A farewell to all the best places in Williamsburg

A farewell to all the best places in Williamsburg

I moved out of Williamsburg last week. For the past two years, home was a little room in a secluded back house on a tree-lined street off the Lorimer L stop. I grew tomatoes and basil and rosemary in cluttered pots in the shared courtyard, locked my rusty but trusty bike up on the sidewalk outside, and would spend lazy Sunday afternoons with Thai takeout on the couch.Brooklyn key ring by Various KeytagsMy first year in New York City was a chaotic frenzy of trying to find my place: searching for a job, hopping from sublet to sublet, making new friends while reconnecting with the old. Everything about the city was shiny brand-new and exciting, and I loved being in the heart of it all (noise! trash! bars!) in the gritty Lower East Side.

And then I started to spend just as much time on the other side of the Williamsburg Bridge as I did in Manhattan (a side effect of dating a born-and-raised Manhattanite who defected to Brooklyn years ago). A spur-of-the-moment decision and a whirlwind day of looking at apartments, and my BFF and I decided to move in together in Williamsburg. Reuniting, in fact; we had lived together for two years in college–once with eight other girls, and the next year in a two-bedroom apartment that we joked was twice as big and a third of the price as our humble Brooklyn abode.

Williamsburg is where my life in New York City clicked into place. It’s where I started to feel like I was part of a true community. It’s where I had my regular spots, places where I could recite the menu by heart and where people knew me by name. I’m looking forward to all the things ahead in Bed-Stuy, but these are the places I’ll miss the most in Wburg.

Spicy chicken sandwich at Commodore

My favorite bar (with really good food)

The greatest spicy chicken sandwich in all the land. The Commodore was my favorite place to take out-of-towners, and our go-to spot for dinner whenever we can’t decide what we want (because we always want a chicken sandwich). My friends threw a surprise party for my 26th birthday here, and I threw a surprise party for my boyfriend’s birthday here, and we have run into friends here so many times.

My dry cleaner

A dry cleaner who greeted me by name (it felt just like Cheers!) every time, and who is probably the most pleasant person in the entire borough. They made a mundane chore a pleasure, and I miss Top Hat Cleaners already.

Juices at Mr Pina in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

My juice place

Mr Pina looks like just another bodega grocery shop, but their juice bar is a best-kept secret value. For $4, you get a large juice of whatever combination of fruits and vegetables you want. They always make too much, and they always shove you the plastic cup and tell you to “drink some” which is usually about half the cup, and then they fill it up with the rest. My favorite is all the greens, apple and a huge hunk of ginger.

My nail place

If there’s one thing a girl in New York’s gotta have, it’s her nail salon. Agua de la Vida was my go-to spot for manis, pedis and waxing. Sophia is the most gifted and efficient waxer ever (seriously, her Yelp reviews are insane)–and once, she even offered me a ride home in a blizzard–that’s when I was like, yup, I shall be loyal to this salon forever. And I was!

My dumpling place

There is no better place for late-night, take-out dumplings than M Shanghai.

My wine shop

All the things worth loving about Vine Wine (beyond the fact that it was less than block from my apartment): they have a loyalty punch card, they have an under-$15 rack and they do free wine tastings with bread and cheese on Wednesday nights.

Coffee at Oslo Coffee Roasters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

My coffee shops

In true gentrifying hipster fashion, Williamsburg has no shortage of coffee shops–and they’re all really good. I bounced around three regularly, all for good and different reasons. Oslo on Roebling, because they post the day’s horoscopes and they have a big communal table that always has the day’s New York Times and there isn’t any wifi. Sweatshop, because the baristas are Australian and the place is designed for Instagram and there is good wifi. Blind Barber, because there are really good window seats and because they also serve brunch.

My date night spot

Desnuda has killer cocktails, $1 oysters and a cozy, romantic, exotic ambiance. Bonus: really incredible Peruvian ceviche. We went here right after it opened when we’d only been dating a few months–and it became our spot for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, a Saturday night worth celebrating.

My bagel place

I won’t lie: Bagelsmith does not have the greatest bagels that you will eat in New York City. But on a hungover Sunday morning, having a bagel place with two blocks is key–especially when they know how put just the right amount of cream and sugar in your coffee.

