Greenpoint and Williamsburg share a border and if they were siblings they would probably sleep on a bunk bed under a ceiling plastered with those glow in the dark stars, planets, and swirling galaxies. I guess what I’m saying is that these two neighborhoods, like it or not, are constantly influencing one another, for better or worse. What was once a working class enclave for Polish immigrants, the Greenpoint of today is much more of a mixed bag. Each block is a collage of old and new, giving Greenpoint its distinctive retro look and trendy vibe. On one corner you’ll spot an old man sitting out front of a decades-old Polish cafe lost in a newspaper and just across the street you’ll see a flock of fashionable 20- and 30-somethings shuffling through records and racks of vintage clothes. As far as ideal neighborhoods go, this one checks all the boxes. It’s got a beautiful turn of the century park, an array of laid-back restaurants and bars, excellent music venues, and waterfront views to boot. Accessible by the G train or NYC Ferry, Greenpoint is definitely worth the trip. So to help you get your bearings in Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood, here’s a few of our favorite spots:
There’s a reason this place makes an appearance on most “do, see, and go” Greenpoint lists. Serving customers since 1952, this mom and pop doughnut shop has all those iconic 50s touches that transport you back to a bygone era where employees sport pink-trimmed green aprons, customers sit on vinyl stools at an S shaped counter, and doughnuts are proudly displayed in the storefront window. Personal favorites include the white cream coconut and the classic vanilla frosted with sprinkles. There’s usually a line but it’s worth the wait.
Entering Bakeri in Greenpoint is like walking into the fairytale version of a bakery. As soon as you walk through the doors, you’re greeted by the aromas of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls, and so much more. The floral wallpaper, wood accents, and communal tables make it all the more homey. It’s like eating breakfast inside what I imagine a gnome’s house would look like.
This is a go-to spot for Polish baked goods. It’s been around for years and it is as local as local it gets. Don’t expect rainbow cupcakes or any of that, just the staples. And if you’re a jelly doughnut fan, then you’ve got to sink your teeth into a cherry paczki, a richer, doughier version of the American classic.
After passing under the two pink spray painted palm trees that flank the entrance of this vintage shop, you’ll be greeted by the smell of incense and an eclectic assortment of vintage clothes, crystals, and what appears to be an indoor greenhouse of sorts.
So if you’re looking for a potted plant for your bookshelf, a pair of vintage earrings, or some nouveau-hippie goods, FengSway has got you covered.
Situated on the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, this is by far the best Beacon’s Closet in the city. Given that the majority of nearby residents are quick to switch styles, there is a constant flow of good second hand and vintage clothes coming through the doors. Prices are reasonable and there’s racks and racks of clothes to sift through.I’d be surprised if you left empty handed.
This place has been around for years and as far as thrift shops go, it’s one of the best. There’s piles of old photographs, crates upon crates of records, and nostalgic knick-knacks in every corner. There’s bound to be something that sparks your interest, whether you truly need it or not. There’s no order to the madness and that’s part of it’s charm. Neat freaks beware!
If niche bookstores are up your alley, this one is not to miss. Specializing in new and vintage cookbooks, this cozy bookstore is a must-visit for foodies, gourmands, and anyone who’s looking to mix up their cooking style. Books are curated by region, and there’s lots of great retro recipe books to flip through. So you might just find that recipe for the Jello lime cheese salad your Grandma served you back in ’92. There’s also a tiny restaurant in the back that serves up delicious Sicilian-inspired bites, with no jello or pickled eggs in sight.
The Pencil Factory
Located on the corner of Franklin St and Greenpoint Ave, Pencil Factory is the perfect spot to post up with a beer and bask in the midday sun. The sidewalk tables, wood floors, and antique acccents give this place a kind of European feel. It’s never too crowded, drinks are reasonably priced, and it’s not really trying to be anything more than a local hang.
This relative newcomer on the block is where to go when you want to hang with a group of friends and drink outdoors. As the name implies, there’s a little bit of a tropical theme. Flamingo wallpaper, brightly painted patio furniture, and summery umbrella-adorned cocktails are to be expected.
Tucked away in a residential pocket of Greenpoint, this historic park is peaceful, full of beautiful old trees, and far less crowded than nearby McCarren park. So if you’re looking for the perfect picnic oasis or place to clear your mind, this is the park for you.
There’s plenty of great venues to see live music in Greenpoint, and Warsaw is one of the best. It’s intimate, unpretentious, and you can eat perogies as you jam out. The sound is decent and the lineup is mostly rock, punk, and indie with the occasional surprise or two.
Time for a fun fact: Between the 1940s and 1970s, NYC experienced a pinball prohibition. As it turns out, the early pinball machines were sans flippers, meaning players had to bump, hit, and jostle their way to victory. As you can imagine, this morphed into a form of gambling, one that was considered unethical, corrupt, and just no good for the youth. Fortunately, those days are over and pinball revelers can once again indulge in their vice of choice, even as they wait for their laundry to finish. Just push the dryer-machine door at the back of the laundromat, and you’ll find a hidden bar with one of the city’s best collection of pinball machines.
The idea behind opening this pizza parlour was pretty simple. Recreate the iconic pizza parlor of yore and serve the kinds of slices that people line up for. Nods to the past include the burnt orange booths, checkerboard floor, and retro video game nook. What to eat? Here, it’s all about the roni cups, the thicker coin like cousin of the standard flat pepperoni. A slice of roni-cup perfection will run you $4.
Sometimes it’s nice to go to place that sticks to the classics. Even better when then they’re done to perfection. Like the decor, the dishes are simple and timeless. You can’t go wrong with the pork shoulder or roast chicken. And unlike most places, the only vegetarian main, falafel, is pretty damn good.
BY CORY KENY
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