With the L train still down for the count on weekends (at least, if you need to get anywhere between the Lorimer stop and Myrtle-Wyckoff), now seems like a good time to bite the bullet and come up with some alternatives. Unless you had your heart set on spending the entire weekend in the orbit of the Bedford stop, in which case, uh, to each their own.
But, as the Times helpfully reminded us this week, there's another train line that runs through North Brooklyn, one that connects the "gritty, hyper-authentic" neighborhoods while still retaining the "humble, old-time 'el' feel [and] also exposing straphangers to blistering winter chill on the outdoor platforms." The JMZ. Home to mystery garbage water that rains down from its elevated tracks, but also, home to a lot of North Brooklyn's best bars, restaurants, and venues, which as a rule are just a little less packed and unbearable than a lot of their counterparts along the L. While the MTA continues doing whatever it's doing, here are a few short itineraries to get you started.
Get Dinner and Drinks Right Under the Train
Of course, there are countless tried and true places to get a drink or a good meal off the Marcy and Hewes stops (Peter Luger, Fatty Cue, East River Bar, the list goes on), and the selection sort of bleeds into the options vaguely surrounding Bedford and even Lorimer. But, no need to walk even a little bit if you don't want to. Not when Cafe Moto's seasonal, refreshingly simple menu and Trophy Bar's frozen margaritas and solid roster of weekend DJs are right there on Broadway, right across the street from each other. It's all more than enough to fill up an entire night out, but if you get to the area early enough it's worth stopping by Otha's for some of the very best espresso in a neighborhood full of stiff competition.
Cafe Moto, 394 Broadway
Trophy Bar, 351 Broadway
Otha's, 297 Broadway
Buy Books and Play Pool
- Image via Nicki Ishmael/Broke Ass Stuart
A natural pairing, I think? Or at least, a natural pairing off the Central Ave. M stop, an area that often gets treated as a go-between but has some good stuff in its own right. Namely, both Molasses—where you can leaf through used books over coffee or wine—and Gotham City Lounge, one of the area's relatively longtime standbys, and the only place we know of where you can get a beer for $2, browse a crazy amount of comic book memorabilia, and play a leisurely (albeit cramped) game of pool. Unclear what made them decide to fit a pool table into such a small space, but we're glad they did.
Molasses Books, 770 Hart St.
Gotham City Lounge, 1293 Myrtle Ave.
Drink Absinthe and See Some Stand-up
Another natural pairing, insofar as nothing helps along a live comedy show as much as prior consumption of strong, crazy-making cocktails. And while there are a staggering number of places to get a drink around the Myrtle-Broadway stop even compared to the way things were a year or two ago, Bizarre is the only one where you can get one made from absinthe. It also happens to be directly down the block from the new location of Silent Barn, which this Saturday plays host to a "Comedy Dreamz" show (just what it sounds like), followed by a DJ'd dance party. Both are very safe places to get a little weird, which you will, no mater what.
Bizarre, 12 Jefferson St.
Silent Barn, 603 Bushwick Ave.
Eat Something Wholesome and See Some Art
- Image via Facebook/Living Gallery
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could probably stand to eat something relatively healthy and take in some art, all during actual daylight hours. For this, stop by the Salad Wheel, a relative newcomer to the neighborhood that has, of course, a lot of excellent salads (like the "Broadway Taco") but also brunch staples like poached eggs, and some of the best, cheapest pressed juices you'll find within the tri-state area. When you're done there, head down Broadway toward the Living Gallery, an art an event space that's been better than just about anyone for consistently showcasing local artists. If you can make it on Friday evenings for their "Drawing 101" classes you absolutely should, but any time you stop by, you're guaranteed not to be bored.
Salad Wheel, 9 Jefferson St.
The Living Gallery, 1094 Broadway
Thrift and Drink Some Whiskey
Really, sort of the roundabout point of this whole thing is to get you to take a long, leisurely walk down Broadway. With most of the L's reach in Bushwick and Williamsburg relatively inaccessible for the weekend (and the weather still conducive to exploring instead of bundling up and rushing from place to place), this is maybe the best time possible to explore an area people tend to pass over unless they happen to live right nearby. Duck into flower shops and community gardens, poke around sidewalk sales, grab a to-go croissant at Athom Cafe
... you get the idea. But for one more reliable itinerary you can't do much better than a visit to the Lion's Den (near the Kosciuszko stop), home to one of the strangest jumbles of vintage clothes, furniture, and other assorted, useful junk we've ever laid eyes on. Best followed up by a well deserved beer and a shot just down the street at Lone Wolf, if for no other reason than the similarly themed name. With Goodbye Blue Monday right next door and a cluster of bars and restaurants nearby at Myrtle-Broadway, there's no reason you'll ever need to leave.
The Lion's Den, 1113 Broadway
Lone Wolf, 1089 Broadway
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.