When I was moving to NYC from the suburbs of Detroit, choosing a neighborhood was less important than simply having a place to live. In August 2014, armed with three way-too-heavy suitcases, my laptop, and my best friend, I made the drive (aka sat in the back seat and snacked) from the Midwest to Crown Heights. Two years, a thousand bodega runs, a couple of legendary bar nights and scores of classic Brooklyn Sunday’s later, Crown Heights is one of my favorite places to be.
Crown Heights, like most New York hoods, has been through a lot, but it’s in the middle of a Robert Downey Jr.-sized comeback. The avenues of Crown Heights are home to hipster-filled Saturday night bars, Sunday morning coffee shops, and Tuesday night takeout spots. Here are some of the best places to be:
1. Best Date Night Spot: Two Saints
Two Saints, named for Toussaint L’Ouverture, (here, I googled him for you) is the perfect place for first date drinks. Order a specialty cocktail or a great glass of white wine, and while your date is in the bathroom, take advantage of a send-to-your-ex selfie with its perfect lighting scheme.
2. Best Saturday Night Dance Party: Franklin Park In the mood to be “that girl”? Franklin Park is where it’s at. Drinks are a little pricey (for my Lime A Rita budget), but the DJ takes requests and the dance floor is always packed. If it gets too hot and you’re gonna take your clothes off, there’s an outdoor patio perfect for catching your breath.
3. Best Sunday Morning Spot: Elsie’s Parlor
Three words: Black & White Donut.
The 1950’s vibes (a future Kim K. instagram caption?) mixed with the daring flavors of their ice creams and donuts makes Elsie’s a physical representation of Crown Heights itself: keeping it trendy without losing sight of the past. I tried the black & white doughnut and have since had dreams about it, but other flavors include Pistachio, Butterscotch, and Caramello e Cocco. Your diet starts tomorrow.
4. Take Out You Won’t Hate Yourself For: Guero’s Mexican
Great food at a reasonable price is sometimes hard to find, but Guero’s hits the mark. Creative taco combinations, quick delivery, and queso dip (!!!!!) are a great reason to break your normal takeout routine.
Try: Fried Avocado Tacos (must order in my Midwestern accent)
5. Takeout You WILL Hate Yourself For: Neptune Diner II
Confession: I have never eaten Neptunes in a stable state of mind.
I’m always there with a crispy french fry after a bad day at work, a chicken salad sandwich (weird, I know) after a bad date, or a heaping pile of mozzarella sticks after too many cocktails. Neptune’s (or Neppy’s, as I sometimes call it) is my truest friend. The (literal) ten page menu and 24/7 delivery service have contributed to my happiness and my last 15 pounds.
— Alex Plaskey (@AlexPlaskey) July 1, 2014
6. Best Place to Take Your Parents: Brooklyn Museum
There comes a time in every Brooklyn transplant’s life where she must escort her parents around the city and make them feel better about your choice to live in the most expensive metropolis in the world. After you’ve taken them (by you taking them I mean them paying for it) around the city, treat the ‘rents to a day at the museum. Admission is a **suggested** $16 and the museum has great exhibits (Kehinde Wiley, Basquiat, Ai Wei Wei, etc.) and an extensive collection sure to impress your Midwestern parents who are just relieved they haven’t seen a rat yet.
Because this post is about Brooklyn, I feel it’s important to say that I am aware that there are plenty of amazing places in Crown Heights and these are my personal favorites. Stop yelling at me.
Out and about in Crown Heights? Hit me up on Twitter @AlexPlaskey.