Brooklyn’s reputation precedes it. A vibrant artistic community or a hipster haven; this is a borough which divides opinion. Brooklyn is an enormous, sprawling borough, stretching from the urban streets of Williamsburg to the sandy stretches of Rockaway and beyond. We only had one day in Williamsburg – hardly enough time to scratch the surface – but we endeavoured to do just that.
Our first port of call was the scrubby little stretch of beach sandwiched between Bushwick Inlet Park and the Hudson. Whilst the beach itself leaves much to be desired, the panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline – from the Brooklyn Bridge and Financial District to the Upper East Side – make the beach more than worth a visit.
Sand on our toes and fresh air in our lungs, we set out in search of lunch. Williamsburg is certainly not short of places to eat – from fish tacos to pho, bratwurst to funnel cake, you’re sure to find something delicious to take your fancy. Our New York born-and-bred guide led us to his favourite spot, a nondescript little Southern hole-in-the-wall on the corner of 4th and Driggs called Pies n Thighs.
The menu is heavy on the beige – fried chicken, grits, cornbread, pies – with little flashes of genius, like a watermelon, mint and jalapeño salad.This is the kind of food which fills you up to the gills, leaving you to float around on a deep-fried cloud all afternoon… The watermelon agua fresca and Arnold Palmer ice tea act as the perfect foil to the heavy Southern food. The pies and doughnuts are renowned, so make sure you leave enough room; the s’mores pie with smoked graham cracker crust was out-of-this-world amazing.
Keen to walk off the carb coma, we strolled the streets of Williamsburg en route to our next pit stop: Brooklyn Brewery.
We booked tickets for a small batch tour at the Brooklyn Brewery. Not a big beer fan, I was hoping this would open my eyes and educate my tastebuds in much the way that an Australian winery tour once gave me a taste for merlot…
The tour itself is very laid back. Visitors are encouraged to chill out, pitch in and sample everything from the popular lager to their super-limited batch brews. I actually did discover a taste for beer, though far from the light lagers that everyone suggests, it turns out I prefer the deep, chocolatey porters… Huh.
The Brooklyn Brewery Small Batch Tour takes place every Monday-Thursday at 5pm and you can book tickets here.
As the sun began to set, we headed towards the best sunset view in Brooklyn – The Ides. Situated on the rooftop of the Whythe Hotel, the bar offers the perfect vantage point to watch the sun sink below the skyline, dark’n’stormy in hand.
Williamsburg is not short of pubs and bars. Other highlights include Radegast Bier Hall for steins, sausages and every kind of mustard you could dream of; and Skinny Dennis, a down-and-dirty country dive bar, complete with lethal bourbon sweet tea cocktails.
Wherever you end up, don’t forget to make one last visit to the riverside for that view…
Brookyln has a completely different vibe to Manhattan – smaller, more eclectic, yet still bursting with so many fantastic little secret spots. I’ve already worked up quite a little to-do list for my next visit…