It would probably take three whole days to walk from one end of Brooklyn to the other — a nice thought, but you probably don’t have the time or the stamina to do it. Don’t worry though, allow us to provide you with eight stretches of outer-borough excitement, from Greenpoint to Red Hook (and if you get tired, you can always get on the trusty B61)
Manhattan Ave looks like some misplaced continental high street brimming with haberdasheries, bakeries and butchers hawking slaughtered beasts. Pasty-faced men in tracksuits walk with frosty-haired blondes with UV glows, while broad Catholic widows block the aisles of the fruit and vegetable stands.
Best Antidote to Blockbuster: #933, Photo-play
Each one of us carries that list in our heads of movies we want or need to see. This auteur-worshipping shop has most of them, categorized the way they should be -— by country and director.
Saddest Corner: #996, Episode Bar & Grill
Away from the avenue’s dense commercial buzz sits this empty carcass of revelry. The hard men and loose women who drank and told lies there have moved to other neighborhoods, grown too old for hangovers or simply passed on.
Best Example of Vinyl Heaven: #1001, The Thing
The basement at this antique store is the sum of every LP-filled attic you’ve ever remembered. Browse and sneeze your way through a truly exceptional collection — just follow their rules!
Craziest Timewarp: #1032, Simon’s Hardware
Among the screws and saws and brass and bargains you expect to see a dust-covered Rod Serling narrating in the corner. Walking out you’re surprised the rest of the world’s watch is still set to now.
Grand Street between the East River and the BQE has seen a lot of changes in the last five years. Starting at the little park right on the river (which offers a spectacular view of Midtown and the East River bridges to the south) a walk along Grand reveals a slew of new restaurants, bars, galleries and upscale stores, making it a perpendicular counterweight to Williamsburg’s main drag, Bedford Avenue. Grand Street proper continues on after the BQE into deepest, darkest Queens — but you’ll need a car to enjoy it.
Best Vegan BBQ Wings: #295, Foodswings
Is it meat? No. Are you sure? Yes. Really?!
Best Piedmontese Meal: #70, Aurora
Only the northern Italians can do casual chic this well.
Best Ping Pong Game: #180, Iona
Ever played ping pong in a thunderstorm? Visit the back garden (open soon…)
Least Likely Endeavor to Make its Proprietors Rich (but nonetheless admirable): #131, The Free Store
Bring in your old junk and they’ll trade you some of theirs. It’s a steal!
Best Old Jeans: #335, Ghostown
Damn fine vintage wear for the slim and happy.
Most Notorious Scenester: Captain Kidd.
350 years ago the notorious pirate used to come visit his pal Jean Mesurolle, who had a farmstead between S7th and N1st Sts. Rumor has it his ghost drinks at Clem’s (#264)
It’s not easy being close to the BQE, Robert Moses’ monstrous elevated superhighway. The combination of noise and shadow, along with the 18-wheelers barreling along side streets can drive a person nuts… so it’s amazing that a little stretch of Union Ave, between the BQE and Grand, is actually a destination point in Williamsburg. Trivia moment: Many of the streets around Union were named for signers of the Declaration of Independence, like Hooper, Hewes and Keap. But wait, there’s no Keap on the document! Right. Apparently for a long time people read Thomas McKean’s signature as Thomas M. Keap, and went around naming things erroneously. Fools.