We all have a street. The one we always seem to gravitate to for coffee, first dates, window shopping, and leisurely ambles. Maybe we like the cuisine offerings there or a certain bar where they play Sublime and Jane’s Addiction tunes…or maybe we just like the way the building facades look against the sky. In our new column, Street of the Week, What Should We Do?! editors and writers will share the stretches of pavement that mean something to us, and what you should eat, drink, do, and check out if you decide to walk a few blocks in our metaphorical shoes (we need our real ones!). First up, our food expert and editor, Jess Bender, dishes on her fave Brooklyn avenue.
I initially came to Greenpoint as a college freshman for a coffee-shop screening of the ’80s BMX cult classic Rad (which was, indeed, very rad) and stayed for Manhattan Avenue’s cheap bodega sandwiches, the diviest of dive bars, and unsuspecting Polish haunts. A decent chunk of my early adulthood has been spent on the long Greenpoint strip since my college days, and I have the stories to back it all up: the times I lingered around Lake Street until last call, the early mornings eating Peter Pan’s crullers on the steps of St. Anthony the Padua, and the night I had to throw my passed-out crush on my back and carry him to the Bedford L station from the now-closed Bar Matchless.
While Greenpoint’s rapid gentrification has resulted in some of Manhattan Avenue’s most beloved spots packing it in—besides Matchless, I’ve mourned the untimely departures of local dive Habitat, the offbeat piano bar Manhattan Inn, and Little Poland candy shop Slodycze Wedel—there are still plenty of authentic, wonderful, tenacious businesses sticking around.
Sikorski’s got the meats. Hanging kielbasas can be spotted from the outskirts of the unpretentious Polish butcher, which has been in business for the past four decades with no signs of stopping. Stock your pantry with staples like potato pierogi, smoked ribs, and a mustard that’ll clear out your sinuses in an instant.
If you’re in no mood for a spur-of-the-moment sausage party, the home cooking happening up the block at Polka Dot Cafe will steer you right. The all-female staff excels when it comes to making comforting Polish classics like fruit-stuffed blintzes, potato pancakes the size of a steering wheel, and Ukrainian borscht. The interior—mismatched dining sets, flowers in old wine bottles, plenty of cat paintings—will also remind you of being in your quirky grandmother’s dining room.
Widely recognized as one of the premier beer bars in NYC, Tørst is a brewski lover’s dream. Twenty-one taps on constant rotation and an extensive collection of bottles in the cellar showcase the best of the beer world at any given moment. My recommendation? Get a few five-ouncers—$5 and under!—to get a proper taste of the ’scape.
Should your tastes lean more toward the locavore side of the spectrum, Annicka is the first restaurant to run under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Farm Brewery license—meaning every last drop of beer must be made in New York State. The McCarren Park–adjacent bar does that one better; along with beer straight from Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co., Annicka has devised a drink list that consists solely of locally produced wines, spirits, and ciders.
Record Grouch is the sort of vinyl haunt that High Fidelity would be based on if it were remade in current-day Brooklyn. The no-frills shop keeps it to just the necessities: hard-to-find albums from yesteryear and today, turntables on which to spin the goods before purchase, and speciality zines and posters. Rob Gordon would be low-key impressed.
Before you start your record hunt, you’re going to need a proper tote—and maybe a bold tee and limited-edition rock poster to go with it. Enter Kayrock, a statement-making screen-printing shop located in a century-old rope factory. If its prints look familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen them in at least one cultural institution around town. (Some of its clients include Warby Parker, Nitehawk Cinema, Roberta’s, and BAM.)
Because you can only play so many rounds of Where Did My Missing Sock Go?, Sunshine Laundromat ensures that you’re properly killing time while your clothes are in the dryer. A hidden entrance in the back leads the way to the sunlit pinball bar with 23 of owner Peter Rose’s favorite games, drafts on tap, and a fortune-telling monkey.
If you’re more into cleaning your soul than your clothes, Awakening Healing Center is there for you. The urban healing sanctuary is equipped with all the tools you need for physical (deep-tissue massages, a plethora of yoga practices) and emotional (soul therapy sessions, crystal healing) balancing. You can leave your amethyst at home; Awakening will provide plenty to work on your chakras.