Bushwick, Brooklyn neighborhood guide

Our guide to Bushwick, Brooklyn and all its weird glory includes the best restaurants, bars, shops and in the 'hood

Bushwick
Photogrpah: ShutterstockBushwick

Bushwick, Brooklyn borders Williamsburg, but we think the “hipster” neighborhood has migrated to ’Shwick. From its photogenic graffitied streets to the nightlife ranging from drag shows to hilarious comedy events, it’s certainly an artistic and talented community. We love the area most of all for its coffee shops with dreamy backyards as well as its pizza shops.

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Where to eat in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Roberta’s
Restaurants Book online

Roberta’s

Buzzing with urban-farming fund-raisers, local brewers pouring their ales and food-world luminaries fresh off Heritage Radio interviews, this sprawling hangout has become the unofficial meeting place for Brooklyn's sustainable-food movement. Opened in 2008, Roberta's features its own rooftop garden, a food-focused Internet-radio station and a kitchen that turns out excellent, locally sourced dishes, such as delicate bibb lettuce with red-cherry vinaigrette or linguine carbonara made with lamb pancetta. It also doesn't hurt that the pizzas—like the Cheesus Christ, topped with mozzarella, Taleggio, Parmesan, black pepper and cream—are among the borough's best.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Faro
Restaurants

Faro

Northeast Kingdom alum Kevin Adey expands on his alma mater's locavore ethos at this modern Italian outfit, milling upstate flour in house for pastas like gnocchi sardi with goat and green-garlic lumache with poached egg. A wood-burning oven cranks out meaty mains for plates that change daily, like duck breast with rhubarb and fennel, and strip loin with silage-roasted potatoes—as the menu touts, all the carne is dutifully sourced from Autumn's Harvest Farms in Romulus, New York. Overlooking the open kitchen in the front of house lies an eight-seat bar focused on American craft beers, an extensive wine list, and seasonal cocktails. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Bunna Cafe
Restaurants

Bunna Cafe

When shrimp-and-grits staple Mama Joy's bowed out of Bushwick, it made way for a restaurant with roots touching even farther south: Ethiopia. Founded by Sam Saverance and Ethiopian expat Liyuw Ayalew, the wandering vegan pop-up—running in North Brooklyn since 2011—hosted African lunches out of Mama's vacant space starting in July 2013 and has since moved in permanently. The brick-walled joint honors Ethiopia—widely hailed as the birthplace of coffee—with traditional coffee ceremonies and live Abyssinian music. Java is made in a jebena pot and infused with cloves and cardamom, served with snacks like ambasha bread or cooked barley. Those looking for heartier options can dig into vegetarian plates, served on a bed of injera bread, like misir wot (red lentils in berbere sauce), keysir selata (sautéed and chilled beets) and shiro (garlicky ground chickpeas). Along with pureed juices (mango-avocado-papaya), beverages include Ethiopian beers (Castel, Harar), tej (honey wine) and cocktails, such as a whiskey-spiked Shai spiced tea.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
El Cortez
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El Cortez

It sure is hard to miss—a giant totem pole and bas-relief sun exist in stark contrast to the gritty, chain-fenced warehouses nearby, a no-name-necessary marker for this messy, multicultural fantasyland of a bar from the Commodore cohorts Stephen Tanner and Chris Young. Inside, Aztec-temple murals and banana-leaf wallpaper anchor the retro-soundtracked room, where Hawaiian-shirt-clad servers bustle towering hurricane glasses and taco salads to a crush of fringe-booted women and man-bunned guys. And as with the soul food kitsch of the Commodore, El Cortez is best enjoyed when you surrender to its haphazard mélange of influences, precariously straddling the line between loudly garish and really fucking fun. ORDER THIS: Tiki touchstones flaunting mini-umbrellas and pineapple wedges pad the cocktail list, printed on vintage numbered place mats. The stiffest of the bunch is a rum-soaked zombie ($12), with a knock-you-cold first sip of 151 float, while a similarly sweet yet slightly tamer Flor de Muertos ($11) brightens smoky mescal and woody reposado tequila with splashes of tart velvet falernum. The bar replicates that mall-chain novelty, the Orange Julius, as a frozen, goes-down-easy Orange Julio ($11), sloshing floral gin and elderflower liqueur with fresh OJ. GOOD FOR: Junk-food evangelist Tanner tenders gluttonous Mexican-ish comfort plates to sop up those saccharine pours. While the Tex-Mex trend earned a resounding thumbs-down across the river (lo siento, El Original), the

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
More amazing grub in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Grab drinks in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Boobie Trap
Bars

Boobie Trap

When you hear “boobs and beer,” you think Hooters. But even that iconic paean to cleavage and canned suds gets some serious competition from this Bushwick bar and breastaurant from Iggy’s drink slinger Kristen North. Lady lumps abound at the brazen, retro-kitted dive—done up with hot-pink lights and heaps of B-movie camp—but hidden beneath the nip-slip kitsch is a surprisingly respectable neighborhood hangout. ORDER THIS: Cheap-as-hell tall boys. Big-name domestic cans like Bud and Blue Moon ($4–$7) reign at the bar, but two draft lines sprouting from a naked mannequin pour one light (Pacífico) and one dark (Negra Modelo) brew. On the spirits front, jugs of margaritas are heavy-handed on the tequila, so your $25 is well spent—and at happy hour, they’re $18. GOOD FOR: Letting your freak flag fly high. The bathroom ceiling is tiled with rubber knockers lit by a chandelier of Barbies, the gold zebra-printed walls are nailed with ’90s troll dolls and plastic dinosaurs, and a neon sign boldly proclaims fuck off from behind the bar. Play rounds of childhood favorites like Monopoly on tables with built-in boards or snatch nudie coloring pages and crayons from the bartender, who will be dressed in a cheerleader’s uniform. THE CLINCHER: For a bar heavy on gimmick, the down-home Southern grub is remarkably on point. Smoked meats, including tender, braised chicken with a mesquite bite ($9), and sides like Cajun macaroni and cheese ($3) and fluffy jalapeño cornbread muffins ($2), are

