Things to do in Dumbo, Brooklyn
Time Out Group is launching a new hotspot for food and culture lovers right here in Gotham. Time Out Market will bring the best of New York City's restaurants, bars and cultural experiences—all handpicked by expert Time Out editors—together under one roof in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. The market is set to open later this year at 55 Water Street within Empire Stores, complete with two floors, three bars, an outdoor rooftop area and a fantastic view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan's iconic skyline.
Some city parks—Central and Prospect, most obviously—were built to replicate rustic fields and preserve serene woodland. Brooklyn Bridge Park, however, was not—and that’s precisely why it has become so popular in the five years since it debuted. The project has transformed a chunk of the Brooklyn waterfront into an 85-acre expanse; several sections house unique attractions such as Jane’s Carousel, a restored 1920s merry-go-round, and riverside esplanades with gorgeous Manhattan views. Its latest addition, Pier 2, designed specifically for "active recreation"—sporting leagues, picnics and roller skating—further cements the space as the city’s premier urban playground.
Originally founded in 1981 by artists Martin Weinstein and Teresa Liszka, this non-profit was a stalwart of the Downtown art scene for more than three decades before moving in January 2016 to its current location in Brooklyn, bringing its program of exhibitions, artist residencies and commissioned projects to a flexible ground-floor space in Dumbo.
This former coffee-bean barge usually presents four chamber concerts a week (plus one jazz program) set against a panoramic view of lower Manhattan. It’s a magical experience, and the programming has recently grown more ambitious. When the weather is warm, enjoy a drink on the upper deck during intermission.
The adventurous theatergoer’s alternative to BAM, St. Ann’s Warehouse offers an eclectic lineup of theater and music; recent shows have included high-level work by the Wooster Group and National Theatre of Scotland. In 2015 it moved to the impressive Tobacco Warehouse, built in the 1870s as an inspection center for tobacco and newly renovated for theatrical use.
Dumbo continues to take flight. This self-described “Eastern Mediterranean” has planted itself on John Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the East River and lower Manhattan. Some big names are behind the project: Julian Brizzi (Rucola, Grand Army Bar), Noah Bernamoff (Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagels) and Joe Campanale (Fausto), with executive chef Garett McMahan (Perilla, Bouley, Baccarat Hotel) running the kitchen. Watch for dishes inspired by coastal locales like Beirut and Sicily, with meze and larger entrées like grilled lamb saddle and wood-roasted chicken. But the star, obviously, is the feast-your-eyes vista.
This all-organic eatery’s gimmick? The menu changes daily. Past specials range from Australian steak and seared tuna to Rhode Island blackfish and grilled polenta. But the arty-meets–vintage-1950s vibe (every wall is covered in paintings and photographs), friendly atmosphere and inviting pool table are always there for you.
The tourist hordes haven’t ruined Grimaldi’s, whose pedigree–going back to Patsy Grimaldi’s first job at his uncle’s pizzeria in 1941– assures it guidebook coverage. The jukebox still honors Sinatra, and the waitstaff remains surly. But oh, the pizza: a thin crust covered with a mozzarella-to-sauce ratio that achieves the Platonic ideal.
PowerHouse publishes beautiful photo books, but the company's open oftlike space and gallery invites the sort of casual browsing a weekend in Dumbo requires. PowerHouse also hosts all kinds of events, including some of the hottest authors, photographers and illustrators in kid lit.
On Dumbo's somewhat slummo side is a surprisingly mellow bar with soft lighting and a relaxed, country atmosphere. (Sit on the bench outside for a few minutes and you’ll see that the bar’s surroundings are neither relaxed nor country.) The artist-owner is a self-proclaimed oenophile who proudly offers more than a dozen wines by the glass and fruity sangria with a kick. If you expect more of a local meeting place than a colorful pickup scene, then you’ll be satisfied.