A day in Park Slope
Hit the Brooklyn 'hood's vintage shops, craft-beer haunts, new arrivals and picturesque brownstones.
Mon Sep 19 2011
Photograph: Courtesy Crespella
Photograph: Alex Strada
The Community Bookstore
Photograph: Courtesy Old Stone House
Old Stone House
Old Stone House
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Culture: An American Yogurt Company
Photograph: Sam Horine
Photograph: Courtesy Beacon's Closet
Photograph: Eric Harvey Brown
Bark Hot Dogs
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Photograph: Courtesy Crespella
You don't need to be a breeder to enjoy the charms of this Brooklyn 'hood. Start your exploration on Seventh Avenue, one of the neighborhood's thriving commercial arteries. Nab a street-facing stool at the cozy crpes-and-coffee shop Crespella (321 Seventh Ave between 8th and 9th Sts; 718-788-2980, crespellabk.com), which opened last November. The eatery slings savory and sweet varieties of the French staple—the No. 1, stuffed with Nutella ($6), goes well with a French-press pot of Stumptown coffee ($2).
Now that you're fully charged, walk north on Seventh Avenue and duck into The Community Bookstore (143 Seventh Ave between Carroll St and Garfield Pl; 718-783-3075, communitybookstore.net), a friendly shop that's remained a proponent of the borough's literary scene since 1971. While the store itself is small, the selection is extensive; you can't go wrong by checking out the staff-picks shelf, which recently promoted Lev Grossman's The Magicians (Penguin, $16) and Robert Walser's The Tanners (New Directions, $15.95).But watch your feet—the shop is home to several animals, including a tabby named Tiny.
Head down a wide, tree-lined stretch of 3rd Street toward Sixth Avenue to see some of the brownstones for which the neighborhood is justly famous. Keep an eye out for boxes of freebies on stoops—this area offers some of the best high-end street-scavenging in the city. Continue to the Old Stone House (Washington Park at J.J. Byrne Playground, 3rd St between Fourth and Fifth Aves; 718-768-3195, theoldstonehouse.org), a reconstruction of an 18th-century domicile. The tiny institution is open on weekends (Sat, Sun 11am--4pm; suggested donation $3), and showcases uniforms, weapons and maps from the Battle of Brooklyn, one of the first major bouts of the Revolutionary War. Cycling fiends who want to take advantage of the area's bike lanes (including the contentious one along Prospect Park West) can convene at the Brooklyn Bike Jumble (Sat 24 10am--4pm; free) to find new rides, gear and athletic wear from local vendors.
Across the street, Culture: An American Yogurt Company (331 Fifth Ave between 3rd and 4th Sts, 718-499-0207), which opened in April, serves addictive fro-yo that's made on-site using a proprietary yogurt culture. Try the tart, refreshing original variety ($3--$5.75), and don't miss out on toppings—the key-lime custard and graham-cracker crumble ($1) is especially delicious. This fall, the owners expect to roll out seasonal flavors like pumpkin, apple and possibly even sweet potato.
Poke around the newest Housing Works Thrift Shop (266 Fifth Ave at Garfield Pl; 718-636-2271, shophousingworks.com), which opened in April. The small space offers the usual thrift-store finds, including used books ($3--$10) and vintage clothing for guys and gals ($8--$50), along with an interesting selection of antique furniture. (We recently spotted a dining table from the late 19th-century; $245).
At craft-brew haven Bierkraft (191 Fifth Ave between Berkeley Pl and Union St; 718-230-7600, bierkraft.com), you can split a 64-ounce growler of suds for as little as $9.95 (brews from Sly Fox and Sixpoint, along with seasonal selections, often pop up in the rotation). Take over one of the wooden picnic tables in the no-frills back garden and make an early dinner out of your visit by ordering an equally sharable sub from the deli counter, such as the Italian ($10), piled high with house-roasted ham, sopressata and pecorino cheese.
Search for some new-old threads at the vintage shops that line this stretch of Fifth Avenue. Scope out the cases of vintage accessories at Guvnor's Vintage Thrift (178 Fifth Ave between Sackett and DeGraw Sts; 718-230-4887, guvnorsnyc.com) and cool dresses from the '50s and '60s at Odd Twin (154 Fifth Ave at DeGraw St; 718-ODD-TWIN, oddtwin.com). While Beacon's Closet (92 Fifth Ave at Warren St; 718-230-1630, beaconscloset.com) is typically crowded on weekend afternoons, if you show up on the later side, you'll have ample room as you pick through its selection of funky jewelry ($10--$25) and LPs (from $10).
Despite Fourth Avenue's industrial appearance (it's home to a plethora of auto-body shops), the thoroughfare is developing into an increasingly nightlife-friendly part of the Slope. Live-music fans have a new destination with The Rock Shop (249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts; 718-230-5740, therockshopny.com), housed in the former Cattyshack space. It's an especially good venue for indie rock: Stake out a spot in the intimate venue, and catch These United States when they take over the joint this weekend (Sat 24 at 8pm; $12).
Double back to Bark Hot Dogs (474 Bergen St at Flatbush Ave; 718-789-1939, barkhotdogs.com), which is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and pick up a couple of its signature tube steaks—we like the NYC Dog, a classic frank topped with sweet-and-sour onions and yellow mustard ($5). Bring your late-night snack to Mission Dolores (249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts; 718-399-0099, missiondoloresbar.com), an auto shop turned beer bar. The 20-strong draft list changes daily, but expect pours like of Ithaca Flower Power ($6), Goose Island Sofie ($7) and other high-ABV brews. On your last round, toast knowing firsthand that this always changing neighborhood has much more to offer than brownstone eye candy and baby-gear shops.
Why I love Park Slope
"Leopoldi Hardware (415 Fifth Ave between 7th and 8th Sts, 718-499-6563) is a family business that has gotten me out of more jams than I can count. They'll spend ten minutes looking for exactly the right-size bolt or washer or whatever, and then they'll charge you something like four cents."
Manager, Union Hall
"I'm proud to say I'm a regular at Bonnie's Grill (278 Fifth Ave between Garfield Pl and 1st St; 718-369-9527). The burger [cooked] medium with jalapenos and pickles, and fries (unless I'm feeling guilty and sub in a salad) and a Lone Star...heaven!"
View A day in Park Slope in a larger map