Williamsburg, thanks for having me. I already can’t wait to come back and visit. And Bed-Stuy: I need to find equally wonderful spots to replace all my places above. If you have any tips, help a girl out! 

  • I can’t even imagine your pain! Just the thought of leaving Crown Heights sends me into a panic. As for Bed-Stuy: SCRATCHbread on Bedford has the BEST breakfast (especially grits), Black Swan nearby is an amazing brunch spot (probably great for lunch & dinner too!) and Reconnect Cafe on Tompkins is an awesome coffee shop and ALSO a great local cause (it’s where I went for breakfast my very first morning in NYC!)

  • Jill Wishart

    Aw this makes me miss Williamsburg for you. Also, this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for taking me to Commodore!

  • Cocktails, oysters, and ceviche?? Desnuda is going to the top of my NYC To-Eat list.

  • camorose

    NOTING ALL OF THESE. Thank you!!!

  • camorose

    Yes! We need to get a Commodore date on the books ASAP!

  • camorose

    Yes! There is a location in East Village too. Super good!

  • I love learning about the different neighborhoods in NYC and you’ve been so awesome with opening your readers’ eyes to Williamsburg! I just googled Bed-Stuy, though, and I look forward to reading along as you explore your new home!

  • A wine shop with a frequent buyer card, amazing!

  • angel82485

    I’ve just started following your blog and love it. I made the move from Williamsburg to Clinton Hill a year and a half ago, after being in Williamsburg for 5 years and although I do miss wburg sometimes, the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill area is such a nice change. SCRATCHbread is actually closing in a few days, but some other amazing places to check out:

    Emily – amazing pizza on Fulton Street. Husband and wife team, she’s front of house and he’s the chef and they are both always there. They also have an amazing burger, but they run out of them, a must!!! Usually always a wait, so go to Hanson Dry next door for drinks while you wait 🙂

    Chuko – best ramen in all of NYC, hands down. Veggie broth with pork added is the way to go.

    Ample Hills – to die for ice cream

    Leon and Sons – new wine shop with a punch card!! They have a cheap wine table and do tastings too 🙂

    Chilos – awesome drinks and tacos! May be your new Commodore

    Marietta – amazing southern comfort food. Fried green tomatoes and comeback sauce are to die for.

    Thai Holic – One thing I missed the most was good Thai food, this place opened up not too long ago and has amazing delivery, don’t bother with anywhere else. I’ve never been inside, but heard it’s pretty cute.

    Sorry, I get a little carried away with food/drink recommendations. Enjoy and welcome to the neighborhood!

  • camorose

    Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. I definitely miss parts of Williamsburg, but I’m excited for a new adventure in a new neighborhood!

  • camorose

    Yes! My new wine shop already doesn’t compare 🙁

  • camorose

    YES! Thank you! This is so helpful! I actually just googled Leon & Son and I am sad that they are just a little too far away to be my standard wine shop because that punch card trick is so key! Adding all of these to my list.

    One thing we did find is Dao Palate on Seamless–it’s Thai takeout but “healthy” Thai, and we really loved it. Brown rice, huge veggies, a little less fat–recommend!

  • angel82485

    Awesome! I will have to check it out 🙂 thanks!!

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  • I can vouch for Black Swan. I was just there the other night (currently staying at an AirBnB in Bed-Stuy) and the food was great – I had dinner. Great beer selection as well.

  • Thanks for these suggestions! I had my nails done twice at Agua de la Vida on this trip. Can’t believe the prices. If I lived in the neighbourhood I’d never do my own again. It costs me at least $30 to have them done anywhere at home.

  • I was planning on checking out SCRATCHbread this morning…but it’s closed down! 🙁 Sad panda.

  • camorose

    Ohhhh noted! Need to check it out!

  • camorose

    Haha yes! I have gotten so reliant on getting my nails done in NYC, just because it’s so cheap and convenient. One of those little things that really brightens my day and doesn’t cost that much! And the women in aqua de la Vida are so sweet!

  • camorose

    I know! IT closed the weekend we moved there, so lame!

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