A day in Red Hook

Do as the locals do in this laid-back 'hood by checking out its quirky stores, vintage watering holes and more.

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  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Stumptown Brew Bar

    Stumptown Brew Bar

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Stumptown Brew Bar

    Stumptown Brew Bar

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Stumptown Brew Bar

    Stumptown Brew Bar

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Stumptown Brew Bar

    Stumptown Brew Bar

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Stumptown Brew Bar

    Stumptown Brew Bar

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Erie Basin

    Erie Basin

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Louis J. Valentino Park

    Louis J. Valentino Park

  • Waterfront Showboat Museum

    Waterfront Showboat Museum

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Fort Defiance

    Fort Defiance

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Fort Defiance

    Fort Defiance

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Fort Defiance

    Fort Defiance

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Fort Defiance

    Fort Defiance

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Fort Defiance

    Fort Defiance

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    The Good Fork

    The Good Fork

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    The Good Fork

    The Good Fork

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Vegetable Taco from Country Boys

    Vegetable Taco from Country Boys

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar

  • Photograph: Beth Levendis

    Sunny's Bar

    Sunny's Bar

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Stumptown Brew Bar

Stumptown Brew Bar

11am


Don't let the weekend crowds that flock to Ikea and Fairway Market fool you: Red Hook's DIY spirit and seaside-village feel are still alive and well. Kick off your exploration of the neighborhood with a stop at Baked (359 Van Brunt St between Dikeman and Wolcott Sts; 718-222-0345, bakednyc.com), a charming cake shop that serves gooey cinnamon buns ($2.50) and Southern-style biscuits ($2) made on-site each morning. (Pick up something for the road—you'll be walking a lot today.) Nibble as you stroll to the no-frills Stumptown Brew Bar (219 Van Brunt St at Commerce St; stumptowncoffee.com), where neato brewing techniques— such as siphoning, a complex process in which hot water shoots up a glass tube to mix with coffee grounds—are used to craft your cup of joe ($3--$5).

Noon


Now that you're fed and alert, hit the shops along Van Brunt Street, the neighborhood's liveliest drag. Start at Everbrite Mercantile Company (351 Van Brunt St between Dikeman and Wolcott Sts; 718-522-6121, ebmerc.com) and comb through a hodgepodge of quirky vintage finds. Continue up the block to Erie Basin (388 Van Brunt St at Dikeman St; 718-554-6147, eriebasin.com), where you can peruse (through museum-glass encasements) Art Deco rings ($300--$5,000), 19th-century brooches ($50--$600), and other antique items sourced by owner Russell Whitmore.

2pm


Take a load off and enjoy a snack on one of the benches at Louis J. Valentino Park (Coffey St at Ferris St; nycgovparks.org), where you can marvel at the sweeping view of the Statue of Liberty. Thus fortified, climb aboard the nearby Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge (290 Conover St at Pier 44; 718-624-4719, waterfrontmuseum.org; donations suggested) and check out videos of museum president David Sharps restoring the 1914 cargo ship. Once you're back on land, drop into Kentler International Drawing Space (353 Van Brunt St between Dikeman and Wolcott Sts; 718-875-2098, kentlergallery.org); this Saturday, curator Roberta Waddell will discuss the gallery's latest exhibit, "Marked Differences" (Sat 18 at 4pm; free), featuring pieces from the Kentler Flatfiles, the gallery's collection of illustrations and drawings.

5:30pm


You've walked enough; it's time for a drink. Head to the elegant bar at Fort Defiance (365 Van Brunt St at Dikeman St; 347-453-6672, fortdefiancebrooklyn.com) for a carefully concocted cocktail, such as the Criterium (made with grapefruit juice and Milanese amaro; $8). By now, you should be famished—a block away, you can nab a table at homey restaurant The Good Fork (391 Van Brunt St between Coffey and Van Dyke Sts; 718-643-6636, goodfork.com) and enjoy dishes like roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and black-bean sauce ($19). Or for a cheaper option, stroll over to Red Hook Park and pick up some grub to-go from the famous Red Hook Food Vendors (Bay St at Clinton St; redhookfoodvendors.com) before they close up shop at 9pm. We suggest lining your stomach with the beef or pork tacos (two for $6) from Country Boys.

8pm


Take in more of the neighborhood's sights by strolling along the waterfront; nearby, you'll find the gigantic, defunct Columbia Street grain terminal, a structure that's romantic in a decrepit-mansion-from--Edward Scissorhands sort of way.

11pm


Finish your night with a mini bar crawl: First, get comfy in the back garden at the Brooklyn Ice House (318 Van Brunt St at Pioneer St; 718-222-1865), where you can sip selections from a dozens-strong beer list—try a smooth Samuel Smith pale ale ($5). Keep your buzz going at neighborhood institution Sunny's (253 Conover St between Beard and Reed Sts; 718-625-8211, sunnysredhook.com), which has been slinging drinks since the 1890s (check out its antique cash register, promotional Pabst lamps from the '40s and more knickknacks from decades past). Opt for a can of PBR ($3) and view the art on display in the back—regulars will point you to paintings by the bar's long-haired, super-friendly seventysomething owner Sunny Balzano. Once you've imbibed a can (or three), don't bother trying to stumble all the way to the train; the kindly bartender will happily call a car service for your trip home.


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Users say

3 comments
Anonymous
Anonymous

Stumptown tasting room is closed. Also try the pop-up store Lion's Share which has lots of cool vintage clothes for men and women. In addition to Homemade that the other commentor noted, Kevin's has a really good brunch. It's quieter than Fort D and Homemade. Finally, you omitted the Red Hook Lobster Pound!

Anonymous
Anonymous

You missed a few great ones, particularly Home/Made at Pioneer and Van Brunt. Easier to get a table there than the Good Fork.

dry dock
dry dock

Add dry dock wine + spirts, Red Hook's neighborhood wine & spirits store, to your lists of place to check out. Offering outstanding value and high quality from smaller vintners, producers & importers from around the world. OUT Magazine describes as "beautifully edited" with over 400 hand-picked wines, including 50 choices priced $12 and under, and an eclectic selection of hard-to-find craft distilled spirits, that includes over 75 whisk(e)y choices. Free wine & spirits tastings weekly (Fri 5:30-8:30pm & Sat 4-7pm)