A day in Bedford-Stuyvesant

Bed-Stuy boasts beautiful 19th-century houses and destination-worthy eats.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    CasaBAN

  • Photograph: Courtesy Project Parlor

    Project Parlor

    Project Parlor

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Miss Master's Closet

  • chicken &shrimp pad see-ew Background vegetables:long beans tai chilis, rock...

    Umi Nom

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    One Last Shag

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

CasaBAN

Noon


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).

2pm


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).

3pm


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).

5pm


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.

7:30pm


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).

10pm


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

Rae McGrath
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."

Justin Warner
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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7 comments
Real Truth
Real Truth

The bottom line Anonymous is making is the writer and most of bed stuy's "new" residents walk past every store that doesn't have people like them working or shopping there. Period.

Andrew
Andrew

I've lived in the eastern part of Bed-Stuy's Stuyvesant Heights for six years and I've seen a lot of change happen in this short period of time. I went from having Peaches and the now-defunct (but great) Solomon's Porch, to having Saraghina, Thee Seven Sisters, Jeffery's, Celestino, Delhi Heights, and Therapy Wine Bar (A bar!) to name a few of the places that have opened up recently--some just within the past year. The bodegas have started stocking better quality food that isn't past its shelf life, people are renovating their homes. All of this is happening largely without any sort of "white gentrification." Although I do see a handful of new white people nowadays, the neighborhood is overwhelmingly the same as I suspect it has been for several generations. I've seen the same home-owning families for the past six years and I like it that way. A neighborhood doesn't have to change, demographically, to get better.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I've lived in Bed-Stuy for four years, and as much as I understand a desire to hang on to identity - these new cafe's and hangouts are what make me want to stay in the neighborhood. This so called 'gentrification' is just a part of any big city, it's the way it is. Things change, communities come and go. Way back when, Clinton Hill was where New York's richest landowners lived. Then they moved out, the place changed. It's changing again. It happens. There are plenty of places that don't get gentrified - Nevada, the Congo, Outer Mongolia. No one who lives in New York can claim ownership of a neighborhood. She owns us, not the other way round. If it worked the other way, then we'd all be visiting the Lenape region of Canarsee...

l.massey
l.massey

And no mention of the Tip-Top. A real Bed Sty joint.

The Truth
The Truth

To the commentor below-- Why don't you name some business we should support besides these then? To make criticism without being constructive falls on def ears and makes one sound only bitter. I live in Bed-Stuy and yes, the people who have been here many years (including myself) are a proud bunch. But the shops here for the most part over the years don't meet the needs of the residents. No bakery, no pharmacy, no card shop, no shipping place/copies--- Not to mention they serve below grade, unhealthy, processed food and create obesity. Wake up and stop trying to hold on to something that didn't exsist in the past. OR name some eateries and shops YOU frequent that have been here for years. Bed-Stuy is moving forward and away from the Do Or Die mantra. Embrace it.

The Truth
The Truth

To the commentor above-- Why don't you name some business we should support besides these then? To make criticism without being constructive falls on def ears and makes one sound only bitter. I live in Bed-Stuy and yes, the people who have been here many years (including myself) are a proud bunch. But the shops here for the most part over the years don't meet the needs of the residents. No bakery, no pharmacy, no card shop, no shipping place/copies--- Not to mention they serve below grade, unhealthy, processed food and create obesity. Wake up and stop trying to hold on to something that didn't exsist in the past. OR name some eateries and shops YOU frequent that have been here for years. Bed-Stuy is moving forward and away from the Do Or Die mantra. Embrace it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

You have managed to write a "gentrifier's manual." Every single one of these businesses is a new one. The truth is Bed-Stuy has been a vibrant community, even before all of these new places showed up. It's a shame that you are directing people to come to the community, and to only support new businesses, when there have been folks in the community well before any of these new, hip places opened. And those are the folks who will be here once the next neighborhood becomes hot. Feel free to write about Bed-Stuy, but don't embarrass yourself