Granted, we write about things that are happening in Bushwick all the time. But in my own experience trying to coax people out here on the weekends, unless you live nearby, it's pretty easy to find excuses not to make the trek. Hence, it deserves the summer weekend guide treatment. This particular weekend, the neighborhood will play host to the Roberta's-backed Bushwick Block Party. You may have heard about it:
Watch out for the hipsters this weekend in Bushwickkkkkk. http://t.co/QwiVhvdGjK
— New York Daily News (@nydailynews) July 25, 2013
Uh, yes. This is all well and good, and if you can handle crowds (and very long lines for free pizza), then by all means, dive in. But it's by no means the only option. Over the span of not very much time at all, a lot of good stuff has cropped up throughout the neighborhood, and even for the most skeptical tourist (or non-North Brooklyn resident), it's imminently worth spending a day or two poking around.
Elsewhere, Northeast Kingdom is still the neighborhood gold standard for a stellar farm-to-table meal, and Falansai, a much-needed new Vietnamese place, is worth going to for the "Dad's shrimp rolls" alone (though they've got pretty amazing wine pairings, too). Then, there's Verde. It's a little farther out, near the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop, but well worth it for the stuff that comes out of their 100-year-old coal oven, and a reliably low-key, old-school atmosphere that's the ideal antidote to the sweaty throngs down by Roberta's. Frank Sinatra will be playing, fresh cannoli will be in a display case, and everything will feel exactly right. Also, for what it's worth, Burger It Up! (their exclamation point, not mine) out on Knickerbocker has what may be the best veggie burger in the entire borough, as well as some of the best spicy fries. It's a potent combination. Cafe Ghia's got a good one too, which is certifiably vegan, to boot.
Skytown, 921 Broadway
Little Skips, 941 Willoughby Ave
Athom Cafe, 1096 Broadway
Falansai, 112 Harrison Pl.
Northeast Kingdom, 18 Wyckoff Ave.
Verde Coal Oven, 254 Irving Ave.
Burger It Up!, 146 Knickerbocker Ave.
Cafe Ghia, 24 Irving Ave.
Generally speaking, the bar snacks situation is a good one, and even if you're just there for drinks, it's worth getting a plate of the deviled eggs at Heavy Woods, say, or an order of hush puppies down the street at Mama Joy's. Also, if we can qualify a taco as a "snack" (we can), Los Hermanos is the beloved, BYOB neighborhood classic, but if you're by the Morgan stop or Myrtle-Wyckoff, we'd direct you to Taqueria El Fogon and Taqueria El Paisa, respectively. Or really, to all of them.
Down near Myrtle-Broadway, there's the wholesome ice cream parlor option at Evergreen, or the less-wholesome frito pie at Happy Fun Hideaway. Crucially, there's also a dominican stand that stays open late nights directly across the street from Bossa Nova Civic Club, with stomach-lining fare like fried yucca.
Arancini Bros., 940 Flushing Ave.
Heavy Woods, 50 Wyckoff Ave.
Mama Joy's, 1084 Flushing Ave.
Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, 271 Starr St.
Taqueria El Fogon, 1050 Flushing Ave.
Taqueria El Paisa, 298 Irving Ave.
Evergreen Ice Cream Co., 144 Evergreen Ave
Happy Fun Hideaway, 1211 Myrtle Ave.
The area's also become something of a hub for galleries (hence, this year's Bushwick Open Studios, which hosted 600 shows.) 3rd Ward is the biggest and most varied, and, incidentally, is hosting a pig roast on-site this Saturday. Brooklyn FireProof, which has an on-site cafe and bar, multiple stages, and an entire building worth of workspaces for artists, has also turned itself into something of a neighborhood institution. For smaller spaces, though, the Living Gallery is a good jumping off point (check their calendar for specific events), as is Storefront Bushwick, which has been showcasing local artists for longer than just about anyone else. Schema Projects also has reliably good exhibitions, and also houses Blonde Art Books, a good source for smartly curated art publications.
And, in the category of "things that are hard to categorize but we like a lot anyway," there's Mellow Pages Reading Room, which is tucked into the 56 Bogart, a collection of small spaces that's well worth wandering around in and of itself. Somehow, they've created the perfect place to drink a little beer, rent a couple books, and read in peace. Not as easy as you'd think.
Fort Useless, 36 Ditmars Street
Silent Barn, 603 Bushwick Ave.
Goodbye Blue Monday, 1087 Broadway
The Living Gallery, 1094 Broadway
Storefront Bushwick, 16 Wilson Ave.
Schema Projects, 92 St. Nicholas
3rd Ward, 195 Morgan Ave.
Brooklyn FireProof, 119 Ingraham
Mellow Pages Library, 56 Bogart St.
The neighborhood's also become a pretty solid hub for thrifting, with Urban Jungle as its cornerstone, and a rare balance of men's and women's clothing (there's also a well-stocked Goodwill directly up the street, which doesn't hurt). Those more inclined toward serious digging can spend hours pawing through Green Village Used Clothing and Furniture, while anyone who'd rather pay a little more for higher-end pieces that someone else dug around for, C O L L E C T I O N S just opened down the street from Storefront Bushwick, and has been known to have free champagne kicking around, too. Something for everyone, and all that.
The Narrows gets a lot of deserved cred for having the best-crafted cocktails in the neighborhood and is absolutely worth a pilgrimage, but as far as a good spot to just sit with your friends and have a laid back drink, the best place in the neighborhood is still Pearl's Social & Billy Club, just off the Jefferson stop. It's rivaled pretty closely by Alaska, though, which tends to be less crowded and has the benefit of a massive whiskey collection. Another neighborhood stalwart (and a good place two doors down to duck into if things at Goodbye Blue Monday get out of hand) is Lone Wolf, which is dark, cheap, and a good place to catch an unexpected, surprisingly good burlesque show or a DJ that unapologetically breaks out every major top 40 hit of the past 20 years. Whatever they have going on, everything here is as it should be.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.