That’s so “Brooklyn.” The world’s favorite borough has officially become an adjective, applied to everything from edgy fashion to flexible work schedules to hand crafted design. Yet beyond the omnipresent stereotype of Williamsburg’s “hipsters,” an entire borough of hidden charms awaits.
South Brooklyn is an entirely different animal, with historic townhouses, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a local community that cares more about quality of life than simply being “hip.” Just off the Bergen and Carroll stops on the F/G subway lines, the juxtaposed neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens boast some of the borough’s most appealing small businesses — and two of the city’s top must-see streets.
These parallel promenades in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn — Court Street and Smith Street — are well worth the detour from Manhattan. From gourmet bakeries and cocktail dens to stylish boutiques, it’s no surprise that many of the city’s European transplants choose to call this quaint community home.
GRAB A BITE
When it comes to choosing my favorite bakeries, smell comes first. Just basking in the buttery warmth of this Smith Street favorite makes everything all right. Don’t miss their namesake caramel colored croissants and crusty loaves.
Located right off the Carroll Street subway stop, it’s all too tempting to become a regular at this Vietnamese hot spot. The collard green salad and pork shoulder noodles are a must, as is the refreshing menu of exotic drinks.
We all love naan, curry, and samosas, but when was the last time you found an Indian restaurant where the architecture and design impressed as much as the food? Cue this restaurant’s gorgeous lacy dosas, super fresh ingredients and inviting atmosphere. You’re sure to be back.
This is not your average deli. From the broccoli reuben to the shelves stocked with quirky condiments and snacks, this gourmet sandwich shop has long been a neighborhood favorite.
Long live the lobster tail! I’m not talking about seafood, but an incredible feat of pastry made of sfogliatelle pastry filled with whipped cream. While there’s plenty to love about this Court Street shop, those in the know beeline for that lobster tail.
Appetizing shops are a New York institution, and this new mecca for smoked fish and Mill Basin bagels gives the classic Katz’s deli a run for its money. If owner Peter Shelsky is working the counter, you’ll be doubly glad you stopped by.
GET A DRINK
There’s a reason this cocktail den is regularly ranked among the best in Brooklyn. From their seasonal specials (like the snap pea-infused Green Giant) to the dim-lit speakeasy ambiance, this is one tippling spot that’s sure to keep getting better with age.
If you're into biodynamic or rare wines, this Court Street outpost is among the best purveyors in town. From pours that recall the sour, wheaty notes of beer to fizzy reds that aren’t Lambruscos, there’s sure to be a new find for even the most experienced amateur sommeliers.
Recently opened by a Clover Club alum, this fresh take on Latin cocktails and small bites offers a healthy dose of tropical heat. From the yerba mate-infused pisco sour to addictive tiki-style drinks, the future of Smith Street looks buzzed and bright.
If you enjoy playing cocktail roulette, these bartenders are up to the challenge. Just mention a few of your favorite flavors and their finely honed instincts will eagerly introduce you to a whole new world of cocktail expertise.
While you won’t find a hipster haven of caffeination pouring Chemex or Aeropress in Carroll Gardens, you will find a cup of the neighborhood’s Italian history at D’Amico. This long-standing roaster offers a solid old-fashioned cup of joe that’s just right for drinking black alongside an Italian cookie.
With more than a century of expertise in stylish eyewear, Moscot is a New York City company through and through. You’ll spot their frames on creatives, quirky fashionistas, and hipters alike. Music lovers should also keep an eye out for their concert series, hosted in their intimate backyard.
A relative newcomer to Smith Street’s fashion scene, this shop offers clothes and accessories that seamlessly balance practicality and stylish design.
If you’re seeking a store that screams Brooklyn pride, look no further. From gourmet gifts to quirky designs, everything in sight is crafted by local artisans.
A few blocks west on Sackett St, this pint-sized restaurant serves up some of the freshest and most creative cuisine in South Brooklyn. The restaurant’s wife-and-wife team has earned a Michelin star for their entrepreneurial efforts, and you’ll be wise to nab one of their limited dinner seats.
This soda fountain offers up both old-school savory favorites and quirky sweets, but the absolute musts are their iconic drinks. From old-fashioned egg creams to a damn fine chocolate milkshake, there’s no better place to travel back in time than Brooklyn Farmacy.
Just steps from the northernmost tip of Smith Steet, this French-inspired outpost is a welcome addition to Atlantic Avenue’s culinary scene. Vegetarians and carnivores will be equally delighted by the mixed menu—including their Mediterranean chickpea pancake: the “grand socca.”
Map illustration by Charmagne Kringstein