small business owners succeed, it's the incorporation of creativity and fresh ideas into their establishments and their products. Come out to Brooklyn and bring your open mind. See the evolution of a borough and a neighborhood happen right before your eyes. 

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