A day in Bedford-Stuyvesant
Bed-Stuy boasts beautiful 19th-century houses and destination-worthy eats.
Fri Sep 16 2011
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Bed-Stuy is often described as an emerging neighborhood, but many of the elements that make the Brooklyn area desirable today—gorgeous architecture, a strong sense of community, homegrown businesses—have always been a part of its makeup. Start your tour at homey eatery Peaches (393 Lewis Ave between Decatur and MacDonough Sts, peachesbrooklyn.com) which opened in 2008. Fill up on Southern-inspired dishes, such as the classic shrimp and grits ($16).
Stroll by five-year-old Brooklynite Gallery (334 Malcolm X Blvd at Bainbridge St; 347-405-5976, brooklynitegallery.com), whose rear facade incorporates recycled fridge doors. There's also a scrolling LED banner above the front door. Hang a left on MacDonough Street, which has been a competitor in the annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest (the section between Lewis and Stuyvesant Streets is especially pretty). Next, stop in CasaBAN (397 Tompkins Ave at Jefferson Ave, 917-607-3838).The small shop features an eclectic selection of antique and new furniture, all of which is handpicked by owner Ban Leow. Recently, we spotted a handmade Danish rocker ($550) and a coffee table made out of a surfboard ($250).
Parts of Bed-Stuy were designated a historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the 1970s, and recently, community members have fought to award landmark status to more sections of the neighborhood.The area's 19th-century houses were built in a variety of architectural styles, including Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival. Stroll up Marcus Garvey Boulevard or Throop Avenue to see a few of these pretty homes. Continue up to Myrtle Avenue and make a left; Project Parlor (742 Myrtle Ave between Nostrand Ave and Sandford St,347-497-0550) is a two-year-old bar that caters to locals and students from nearby Pratt Institute. Plop down on one of the velvet couches with a Guinness float ($8).
After your tipple, walk down Bedford Avenue and stop at SCRATCHbread (1069 Bedford Ave at Lexington Ave, scratchbread.com). Owner Matthew Tilden operates this small takeout window stocked with baked goods, including buttery shortbread ($2). Tilden's treats sell out quickly, so the earlier you can get there, the better. Just up the block, you'll find Miss Master's Closet (1070 Bedford Ave between Greene St and Clifton Pl, missmasterscloset.com), a vintage-clothing shop,which opened earlier this month. Owner Jessica Master sells men's and women's clothing from a variety of eras.
Chef King Phojanakong's Thai-Filipino-Vietnamese restaurant, Umi Nom (433 DeKalb Ave between Classon Ave and Taaffe Pl; 718-789-8806, uminom.com), was among the first high-profile eateries to spring up in Bed-Stuy, nearly two years ago. Located in a converted Laundromat, the restaurant remains a neighborhood favorite, thanks to Phojanakong's bold, inventive menu. Choose from an array of small plates, such as the chili-glazed wok prawns ($12), barbecue ribs with lemongrass ($11) and classic spring rolls ($8.50).
Cut loose at One Last Shag (348 Franklin Ave between Greene and Lexington Aves, 718-398-2472). An eclectic, queer-leaning crowd congregates at this narrow bar, and DJs spin house, electronica and hip-hop nearly every night of the week. As long as the weather is still nice, we recommend taking a margaveza (a mix of frozen margarita and Shock Top beer, $7) out to the establishment's pretty backyard, which is lined with twinkling lights.
Why I love Bedford-Stuyvesant
Owner, Brooklynite Gallery
"Bed-Stuy is the real Brooklyn. I'm proud of [the area's]positive history and culture that is deeply rooted in the African-American history of this country. [I] like going to Saraghina (435 Halsey St at Lewis Ave, 718-574-0010) for delectable authentic Italian cuisine and Liquid Oz (302 Malcolm X Blvd at Halsey St, 347-378-2500), a local caf that has delicious sandwiches, pastries and beverages."
Chef, Do or Dine
"I've never felt more at home [than in Bed-Stuy]. I love Tony's Country Life (1316 Fulton St at Nostrand Ave, 718-789-2040), because they have an amazing selection of crazy foodstuffs."
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