Neighborhood Watch: The Coolest Things to Do in Bushwick
Hip cafes, artist collectives, and converted industrial warehouses lend Bushwick a Williamsburg feel. But while pockets of the neighborhood—which does share borders with the Burg—have given way to gentrification, others retain Bushwick’s original edge. Once known as the “Brewing Capitol of the United States” (the nabe was home to 50+ breweries in the late 1800s), Bushwick’s love of beer is still apparent today with neighborhood dives, urban tiki taverns, and design-forward, multi-bar complexes around every corner. If drinking isn’t your thing, Bushwick still has much to do. From iconic pizzerias and Parisian neo-bistros to artisanal coffee shops and vintage boutiques, here are 15 reasons why Bushwick’s worth a visit.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
House of Yes
If you’re looking for a wild night out a la HBO’s Girls, Bushwick’s House of Yes is your venue. Cage dancers, aerialists, tarot card readers, and outrageous DJs are all par for the course at the former warehouse-cum-club. Friday and Saturday nights are when the big theme parties go down—Kafka’s Karnival and Oceana Galactica among them—but you’ll find all sorts of events the rest of the week, including amateur burlesque nights, circus variety hours, and DJ-led Vinyasa flows.
Roberta’s is a Bushwick institution. What started as a normal-sized pizzeria has now stretched the length of an entire BK block with the addition of a radio station, bakery, garden, and Blanca—a separate tasting-menu-only spot. Pies like the Famous Original (tomato, mozzarella, caciocavallo, parmigiano, oregano, and chili) and the Jon Bon Chovy (garlic, parmigiano, mozzarella, kale, sunchokes, rosemary, anchovy, and lemon) are the main calling cards, but you can further fill your table with plates of duck ragu, roasted brassicas, and grilled rib chops. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so line up early to get your name down or you’ll be buying one of the restaurant’s frozen versions from your neighborhood Whole Foods.
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@kcbctaproom holiday market is up and running! Stop by today before 6pm to shop on all these fancy goods. There’s something here for everyone on ya list. Visit @kcbctaproom or click this pic to check out vendor tags! #holidaymarket #records #vinyl #vintage #ceramics #bakedgoods #beer #kcbcbeer #kcbctaproom #kingscountybrewerscollective #bushwick #brooklyn
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Kings County Brewers Collective
Space may be at a premium in Brooklyn, but KCBC has managed to tuck a 5,000-foot, 15-barrel brewery and taproom next to Bushwick’s Jefferson L stop. According to KCBC’s trio of brewers—Tony Bellis, Pete Lengyel, and Zack Kinney—they’re the “first brick-and-mortar brewery to operate in the neighborhood in more than 40 years” despite the fact that Bushwick has long been a hub for beer production. History aside, today visitors can drop their Troutman Street taproom for 12 rotational drafts.
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Cheap eats are easy to find in Bushwick—bodega delis, pizza by the slice, and hole-in-the-wall burrito joints are around every corner. If you are looking to treat your date to a nice dinner, though, Suydam Street’s Le Garage is your spot. The intimate restaurant is run by mother-daughter duo Rachel and Catherine Allswang. With a background in interior design, the former brings Le Garage its sleek Art Deco design, while the latter, who was born in Normandy and runs multiple restaurants in San Francisco and Paris, brings a menu of French-inspired neo-bistro dishes. The menu is short and sweet, but there are a number of can’t-miss dishes, including the organic chicken for two with thyme crushed potatoes and confit garlic.
If Boston runs on Dunkin’, Brooklyn runs on artisanal, highly Instagrammable coffee joints. Industrial, airy, and dripping with greenery, Sey is a favorite among Bushwick’s work-from-home set. It’s not just the shop’s magazine-worthy interiors that draw a crowd, though—all of Sey’s beans are sustainably and ethically sourced with regional blends hailing from Columbia and Ethiopia. Can’t get enough? You can sign up for their monthly coffee subscription which comes with guidelines for brewing the optimal cup.
Bushwick may be known for its grungy dive bars and converted warehouse clubs, but it also has a few design-forward haunts. One such spot? Gemelli—a brand-spanking-new Mediterranean-Italian outpost from Dan Cipriani (of Bushwick’s beloved Sea Wolf) which was designed by Lorraine Kirke (yes—Jemima Kirke’s mom). The bar and rooftop are awash in bold shades of turquoise and jade green and feature highly architectural elements like geometric wooden beams and a concrete bar. If you’re not ready to end your night after a few plates (think: spicy shrimp, marinated olives, and grilled fig salad) and cocktails, make your way next door to The Ledge—the second half of Cipriani’s complex. The casual bar/restaurant offers more laid-back dishes and late-night drinks in a Pepto Bismol-pink space.
Bushwick residents have an affinity for vintage shops, and Friends NYC is just one “indie department store” feeding the neighborhood's obsession. The 2200-square-foot shop comes courtesy of BFFs Mary Meyer and Emma Kadar-Penner, who’ve filled their basement brick-and-mortar with vintage finds and new pieces from local vendors like Brooklyn Candle Studio, Floss Gloss, and Lila Rice. If you’re in the market for a gingham shirtdress, sage smudge stick, or delicate stacking rings, or you just have $20 burning a hole in your pocket, it’s worth a stop. Did we mention they donate a portion of their sales to causes like Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and Bad Ass Brooklyn Animal Rescue?
