I am so excited to be kicking off the first post of a new travel series here on the blog: NYC neighborhood guides. I find that these are the types of posts that I tend to read the most if I'm looking to explore a new neighborhood or uncover some new stuff about one of my favorites. I'll plan on posting a neighborhood guide every month. First up is the hood that I currently reside in, East Williamsburg! If you're not familiar, East Williamsburg is a neighborhood just a few stops off the L train into Brooklyn. It's not as busy as Williamsburg proper, and there's so much to do. I've outlined below lots of options for breakfast, sightseeing and shopping and have laid out where to get the best coffee, pizza and where to go out. So take some time someday soon and check out what to do in East Williamsburg and see all that it has to offer (a.k.a., live like me for the day!)
Breakfast + Brunch
The Bagel Store
If you’re in the mood for something a little on the sweet side—not to mention something totally Instagrammable—you must pay a trip to The Bagel Store. Located right off the Graham Avenue stop, it has become famous for being the first to pioneer the rainbow bagel. They’ve taken it several steps further and have everything from cannoli cream cheese, to bagels for different holidays. Just a heads up, they’re cash only!
If you’re in the mood for a Very Brooklyn Brunch, definitely hit up Ringolevio on the weekends. They have all the brunch classics that you could want, not to mention a cozy atmosphere with vintage records stacked behind the bar.
Harefield has changed a lot in even the few years I’ve lived in East Williamsburg, with a neon sign pointing to the door urging locals to pop in for a drink between the subway and their doorsteps. If it’s a warm day, definitely take advantage of their back patio. Lots of people who enjoy a late night beverage there will often trek back in for the delicious brunch in the AM.
C. Lo Cafe
This cafe is as bright and friendly as its owners. It’s all of the brunch that you love with a Guatemalan twist—huevos rancheros, aguacate toast and breakfast tostadas are just a few of the delicious options that C. Lo has to offer. They also brew Toby’s Estate coffee and make delicious Bloody Mary’s. What more could you ask for?
Shopping + Sightseeing
Ever dream of walking into a beauty parlor from the ‘70s but with a bit of a modern twist? Wild Oleander will fulfill every one of those marmalade beauty bar dreams. They specialize in nails, waxing and facials and if the tropical decor and incredible nail designs aren’t enough, there’s also a selection of vintage clothing for you to browse through. You know, after your nails dry.
L Train Vintage
Even though this is a chain, each L Train Vintage location still feels like an awesome previously undiscovered entity. Their selection and pricing is some of the best that you’ll encounter as far as vintage clothing in NYC and it’s always fun to pop in and see what’s new since you’ve last been there.
One of the things I love most about East Williamsburg is easy access to Cooper Park. It was recently renovated and now includes a huge lawn, play areas for kids, a skate park, tennis courts, basketball courts and a dog park. I love sitting out there during the summer and reading by myself or grabbing my roommates and playing some board games. There are also often movie screenings in the summer months.
For the more health conscious coffee lover (or if you didn’t get snaps of your rainbow bagel) definitely check out The End off of the Lorimer stop. Their incredible “lattes” are almost more like concoctions from a unicorn latte to a amethyst latte that are actually good for you in addition to being adorable.
Variety has become my go-to place in Williamsburg for coffee and honestly it never disappoints. From perfectly blended brews to flaky chocolate croissants, this place has got me written all over it. The staff is so friendly and the cafe is the perfect place to catch up over a cup of joe. They have many locations in the city, but this one by the Graham stop takes the cake for me.
Black Star Bakery & Cafe
If you’d like to go to a cafe with a little more substance (like yummy avo toast served in the mornings) and you really like the all-white interiors trend, you’ll love Black Star. They make a delicious iced coffee in the summer months and their pastries are also great. It's a good place to bring your laptop and get lost in the workflow for a few hours.
Forcella La Pizza de Napoli
If it was my last day on earth and I could eat any meal, I would choose Forcella. Their pizzas taste straight out of Italy with its fresh ingredients like amazing tomato sauce and yummy mozzarella cheese, and the thick crust tastes absolutely unreal. I don't usually get them because the pizza overtakes my mind, but they also have pastas and salads all made with the same Italian TLC.
If you want to splurge on some steaks and don’t feel like hitting up Peter Luger, opt for the lovely DeStefano’s Steakhouse. Their tasty steaks will not disappoint and neither will their selection of wine. Andrew took me here for my birthday last year and everything was perfect, from the friendly service to the juicy cuts.
If you want no-nonsense burgers and a rotating selection of New York craft beers, you can’t go wrong with Mother's. They’ve got lots of different options from classic burgers to BLTs, all at very reasonable prices. If it’s a warm summer night, take your food out back to the patio and make yourself comfortable.
If Forcella is the pizza straight from Italy, Williamsburg Pizza perfectly embodies New York City. They are best known for their Brooklyn pie, perfect for sharing with friends while watching the latest episode of your favorite show. Sprinkle a bit of garlic powder on top of it for maximum deliciousness.
If you like rock ‘n’ roll and like to go somewhere where the crowd is always a little unpredictable, Rocka Rolla might be perfect for you. Their drinks range from huge (see photo of me holding a margarita the size of my head) to dangerous (order the tequila-infused Coffee Thing and see where your night takes you) and the whole shebang is DJ-ed by the patrons who control the music through a vintage jukebox.
Night of Joy
If you’re in the mood for something a little laid-back with a mysterious vibe to it, check out Night of Joy. The interior is full of cool mismatched furniture and vintage wallpaper and it almost feels like you’ve been transported back in time. Make sure to head up to the rooftop if the weather is good and enjoy their happy hour margs.
Nothing will ruin a friendship faster than a round of the four-person Pacman game at Barcade, so you should absolutely plan to go there with your best friends this weekend. Pro tip: head over on the early side and go elsewhere before 10pm to avoid major lines for the games and crowds. This bar is pretty spacious and contains lots of arcade classics.
If you’re looking for an intimate place for a couple of after-work cocktails, Little King is perfect for you. The bar and restaurant may be tiny, but the atmosphere makes it feel luxurious. They have lots of plates to share if you’re craving a quick bite and a small but nice selection of wines and craft beers.
Have you been to East Williamsburg? What's your favorite spot?