Fort Greene is a microcosm of what makes Brooklyn great: Culture, commerce and picturesque residential areas are elegantly packaged within a few square blocks. A burgeoning mix of shops and restaurants can be found along the neighborhood's main arteries of Fulton Street, Lafayette and Dekalb Avenues—the perfect places to stroll after you've spent an afternoon soaking up film, dance, theater or a concert at the neighborhood's creative nucleus, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Fort Greene is a microcosm of what makes Brooklyn great: Culture, commerce and picturesque residential areas are elegantly packaged within a few square blocks. A burgeoning mix of shops and restaurants can be found along the neighborhood's main arteries of Fulton Street, Lafayette and Dekalb Avenues—the perfect places to stroll after you've spent an afternoon soaking up film, dance, theater or a concert at the neighborhood's creative nucleus, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. South Portland and South Oxford Streets contain some of the quietest and most beautiful tree-and-brownstone-lined blocks in the area, with each thoroughfare leading to the sloping Fort Greene Park.
Paul Holdengrber, director of lecture series "LIVE from the NYPL," New York Public Library
"In five years, Fort Greene has become very vibrant while remaining a mixed neighborhood. It's filled with places to go and things to do. The Greenlight Bookstore is like a third lung. I deeply, dearly, profoundly believe in independent bookstores. I love the wines at The Greene Grape. The Smoke Joint I adore. Their pulled pork, chicken and spicy fries I recommend to anyone. They do have the best hot dog in Brooklyn and probably in Manhattan. They also have extraordinary bourbon and great beers."
Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St at South Portland Ave (718-246-0200, abookstoreinbrooklyn.blogspot.com) * Greene Grape Provisions, 765 Fulton St between South Oxford St and South Portland Ave (718-797-9463, blog.greenegrape.com) * The Smoke Joint, 87 South Elliott Pl between Fulton St and Lafayette Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-797-1011, thesmokejoint.com)
"I love the Stonehome. It has a fantastic wooden counter that I love touching. I'm very sensitive to abundant noise, and it's quiet."
Stonehome Wine Bar, 87 Lafayette Ave between South Elliott Pl and South Portland Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-624-9443, stonehomewinebar.com)
"First and foremost, I must mention BAM and their wonderful programs. The notion that I live 647 steps away from BAM is amazing. I work at the New York Public Library and I live down the street from BAM; do you have a better arrangement for me?"
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, bam.org)
Rebecca Fitting, co-owner, Greenlight Bookstore
"This is the first neighborhood I've felt at home in. I'm constantly impressed with and amazed by the cross-section of interesting people. There are lots of smart and eclectic readers around here. We were going to carry any books people wanted to buy, but it seems people are interested in the books we want to carry. It's such a nice fit. We describe it as entering into a long-term relationship with the neighborhood."
"Our first sale was to the guy who [used to be the manager of the beer garden] Der Schwarze Klner, before we were officially open. We were unpacking boxes but we know him, so he came in asking if he could look at the cookbook section. He comes back up holding The Beer Book and he asks, 'Can I buy this? I can do the tax in my head and I have exact change.' And we were like, 'Oh, I guess we're open now.' "
, 710 Fulton St at South Oxford St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (347-841-4495)
"Beny's Delice just opened—it has amazing coffee and the pastries are phenomenal. I go there every day. They have a bakery in the back and the front is a cute little caf. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but their brioche bun, I love."
Beny's Delice, 903 Fulton St between Clinton and Vanderbilt Aves (718-622-1400)
"I decided I'm going to do most of my holiday shopping at Yu Interiors, the antiques and design store run by one guy. His tastes are exquisite. I've gotten people housewarming gifts there. He's got vintage stuff and some stuff that's timeless: lamps, carafes, pitchers, scented candles. That's one of the best-kept secrets for shops in the neighborhood."
Y Interiors, 15 Greene Ave between Fulton St and South Oxford St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-237-5878, yuinteriors.com)
Mark Henegan, owner, Madiba Restaurant
"My wife and I moved to Fort Greene because of my dog. Fifteen years ago, we couldn't get any apartment in the city to take a dog with no fee. I always lived in the East Village and said I'd never live in Brooklyn. But we saw a garden apartment and there was Fort Greene Park and we thought, this would be perfect. We got a place on South Oxford Street for $1,200."
"I love Alibi if you just want to go out and have a few drinks. Their prices are great, plus you can shoot pool in the back and talk nonsense. It's our favorite dive bar."
Alibi, 242 DeKalb Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (no phone)
Jennifer Egan, author, A Visit from the Goon Squad
"You can already see the disaster of the Atlantic Yards unfolding. The traffic is already much worse as they're cutting off the streets. That is going to be the big and horrible change. But it feels like the variety of people in all different life moments seems to have held pretty steady."
"Some of our old favorites are still here. Ici is low-key, casual and the best of French food. The owner, Katherine, is wonderful; she used to teach French out of her home and she taught both of our kids French. That's the nice thing about the neighborhood: It feels intertwined in a really lovely way."
Ici, 246 DeKalb Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-789-2778, icirestaurant.com)
Craving a big, juicy burger but don’t feel like going to a greasy drive-thru? Hit up Burger-Burger. Go for the standard cheeseburger ($11), or try one of the deluxe options like the Berta with cheddar, ham and a fried egg ($13.25) or the New Yorker with caramelized onions, mushrooms, swiss cheese and sour cream ($14.50). The health-conscious can opt for a veggie ($12.50), turkey ($12.50) or bison burger ($16) on a whole wheat bun. Of course, they offer fries galore—regular ($5), sweet potato ($6), curly ($7), cheese ($5), chili cheese ($7)—and all kinds of other snacks like mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers (both $6). Not into burgers? They also offer New York–style hot dogs ($4.50) and chili cheese dogs ($7). Like any good fast food joint, Burger-Burger also sells milkshakes in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry (each $5) or Reese’s peanut butter cup ($5.50) to round out the meal.
Venue says: “So good we named it twice! NY style hot dogs, shakes, malts, healthy burger options & low carb platters to your home or office.”