Brooklyn Cider House
In 2014, Peter Yi was a wine buyer and his sister, Susan, was a teacher. But one trip to the cider houses of northern Spain’s Basque Country was all it took for them both to leave their steady jobs, study apples, and open their own cidery back in Brooklyn. Today, the siblings manage a 200-acre farm in Hudson Valley (with a cidery, tasting room, farm store, and pavilion) as well as a rustic taproom/restaurant in Bushwick. Drop by to pair dry and sour ciders—served straight from the barrel—with New American menu items like Applewood bacon cheeseburgers and mix-and-match tacos.
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Father Knows Best
Comfort food, coffee, and low-key cocktails are what draw regulars to Chris Taha and Colleen Makary’s neighborhood bar/cafe. Just off the Wilson L stop, Father Knows Best offers an airy, light-filled bar, cozy backyard, and you’ll split it with me, right? dishes like cheddar scallion biscuits, bacon jalapeno mac and cheese, and Reuben “daddy” melts. Hit the spot after work and you may even drop in on a jazz or DJ night.
Leave it to Bushwick to transform an industrial warehouse into a hip bar/cinema/restaurant with an eclectic lineup of cult classics, ‘80s blockbusters, obscure indies, and critically acclaimed darlings. Each show, 50 guests take to the stadium seats and scribble orders on pieces of paper before settling in beneath low-lit, exposed-bulb string lights. On the menu is the Hot Mess Chicken Sandwich, gochujang Brussel sprouts, and eight artisanal popcorn flavors. The drink list includes local microbrews and cheeky craft cocktails like the Fizzy Lifting Drink and Drag Me to Hell.
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Looking for an affordable meal that isn’t a bagel or slice of pizza? At Bushwick’s cozy Bunna Cafe, you can score seven vegan Ethiopian dishes—aka The Feast—for just $14 to $17 (depending on if you drop by for lunch or dinner). Choose from plates like Gomen (steamed ginger and garlic collard greens), Misir Wot (red lentils with spicy berbere sauce), and Butecha Selata (kale, red onion, lime, and dried cranberry stuffing). Each plant-based dish is served with a side of injera (sourdough flatbread) so you can scoop up every last bite.
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It’s HUMP DAY. Happy Hour Meal Deals all night. Doors open at 5pm! Food till midnight. Drinks till 2am! Come hang. Have a burger. Have a cocktail. HAVE FUN!!! ???????????? ???????????? #dromedarybar #urbantiki #brooklyntikibar #bushwickbar #bushwick #tacos #pulledpork #dromedarybareats #burgers #bushwickburgers #fun #burgers #food #booze #tikibar #tikidrinks #goodtimes #bushwickresident #nycbars #foodies #dromedaryeats #humpday #dromedarybarhappyhour #bushwickhappyhour #dromedarybarwednesdaynights #hsiofw #wednesdaynight #dromedarybarsignaturecocktails #beer ???? by @andreannaseymore !
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Dromedary Urban Tiki Bar
Tuesday night trivia competitions. Wednesday night burlesque shows. Thursday night karaoke and 60-cent wings. Sunday drag brunches. Dromedary is a one-stop shop for every form of Bushwick bar entertainment. No matter the night, tiki drinks are flowing and doled out in a variety of kitschy vessels from flamingo floatie koozies to Kraken-covered mugs. Happy Hour runs each day from 5 pm to 8 pm, so grab your friends and go to town on $8 burger-beer-shot combos and light bar bites (we highly recommend the nachos).
Originally a Dutch/German neighborhood, Boswijck (AKA Bushwick) translates to "neighborhood in the woods." While Heavy Woods’ decor—a mix of pressed tin ceiling tiles, mounted taxidermy, and iron chandeliers—certainly leans into Bushwick’s past environs, New Orleans-style comfort food is the name of the game here. Whether you swing by for brunch or dinner, a menu of fried catfish po’boys, smoked brisket sandwiches, crispy chicken biscuits, and gumbo du jour will be waiting. Of course, the drinks—frozen Palomas, hibiscus Gimlets, and pineapple passion fruit Hurricanes among them—are just as enticing.
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Not the best picture, but one that serves to say there are a bunch of mass markets and other nice things going out this morning. Also, an alert that our buddies at @better_read_than_dead_bk are having a sale at their secret book cave garage annex space later today, go to their page for details and check it out if ya haven’t had enough of this kinda thing yet.
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Coffeeshop by day, wine bar by night, Molasses Books serves Bushwick’s literati with a variety of affordable titles. Tucked away on a side street off Wilson Ave it’s easy to miss, but regulars seek it out for chess nights, readings, book releases, and other low-key events. Peruse the $1 book cart outside for discounted gems, but don’t be afraid of the shelves inside; unlike other neighborhood shops which sell rare (AKA expensive) finds, most things here will run you just $5 to $10.
From the outside, Alphaville may look like your typical dive bar, but if you’re into comedy, live music, saucy chicken “nugz” (as the menu states), or any combination of the above, we bet you’ll enjoy it. Past the small bar and few booths lies a tiny backroom venue where you can catch free sets from comic prodigies (take The New York Times’ word for it) like Julio Torres (SNL, Los Espookys), Jaboukie Young-White (The Daily Show), and Ana Fabrega (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Los Espookys) as well as shows from a variety of punk, power pop, indie, and goth-rock bands.
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