Apart from the rows of trees, brownstones and ice cream shops, one of the best things about moving to Carroll Gardens is that we actually know people who live here. It means we can grab coffee with friends without too much notice – a novel idea in New York.
Among those friends are J and Marie, two of the best people I’ve met since moving to the city. I’ve been off work this week (I’ve been having a glorious staycation) and, as luck would have it, Marie had a couple of hours to spare to show me around the neighborhood. So I thought I’d share her favorite places with you, just in case you ever found yourself in this beautiful part of the city. (Which you should.)
Marie, who’s lived here for seven years, met me at our place in Carroll Gardens and then mostly walked me along Smith Street before we hit Atlantic Avenue. While that area is actually known as Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights, all of the places she showed me are very accessible from Carroll Gardens, which you can reach by taking the F or G train to Carroll Street. If you don’t know where it is, here’s a very artistic map for you:
Marie met me at our place and we headed towards Smith Street.
Along Smith Street, there are numerous places to grab a bite to eat. I particularly liked the look of Cafe LuLuc, a cute French restaurant that serves brunch all week. It looks like the sort of place you could go on your own for a leisurely read of the paper without feeling odd for dining alone. For a more summery feel, there was Cubana Cafe – which looks like it’ll satisfy my chips and salsa cravings – and for something a little bit more special, The Grocery had an impressive menu.
I was glad to see some of my old favorites, too, including Wild Ginger, a delicious vegan Thai place that also has restaurants in Williamsburg and Nolita, Konditori, a Swedish coffee bar, and Spice – yes, it’s a chain but it is so tasty. Marie also pointed out Bar Tabac, a relaxed bar that hosts jazz.
But by far the most exciting place for snacks was Stinky – a spacious cheese shop. Ryan rolls his eyes at how much of a cheese snob I am, but it annoys me so much when Americans call those yellow plastic slices ‘cheese’! So Stinky is the perfect place for my proper cheddar fix. And I was so impressed that the labels said whether a cheese had used animal or vegetable rennet in its production – a very thoughtful touch for us strict veggies. You can also get breads, beers, oils and sweet treats there. I’m considering moving in.
When I pulled myself away – my bag weighed down by cheddar – Marie led me to another winner: a gift shop called Exit9. Every Christmas present I will ever buy will be bought from this shop. It was brimming with quirky presents, purses, cards, candles – and most importantly, an inflatable unicorn head to mount on the wall.
When we reached the end of Smith Street (passing the Paper Source, which had the colorful cards pictured above), we turned on to Atlantic Avenue. After walking past the jail – which looks just as grim as you’d expect – we came across Sahadi’s, a huge shop filled with mountains of spices, grains and pulses, and the Brazen Head, a relaxed pub with an enticing sign on the door:
Back in Carroll Gardens proper, Marie took me to a few more places, where she was on first-name terms with the staff. There was First Place Provisions (a fancy sort of deli that lives up to its ‘BEEEEEEER!!’ sign outside), Clinton Apothecary (which sells cleaning products for a dollar), Bar Bruno (a colorful bar with great food and a European feel), and best of all, Love Thy Pet (we shall be returning here at Halloween and Christmas so that Georgia can get her photo taken – for free – in a range of costumes). Marie also said we should check out Mazzola’s – a neighborhood bakery. Little did she know, I’ve been going practically every day since I moved.
With a hug and a promise to show me around neighboring Red Hook sometime soon, Marie had to dash off. It was a brilliant introduction to the area – sometimes it’s tough to know where to begin – and she’s given me a fair few to try out, don’t you think? I know there’s plenty more to discover, so let me know if there’s anywhere nearby I just have to visit.
If you need me, I’ll be in Stinky’s.