The years that I lived in Fort Greene were what first sparked my real estate dreams. Though I’ve lived in LA for 10 years now, my desire to own a beautiful brownstone remains intact. I will always cherish my memories of strolling through the shaded streets, admiring all the gorgeous mixed race babies at the Soul Summit Festival in Fort Greene Park, summer evenings viewing outdoor screenings at Habana Outpost, and waiting in line for the legendary red velvet cake at Cake Man Raven (that is sadly no longer). Since I haven’t been a true local here in quite some time, I tapped expert Sarah Stodola – Founder and Editor of one of my favorite travel publications, Flung Magazine – to share her current top picks in the neighborhood she calls home. Here’s what she had to say:
I moved to Fort Greene for the first time in 2003, left for a few years when I moved in with my boyfriend in Manhattan, then returned in 2014. The neighborhood has changed since those early years of the millennium—this is Brooklyn, after all—but Fort Greene has held onto its diversity and creative core even as some nearby areas have succumbed to velvet ropes, finance bros, and/or suburbia vibes. The blocks are truly gorgeous, a brownstone dream factory, and strolling my way through them remains one of my favorite ways to pass an afternoon. Here are my go-to stops along such a stroll…
(Featured image by Sean Holmquest)
A secret Japanese restaurant tucked in behind the back door of neighborhood standby Walter’s? I almost didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself. It’s impossibly moody and sexy—go late, or go early and pretend it’s late. The care that has gone into collecting the cocktail stemware makes a trip here worthwhile in and of itself.
166 Dekalb Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11217
The backyard in summer, my favorite in Brooklyn with its stucco walls and Parisian-park gravel, can transport a person instantly to another place. But the food warrants a visit year-round; like the space itself, it’s Latin American-influenced, but also a genre entirely of its own making. (See more on Flung.)
219 Dekalb Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11205
(Pictured. Image courtesy of NY Daily News.)
I can cite any number of factors in explaining why this is one of my top go-to spots, starting with the wonderful Mediterranean food. During happy hour, both food and drink—including a nice Lambrusco—come at steep discounts. The sidewalk seating is quintessential brownstone Brooklyn. The bloody mary very well may be the best in the city.
171 Lafayette Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11238
(Pictured. Image by Sarah Stodola.)
In a corner of New York City bursting with self-serious spots and their increasingly verbose takes on American cuisine, this Ethiopian restaurant reminds us that Brooklyn is still a multicultural place. The vegan combination platter, served atop an expanse of injera bread, makes me happier than most things in life.
747 Fulton Street \ Brooklyn, NY 11217
All the cooking here is done locavore and over a wood fire, and if you ask to dine at the chef’s counter, you’ll have a front row seat to a choreographed performance of food, flame, and finesse. At first glance, the menu looks like a carnivore’s dream, but Chef Norberto Piattoni—despite hailing from Argentina—also takes his vegetables seriously. (Full review on Flung.)
197 Adelphi Street \ Brooklyn, NY 11205
(Pictured. Image by Liz Clayman.)
In this tiny shop tucked in next to a brownstone a block off of Fort Greene Park, I always find something I didn’t know I wanted—ranging from handmade jewelry to exquisitely conceived textiles. For such a small space, it’s great for an extended browse, or to find a gift when you’re having trouble thinking of just the thing.
185 Dekalb Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11205
The eponymous owner of this shop is the kind of person who not only has lots of ideas, but follows through on them. As such, the space has evolved into not only a gorgeous display of one-of-a-kind items from Lindsey and the network of indie makers she cultivates here, but also a café and event space that hosts both kids and adults, depending on the time of day.
370 Myrtle Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11205
(Pictured. Image courtesy of Jill Lindsey.)
The Fort Greene location of this seminal Brooklyn indie shop is relatively small and super friendly. And while the inventory probably busts most budgets, sales do happen—recently, I scored what is currently my favorite sweater, a grey wool Acne Studios number, for something like $120.
85 Lafayette Avenue \ Brooklyn, NY 11217
This stalwart bar has been around since before Brooklyn was a glimmer in most hipsters’ eyes. It hasn’t changed a bit since it opened in 1974, and it’s still the best bar for miles around, with a clientele as diverse as you’re likely to find anywhere. A true local classic, and in my opinion a national treasure.
Fort Greene is long on great restaurants, but can feel short on bars. That’s why Dick & Janes feels like such an important part of the neighborhood—it’s small, friendly, hip, and just plain good. And rightfully, it’s usually packed. A tightly conceived cocktail list changes with the seasons, but is always interesting and well executed. (Check out two of them in this video.)
266 Adelphi Street \ Brooklyn, NY 11205
(Pictured. Image by Sarah Stodola.)