Long-term relationship walk

You've done everything else together-now what? Gawk at the culinary marvels of Sunset Park's Chinatown, revel in Bay Ridge's natural beauty and be reminded of why you and Poopsie have lasted this long.

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  • Ba Xuyen

  • Ba Xuyen

  • Ba Xuyen

  • Sunset Park

  • Sunset Park's Chinatown

  • Owl's Head Park

  • Owl's Head Park

  • Owl's Head Park

  • American Veterans Memorial Pier

  • Tanoreen

  • Ski Bar

  • Ski Bar

  • Ski Bar

Ba Xuyen

Photos: Carolyn Voagen Nelson

Start: 4222 Eighth Ave at 42nd St, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
End: 7314 Fifth Ave between 73rd and 74th Sts, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 7.4 miles

1 You and your significant other have watched (and rewatched) every episode of Arrested Development; you coo over every little thing your pet/child does; and you’ve (re)told that one crazy drug story from high school, like, a million times. Mix up the ol’ routine by heading directly to Ba Xuyn (4222 Eighth Ave at 42nd St, 718-633-6601), a Vietnamese foodie haven specializing in banh mi ($2--$6), perfectly toasted baguettes piled high with cilantro, pickled vegetables, pt and...well, you decide. The friendly kitchen offers fried pork, meatballs, chicken, sardines and more. (There’s a veggie-only option, too—unembellished, crispy, perfect.) Moreover, the staff is refreshingly ignorant of their gastro-cred: When we mentioned recent press to the woman making our sandwiches, she was wholly unaware, remarking, “We don’t get many English-language papers here.”

2 Take your banh mis to the top of Sunset Park (Sixth Ave at 42nd St, sunset-park.com) for an impromptu picnic—it’s the second-highest point in Brooklyn and offers a panoramic view of downtown Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island and New Jersey. If you’re feeling social, try to join one of the many pickup soccer games in session. Note to sweethearts: When illuminated at night, the skyline from this vantage point could serve as an NYU recruitment flyer.

3 Don’t get too lovey-dovey, because it’s about to get raw: Next stop is Sunset Park’s Chinatown, a rowdy marketplace filled with intriguing foodstuffs. The Seaport Seafood & Meat Market Inc. (5707 Eighth Ave between 57th and 58th Sts, 718-436-3288) is a bustling, glistening, creepy-crawly must-see grocery. Shrimp jump out of their cases; workers bludgeon live bass; turtles and frogs wade in tanks awaiting grisly culinary fates; and unidentifiable animal parts, pink and wet, sit on steel racks like something out of Saw. The prices are cheap ($4 for a pound of shrimp, cleaned but not peeled or deveined) and the ambience is wild. You haven’t truly cemented a relationship until you cook pig bladders together.

4 As you stroll around, take notice of the neighborhood’s great signage, like the cool, old-school storefront of 8th Avenue Shoe Repair (4905 Eighth Ave at 49th St, 718-972-5519). If the weather’s nice, you should see a little metal stand parked on Eighth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets; it’s monitored by a smiling woman and stocked with great food-on-a-stick. Curry fish balls, spicy tofu, squid chunks and many other combos are skewered and fried on the spot. Most of the delicacies cost $1 to $1.50, and they taste best fresh out of the sizzling grease and squirted with sriracha.

5 Like the comfortable chasm of years that spreads ahead of you and yours, the journey to Bay Ridge is fairly uneventful (it’s an industrial area bordered by major roads). But if you walk west toward the water at 67th Street, you’ll be privy to a narrow green strip which leads you to Owl’s Head Park (6700 Shore Rd at Colonial Rd, nycgovparks.org). In the late 19th century, an industrialist with the Dickensian handle Eliphalet W. Bliss turned this 27-acre onetime Canarsie Indian hangout into his private paradise. Today, Owl’s Head is one of the city’s loveliest, if least-appreciated, parks, featuring a dog run, a skate park and a San Francisco--steep hill that culminates in a gorgeous harbor view. It’s got some great makeout spots, too.

6 From the park, head over to the American Veterans Memorial Pier (Bay Ridge Ave at 69th St) where, for several decades, you could catch the ferry to St. George, Staten Island. Service ended the day after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened, in 1964; the construction was bitterly contested by the denizens of Bay Ridge, but none of that resentment seems to linger. ln fact, the pier gives off a utopian, suburban vibe: Loads of elderly fishermen set up their rods here, while couples hold hands and wobble around awkwardly on Rollerblades. Welcome to your forties.

7 Once you’ve hung out (made out? proposed?) on the pier, walk along the Bay Ridge promenade (Owl’s Head Park to 80th St), a wide path for pedestrians that runs along the water and parallel to the Belt Parkway. No, really, it is scenic and lovely. Exit at 80th Street to admire the diverse architecture that overlooks the harbor on Shore Road. You’ll find stone cottages, Greek Revival houses and a mishmash of homes under the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. Stroll up 80th and make a right onto Harbor View Terrace, an idyllic block with eclectic houses—the kind you thought you’d have to move to Connecticut to buy. (Don’t get your hopes too high—these are even more expensive.)

8 Even if you’re not starving, swing by Hinsch’s Confectionery (8518 Fifth Ave between 85th and 86th Sts, 718-748-2854), a well-preserved luncheonette in business since 1949. The ice cream is delicious and homemade (try the chocolate malted), and the exterior neon signs and interior are so much like a 1950s time capsule that you almost expect Annette Funicello to slide onto an adjacent stool.

9 What else do boring, long-term couples like to do? Bargain shop, of course! (Extra points if you answered, “Buy in bulk.”) Unlike the branch in lower Manhattan, Bay Ridge’s Century 21 (537 86th St at Fifth Ave; 718-748-3266, c21stores.com) is fairly tourist-free—but the shoppers are just as diverse. And although the merch caters to an even more logo-obsessed, rhinestone-crazy customer, there are major perks to shopping here: It’s far less crowded, the stock isn’t nearly as depleted, and the prices are lower. On our recent visit, there were racks of Marc Jacobs shoes, all priced under $150.

10 Hinsch’s milky treats surely whet your appetite—and you’ll need it for Tanoreen (7704 Third Ave between 77th and 78th Sts; 718-748-5600, tanoreen.com), a Middle Eastern restaurant where the portions are big and the flavors are bigger. It’s BYOB, so grab a frosty six-pack from the deli next door and order the cold, crispy cauliflower drizzled with pomegranate, spicy mashed walnut spread and fattoush—a highly snackable salad with bits of pita in it (a small is $7, plus $2 for feta). And those are just the appetizers; with the entres, lamb is the specialty, and it appears in many forms (ground, chopped, cubed, grilled on a stick and rubbed in house-blended spices).

11 Finish off the day by getting plastered—it’s the only way you’ll score, right?—at Ski Bar (7314 Fifth Ave between 73rd and 74th Sts; 718-630-5266, skibarny.com)). Never mind the kitschy, half-assed Alpine theme, there are seriously good beers available (stop by for the weekly beer tastings—there’s one for Flying Dog Canis Major, Wednesday 6; $12 for four 12-ounce selections), as well as live bands twice a month and a Friday happy hour that features half-price pints of all the 24 draft selections from 3 to 8pm. Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find a drinking hole in Bay Ridge that isn’t a sports bar paneled with flat-screen TVs. Grab the last vestiges of your hipsterdom by the balls and order a round of Jager shots—because nothing screams true love like holding her hair back at the end of the night.


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