Bay Ridge represents a kind of final frontier for Brooklyn, and not just because it’s the last place you hit heading south before the bridge to Staten Island. Still relatively untouched by the gentrification wave, it’s characterized by cozy diners, spacious parks and laid-back bars patronized by folks who grew up in the area.
RECOMMENDED: Great days out in New York
From the Bay Ridge–95th St R stop, head south along Fourth Avenue and across Shore Road to the waterfront, where you can join weekend warriors on the busy bike path or relax in the shadow of the towering Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. In 1776, this was where Britain’s army launched its campaign against Washington’s forces.
Head north along Third Avenue, where shops and cafés crammed with locals line the sidewalks between 95th and 86th Streets. You’ll find a hybrid at Hom(8806 Third Ave between 88th and 89th Sts; 718-238-4466, thehomstore.com), which offers vintage curios and a brunch selection that changes monthly—in September, dig into apple-cinnamon French toast ($12.95)—served in a semisecret back-corner dining area and a private garden. Be sure to save some of your caloric quota for the Little Cupcake Bakeshop(9102 Third Ave at 91st St; 718-680-4465, littlecupcakebakeshop.com). Try the Blue Velvet cupcake ($3), baked with blueberries and buttermilk, and frosted with mascarpone cream cheese.
Ride your sugar high to that grande dame of discount stores, Century 21(472 86th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves; 718-748-3266, c21stores.com). Burn through your fall shopping at this well-organized (and less crowded than in Manhattan) emporium of Theory work wear, Jimmy Choo shoes and other price-slashed designer goods.
Next, make your way to The Owl’s Head(479 74th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves; 718-680-2436, theowlshead.com) to quench your thirst with a glass of sparkling red barbera ($13), served cold and paired with a three-cheese plate ($14). Owner John Avelluto, an artist and sommelier, grew up nearby; after tiring of traveling north to indulge his love for art and vino, he opened an outpost for both in Bay Ridge. He’s since commissioned murals from local artists and launched a poetry night (last Sunday of the month at 7pm).
—Allison Robicelli, robicellis.com
The week Fidel Castro died seemed an ideal time to venture uptown to the El Barrio section of East Harlem for dinner at Amor Cubano, an authentic Latin eatery. Locals flock to this spacious, charming restaurant for the tasty eats, the wide range of mojitos, and the three-piece band that plays Cuban favorites on the weekends. Belly up to the well-appointed bar to sample one of their eight different kinds of rum mojitos, including cucumber, coconut, mango and even champagne ($11-12). The decor will soon put you in the island mood, from the straw-fringed canopy over the bar to the big painting of a classic pink Chevy flanking the entryway. A complimentary dish of fried plantains will get you primed for one of Amor Cubano’s tasty appetizers, or chucherias. Try the ceviche mixto ($13), a generous serving of shrimp, petite bay scallops and tender rounds of squid with slivers of onion and a brunoise of red and green peppers in a tangy lime dressing. If you’re in the mood for a classic, tuck in to the El Cubano ($13), the classic pressed sandwich featuring roasted pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and tangy mustard. It’s big enough to share—or not, your choice. If the fortification of a big meal is what you need, feed your body and your soul with one of their entrees, or platos fuertes, like the churrasco ($22), a grilled skirt steak served with an excellent chimichurri sauce, white rice and black beans that are extra savory from being cooked with copious bay leaves. It may be
Venue says: “Cuba in East Harlem, authentic cuban experience!”