It may not be quite as out of the way as, say, Red Hook, but given the absurd news that it's supposedly the worst looking neighborhood in Brooklyn—not to mention complaints earlier this week about its supposedly terrible street art—it seems high time time to give Greenpoint the love and respect it deserves, in the form of a summer weekend guide.
And really, it'd be necessary even without a week of odd, unexpected bad press. Even as one of Brooklyn's most wildly popular (and rapidly gentrifying) neighborhoods, Greenpoint's position right off the G makes it so that unless you're already in the area all the time, it's easy to go months on end without visiting. No more. It's nice out, we can brave the G (or a shuttle, or a long walk from the L or the J), and it's been too long since any of us have taken in a metal show, a jello shot, and a plate of pieriogies in the same day. Let's spend the weekend in Greenpoint.
For surprisingly cheap, utterly no frills option—the full "Polish Platter" is only $9 and the restaurant itself is BYOB—there's Lomzynianka. Polonia just down the street is also simple, straightforward, and well worth a visit, but for a more immersive experience, you should head to Krowleskie Jadlo. Easily identified as the place with suits of armor outside its doors (the name translates to "King's Feast"), the inside is decorated with portraits of Polish royalty and the menu is full of traditional meat-heavy fare, spreadable fats (better than they sound), and a three or four person shared option called a Koryto, which essentially amounts to a giant trough of assorted polish meats and peirogies. No one should leave the neighborhood without having tried this place.
And then, there's everything else. Paulie Gee's has rightfully staked its claim for years now as the best pizza in the neighborhood (and also the most pun-friendly with menu items like the "In Ricotta Da Vita" and "Brian di Parma"), and Five Leaves (which was at the center of the recent war on sidewalk brunch) has become such a beloved brunch staple that if you want to have any hope getting a table while it's still light out, you'll want to get there early. And, on the off-chance you spent the first half of your day loading up on dough-encased red meat and are ready for a change of pace (or just don't feel like waiting in long lines to get to your food), The Bounty recently opened in the neighborhood, and brought with it a menu full of light season fare (think watermelon salad) and sustainable seafood.
Peter Pan, of course, is the big name here, and widely considered to be one of the best (if not the best) donut places in New York (not to mention the home of the donut ice cream sandwich). Cookie Road is also nearby—and exactly what it sounds like—as is Pie Corps, which, it's worth noting, specializes in both sweet and savory pies, including a bacon, egg and cheese hand pie. If you're in the neighborhood early, pick one up and eat it in McGolrick Park, directly across the street. There's the Northside Bakery, too, which actually serves full meals, but is worth stopping by at the very least for a loaf of bread.
Worth noting, too, that the neighborhood is a pretty impressive one for coffee, and aside from its outpost of Cafe Grumpy, it's home to Champion (good if you're also interested in eating some snacks in a beautiful backyard), Variety (good if you're into espresso), and Cup on Norman (good if you're into more espresso). Come tired, or willing to leave a little jittery.
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, 727 Manhattan Ave.
Cookie Road, 659 Manhattan Ave.
Northside Bakery, 190 Nassau Ave.
Pie Corps, 77 Driggs Ave.
Northside Bakery, 190 Nassau Ave.
Cafe Grumpy, 193 Meserole
Champion, 1108 Manhattan Ave.
Variety, 145 Driggs Ave.
Cup on Norman, 79 Norman Ave.
The neighborhood is also home to Shana Tabor's beloved line In God We Trust, which has expanded to include Williamsburg and Soho locations but is all still designed and produced in Greenpoint (and having a huge sale as we speak). Alter has become something of a destination in its own right, and has three separate locations in the neighborhood—one for men's, one for women's, and one that's "co-ed." Both Dalaga and Old Hollywood have locations in the neighborhood, as well.
Word is consistently one of the very best independent bookstores in the entire borough, and this weekend is hosting the Morley Walk, a marathon Christopher Morley reading and neighborhood walking tour. And, whether or not you're really in the market for any kind of furniture, it's worth devoting some time to From the Source, which is housed on the ground floor of a building full of studios and local artists, surprisingly cavernous, and a perfect place to wander around taking in the cool, pleasant wood smell, and incredibly wide range of pieces.
And, inevitably, some overlap with the "snacking" part of the day: Eastern District is in the neighborhood an has an incredible array of beer, cheese, and other locally made goods, and even people who don't actually like candy will love Slodycze Wedel, which gives us an excuse to dig through baskets and baskets of Polish mystery candy in shiny bright wrappers. We don't get to do that nearly enough.
Permanent Records, 181 Franklin Ave.
Co-Op 87, 87 Guernsey St.
The Thing, 1001 Manhattan Ave.
In God We Trust, 70 Greenpoint Ave.
Alter, Multiple Locations
Old Hollywood, 99 Franklin St.
Dalaga, 150 Franklin St.
Word, 126 Franklin St.
From the Source, 69 West St.
Eastern District, 1053 Manhattan Ave.
Slodycze Wedel, 772 Manhattan Ave.
And, just as outrageous rent hikes in Williamsburg have actually been sort of good for Greenpoint's record store options, it's also absorbed a few priced-out art galleries, a welcome addition to an already solid art scene. Yashar Gallery and Greenpoint Gallery are two of the area's most reliable, and Rawson Projects is hosting J. Morrisons series of "Escape from New York" performances through September first (it's free, but space needs to be reserved in advance).
It hasn't gained too much on Williamsburg in terms of venues, but the neighborhood is home to Europa (which doesn't have shows as often as it should but is worth going to just for a beer and a look at the odd layout), Warsaw, which is a bit more traditional and reliable as a Brooklyn venue, and St. Vitus, which has rightfully become iconic as one of the best venues for metal in the entire country. If you have even the slightest metalhead inclination, worth making the pilgrimage.
But even before the opening of the greatest beer bar that ever was, Greenpoint's long been an undeniably great, unpretentious place to bar hop, with a solid range of tried and true dives, upscale cocktails, and places that fall comfortably in the middle. For the former there's, Irene's Place, a Polish-run staple known for its $1 jello shots and jukebox full of Polish disco, as well as Palace Cafe, another longtime neighborhood spot whose demographic skews a bit more towards metalheads. If you just want to sit in a cool, dark room with a beer with a couple friends and not be hassled by anyone, Pencil Factory has been a neighborhood go-to for years, and if you do want to get hassled by someone, the late night dance floor at Enid's is as friendly as it is sweaty (they've got a great brunch, too).
There are also a surprising number of bars with incredibly on-point food options, from the newly-opened Alameda (they've got strong, classic cocktails and a foie gras breakfast sandwich), to Manhattan Inn (which, it's worth noting, also has a perfect, sweaty dance floor after midnight). And then there's No Name Bar, a recent addition to the neighborhood that serves up ramen (an unexpectedly perfect drunk food), and which locals seem to like so much that we've actually gotten yelled at in the comments for publicizing it. No such luck, guys. The people need to know.
Torst, 615 Manhattan Ave.
Irene's Place, 623 Manhattan Ave.
Palace Cafe, 206 Nassau Ave.
Alameda, 195 Franklin Ave.
Pencil Factory, 142 Franklin Ave.
Enid's, 560 Manhattan Ave.
No Name Bar, 597 Manhattan Ave.
Manhattan Inn, 632 Manhattan Ave.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.