Ditmas Park walk
This quiet Brooklyn nabe is full of Victorian charm and foodie finds.
Mon Apr 26 2010
Start: 317 Rugby Rd between Beverley and Cortelyou Rds, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn
End: 1118 Cortelyou Rd between Stratford and Westminster Rds, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn
Distance: 1.4 miles
Time: 4 hours
1 A 30-minute ride on the Q from Union Square lands you on bustling Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park’s main drag of shops, restaurants and grocers. But to really get to know this historic neighborhood, you’ll have to head to its quieter parts. For a glimpse of the Victorian homes for which the area is known for, pop by brightly hued Rugby Gardens (317 Rugby Rd between Beverley and Cortelyou Rds), whose paint job could be characterized as something out of Candy Land rather than Brooklyn’s past. Open since 2005, it’s one of seven B&Bs in the neighborhood. A quick loop back to Cortelyou Road via E 13th Street reveals even more houses primed for real-estalking, most of which were built in the early 1900s.
2 Options for a midday snack abound in this rapidly growing foodie mecca, thanks to places like Mimi’s Hummus (1209 Cortelyou Rd between Argyle and Westminster Rds; 718-284-4444, mimishummus.com), the much-buzzed-about eatery where pillowy pitas are served with either traditional hummus ($8) or a tasty variation, like one studded with ground beef and pine nuts ($9). Head next door to the restaurant’s spin-off food shop, appropriately called Market (1211 Cortelyou Rd between Argyle and Westminster Rds, 718-284-4446), to pick up locally made bites like Mast Brothers dark chocolate bars ($9) confected in Williamsburg. Consider snagging a bag of Stumptown Coffee ($11)—a rare find in this neck of the woods.
3 Glass jars filled with natural herbs, teas and seasoning blends line the walls of the dimly lit Sacred Vibes Apothecary (376 Argyle Rd at Cortelyou Rd; 718-284-2890, sacredvibeshealing.com). Those who call ahead can schedule a private consultation ($80 per hour) with owner and master herbalist Karen Rose, who regularly whips up individualized herbal treatments for everything from the common cold to diabetes. For a soothing souvenir, take home one of Sacred’s organic teas, like the acne-fighting Beautiful Skin blend ($6.75/oz), packed with cleansing herbs like calendula, burdock root and spearmint.
4 Look for a small blue sign that points you to Kris Waldherr Art and Words (1501 Newkirk Ave at Marlborough Rd; 347-406-5811, artandwords.com). Waldherr—an author, illustrator and designer—turns her studio into an open gallery on Fridays (5--8pm) and Saturdays (1--5pm), when she also hosts tarot salons, publishing workshops and art-themed activities for kids (suggested donation $5). Passersby are welcome to stop in during open gallery hours and peruse Waldherr’s book art and photography exhibits free of charge. While the focus here is on literature and illustration, Waldherr boasts some techie cred, too: Ask her about Goddess Tarot, the application she developed for the iPhone.
5 Stroll to Ditmas Park’s burgeoning restaurant row for a traditional Filipino meal at newcomer Purple Yam (1314 Cortelyou Rd between Argyle and Rugby Rds; 718-940-8188, purpleyamnyc.com). Many of the diners live within walking distance, but oxtail braised in a thick peanut sauce ($17) and chicken adobo ($16) lure the Manhattan crowd that once dined on these same dishes at Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s former Soho establishment, Cendrillon.
6 Save your sweet tooth for a glass of Sauterns ($11) at newly opened The Castello Plan (1213 Cortelyou Rd between Argyle and Westminster Rds; 718-856-8888, thecastelloplan.com). Named for a map of lower Manhattan drawn by surveyor Jacques Cortelyou in 1660, the candlelit wine bar completes the trio of spots owned by the duo behind Mimi’s Hummus and Market. Take advantage of the agreeable spring weather and sip your vino in the open-air garden.
7 Regardless of what night it is, there’s likely something going on at Vox Pop (1022 Cortelyou Rd at Stratford Rd; 718-940-2084, voxpopcafe.com), the coffeehouse that quadruples as a bookstore, performance space and art gallery. Staying true to its Latin moniker, which means “voice of the people,” the place commonly hosts debates on topics such as health care, fair-trade laws, and independent books and films. Don’t be deterred by the leftist democracy-or-death vibe: The free live jazz, stand-up comedy shows and open mike nights would even be enticing to an Ann Coulter fan.
8 On your way back to the Q, pick up a custom bouquet of gorgeously fresh buds ($8--$30) at Sycamore (1118 Cortelyou Rd between Stratford and Westminster Rds; 347-240-5850, sycamorebrooklyn.com), a hybrid flower shop and bar that has one of the largest American whiskey selections in the city. Try the Ditmas Park Julep ($8), sweetened with honey liqueur, muddled mint and candied ginger. Kick your feet up on the sprawling back porch, where you can sip your tipple alfresco—you’ll need it for the long haul home.
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Ten treks to get you out of your apartments and deep into the heart of New York City.