A short summer sublet in Park Slope, Brooklyn, many moons ago revealed a lot more about the area than my preconceived notions. It was known as the neighborhood for celebrity parents, but it turned out to be a nicely surprising stomping ground for an eager 20-something, too. At the time it was my home base, but even after moving away, I return to Park Slope again and again for its swear-by gems.
A warm and welcoming multipurpose hangout, Couleur Café nails the rare middle ground of eateries. It’s quiet and laptop-friendly enough to let you spend hours inside doing work, but on the flip side, it’s just talky enough that it wouldn’t be weird to enjoy a few hours over pastries or a full dinner with friends (the prosciutto crepe is divine!). Choose your meal of choice: It’s open early and late, and serves booze, too. 435 Seventh Avenue
The Old Pavilion was once the area’s sole movie theater—likably shoddy and nostalgic while definitely needing an upgrade (heat during the winter would have been nice!). Luckily, that upgrade is imminent. The Pavilion has closed in favor of becoming the second location of Williamsburg’s incredible Nitehawk Theater, arriving sometime this year. A full-bar-and-restaurant cinema in Park Slope? Stupendous. 188 Prospect Park West
Every neighborhood needs its leading loud bar and performance venue, and though High Dive and Union Hall are great options, my pick is Barbès. A European-flavored railroad-style spot with a music venue in the back room, Barbès is best in winter, when the crowds pack in and steam up the glass windows—a total escape from the freezing temperatures outside. 376 9th Street
Just typing its name feels (ridiculously) like a breath of fresh air. An all-seasons affair, Prospect Park is here for your dog, friend group, and family needs, as well as nature hikes, picnics, ice- and roller-skating at Lakeside, soccer games, and more. It’s unbelievable how rarely it gets too crowded. Except for some summer Sundays when every inch of grass seems overtaken by parked double strollers, there’s always room to find your perfect spot. 95 Prospect Park West
Vegan fans, rejoice—V-Spot is a pretty perfect veggie restaurant. Philly cheesesteaks and many other meaty faves have been converted into healthy options with a Latin flair. It’s always delicious and low-key, plus it’s hard to find another sit-down vegan place in Brooklyn that’s as consistently enjoyable. 156 Fifth Avenue
One of Brooklyn’s few LGBTQ bars (with a focus on the “L”; it’s the postgame hangout for the Park Slope Women’s Softball League), Ginger’s sits happily and unassumingly on Fifth Avenue between coffee shops and a kids’ tutoring center. With a convo-friendly front zone, pool and jukebox rooms further back, and open backyard seating, it’s clear why Ginger’s is a crowd favorite. I’m quite a fan. 363 Fifth Avenue
Out of many bagel options in Park Slope (shout-out to Bagel Hole on Seventh Avenue in the South Slope, a close second), Terrace Bagels was always the one that was there for me. Its menu is expansive; the to-go service is speedy; and its location, just a few blocks from the southwest corner of Prospect Park, makes it a great spot for your picnic brunch. 222 and 222A Prospect Park West