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Pine Box Rock Shop
Bars

Pine Box Rock Shop

Sixteen taps dispense craft brews (Lagunitas, Clown Shoes) at this Bushwick beer bar, which is named after the space's former occupant, a coffin factory.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Bossa Nova Civic Club
Clubs

Bossa Nova Civic Club

This “tropical fantasy dance club” is another staple in the thriving Bushwick scene—setting itself apart from its competitors with a legitimate sound system and consistently hot lineups of underground house and techno DJs manning the decks. The bar only opened its doors in December of 2012, but it's already made a big name for itself in the community, curating its own stage at Sustain-Release—going into its second edition this September—and hosting numerous industry pioneers. Bossa's “DJ résumé” continues to impress—highlights include: Adam X, Ron Morelli, Heather Heart, Marcos Cabral, Reade Truth, Jamie xx, Henning Baer and Mike Simonetti.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Dromedary Bar

Dromedary Bar

Looking for a bit of island spirit in the city? Head to Dromedary Bar for the urban tiki experience. The Bushwick bar serves up riffs on classic tropical drinks, like the banana daiquiri–esque Marlin Chasing a Mermaid ($11), a combination of cognac, mezcal, banana, lemon and rose. Island flavors crop up all over the drink menu, like in the gin-based Coconut Soda ($11), which gets a frothy texture fro creamy coconut milk and sparkling LaCroix. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s also a selection of beers on tap ($5–$8). In the kitchen, Chef Galen Duncan churns out a menu of classic pub fare. Think burgers ($11), sloppy joe sliders ($4), chicken tenders ($6) and lots of fries ($3). The exposed brick barroom also hosts a variety of events, from trivia nights to weekly karaoke to comedy shows.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
More spots to grab drinks in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Urban Jungle
Shopping

Urban Jungle

Spend either $100 on a pair of vintage Levi’s or $15 on other, pre-loved items? No question about it: You’ll go home with cheap threads from this thrift chain.

Friends Vintage
Shopping

Friends Vintage

Brooklyn designer Mary Meyer and her best friend Emma Joe opened this brick-and-mortar version of their popular Etsy shop (etsy.com), attaching it to Meyer’s own clothing store. The ladies hawk affordable women’s and men’s vintage and gently used new clothing ($20–$70) and accessories ($12–$160). Look for one-of-a-kind pieces (mostly from the ’80s and ’90s) such as a VYNO Pat 1960s raincoat ($62), Steve Madden platform leather boots ($69), a men’s Bushwacker button-up shirt ($42) and vintage Ray-Bans ($160).

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Molasses Books
Shopping

Molasses Books

Explore the storied relationship between booze and books at this Bushwick gem. Located in the middle of a residential block, this used bookshop opened last summer, packs an excellent selection of affordable tomes into its tiny digs and doubles as a comfy neighborhood café. During the morning, locals sip coffee ($2.50) along the back bar while leafing through the spot’s latest gets—and switch to stronger stuff like Budweiser ($3) and Bass ($4) bottles as the day wears on. 

Vinyl Fantasy
Shopping

Vinyl Fantasy

Anyone who’s tried to track down a funny book in Brooklyn knows that it’s a largely thankless task (minus a few standouts like Desert Island). Enter this modest storefront, which fills an important, underserved niche by offering Marvel comics and CCR records under one roof.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
More places to shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Nightlife in Bushwick, Brooklyn

House of Yes
Nightlife

House of Yes

This wild Bushwick hotspot opened in 2016 and quickly established itself as a reliable way for Brooklyn revelers to wear insane costumes and lose their inhibitions just about every weekend. With exhibitionist parties like “House of Love” and the immersive “Little Cinema” film tributes, along with a panoply of aerialists, magicians and dancers on retainer, House of Yes is constantly inventing new ways to make a night out more than just drinks at the bar. Pro tip: Snag tickets in advance and get there early — the entry line often runs the block.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Gotham City Lounge
Bars

Gotham City Lounge

Find this welcoming comic-book temple tucked beneath the rattling tracks of the elevated M train—just look for the giant mural of Batman outside. If themed mixed drinks like the Green Lantern (Zubrowka, apple schnapps, Sprite) give you pause, stick with $3 PBR-and–Old Crow whiskey combos while geeking out over the bar’s deep collection of superhero memorabilia.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Cobra Club
Things to do

The Cobra Club

Bushwick's Cobra Club is a hybrid community center, combining a yoga studio with a café that serves beer, wine and a curated menu of locally sourced comfort food, and hosting performances and get-togethers of all sorts.

Users say
2 out of 5 stars
Starr Bar

Starr Bar

This isn’t just any old Bushwick Bar. At Starr Bar, 10 percent of the bar’s profits go to nearby Mayday Community Space, an organizing center that presents community-oriented public programming and supports social justice initiatives. It hosts everything from dance parties to film screenings to political discussions, but locals looking for a cold beer can also drop in anytime for a drink. Try cocktails like the Muckracker, made with Bulleit bourbon, Bailey’s and cold brew coffee, or the Snowden Vesper, a combination of vodka, gin and lillet blanc topped with a pickled onion (both $12). A selection of eight beers on draft (all $7), several more in cans and five easy-drinking wines by the glass should keep you happy, too. Drop by for the happy hour from 5pm to 8pm every weekday to score select cocktails for $7 and a Narragansett and shot pairing for $6.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
More spots to go out in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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