Williamsburg, Brooklyn may stand in many's estimation as a hot-bed of hipsters, trust funds, and annoying so-called artists under the age of twenty-five, but williamsburg is much more than the hackneyed clichés. Williamsburg is a great neighborhood, filled with delicious restaurants, great shopping, excellent book stores, and parks. Here's an idea of how you could spend a Saturday in here in the Burg.
1) Take the L Train from Manhattan to Bedford Avenue. Exit, promptly head to El Beit for the best coffee you've ever had.
El Beit is a newish addition to the neighborhood, famous for their Clover Coffee. A clover machine lets the barista adjust three variables (dose, water temperature, and brew temperature) to create the perfect cup of coffee. You will pay $3.00 for a cup of regular joe, and probably more for an espresso drink, but it's a great start to your day.
2) Walk a few blocks to Artists and Fleas, the resident Williamsburg flea market.
Established in 2003, the Flea market features vendors selling silk screened t-shirts and accessories, handmade jewelery and other crafts, and lots and lots of vintage clothes and accessories. If you're in the market for clothes, especially vintage on the cheaper side, I highly recommend that you stop at this flea market, which recently expanded this summer to flow into the building next door. Most of the vendors are very friendly and you can haggle especially if you buy more than one item. This is also a perfect place to shop for gifts. I can spend hours in here.
3) If that's not enough vintage for you, head to Malin's, across Bedford Avenue.
Malin has some of the most eccentric, interesting vintage from all over the world, but mostly Scandinavia. She has so many shoes in her store that I frequently have to walk on the other side of the street to avoid entering and spending copious amounts of money. Malin is frequently in the store and she will greet you and ask you what you're looking for. Return and she'll say she's pulled something perfect for you. It's a great environment and can be a little intimidating for those not used to fraternizing with fashionistas, but if you're looking for great vintage clothes, you've found them.
4) Stop for lunch at Egg, or, if the wait's too long, Blackbird Parlour.
Egg is by far one of the best brunches in Brooklyn, if not in the entire world. The cheese grits and eggs are incredible (and I say this as a Southerner, a girl born and bred in Georgia). You will not find grits like this anywhere else in New York City. Their lunch sandwiches are amazing as well - but everyone knows this, and on the weekends it can be up to an hour wait for a table. If that's the case, saunter over to Blackbird across the street, they have one of the best grilled cheeses I have ever put in my mouth, and it's a lovely place to sit and read.
5) After lunch, browse a great bookstore: Spoonbill and Sugartown
Spoonbill may not have every new release, but they have the ones worth reading, and a great selection of used books, notebooks, stationary, artbooks, magazines, and lit journals. With two resident kitties, the store has a lovely homey vibe and a helpful staff. They also have the occasional reading or event. Do your part and support this lovely local bookstore.
6) Head to the water!
There are several parks that run alongside the water. The first is the East River State Park, on North 8th and Kent. Here you'll find sunbathing hipsters, and a breathtaking view of the city. Concerts (formerly of McCarren Pool) and thrown here in the warmer months. You could also opt to wander through the Northside Piers apartment buildings. Behind them you'll find a gorgeous pier that juts out into the water, also with incredible views. Or the Grand Street Park on Grand and Kent offers a smaller, more intimate view of the city, complete with picnic tables and benches.
7) Grab a drink at Iona Bar
Iona is the resident Irish bar in Williamsburg. It boasts great beer, not so expensive liquor, and a beautiful backyard patio. In the summer the doors are opened and in the late afternoon it can be one of the most romantic bars in town. In the winter, outside, there's more of a youthful vibe to the place. But it never gets too rowdy. A nice pre-dinner drink bar.
8) Dinnertime at Marlow & Sons, Aurora, or Five Leaves
Marlow & Sons is, by far, my favorite restaurant in Williamsburg, and maybe on the face of the planet. But a seasonal menu dictated by smaller plates makes it an expensive choice, and oysters and an incredible bar will really make you want to spend the big bucks. So I recommend reserving it for special occasions. Its sister restaurant, Diner, has an excellent dinner (a great burger) and an even better brunch menu.
Aurora, nouveau-Italian food, is not exactly cheap, either, but still reasonable for the quality food you'll get. They have a beautiful indoor and outdoor dining room, a fantastic wine selection, and a great wait staff. This is a great place to go on a date, or to bring your fam on a visit.
Five Leaves, "Heath Ledger's restaurant" was indeed the baby of Heath and a few Australian friends. After he died, they opened the place with the money he had left, and it's been a very successful venture. The Five Leaves Burger (which features beef, cheese, beets, onions and a fried egg) is a favorite. With oysters and excellent cocktails, this is a great place for date-night or a gathering of friends. Be prepared to wait, though. It's a small joint and everyone wants in.
9) Finish up your night with swanky drinks at Hotel Delmano or slum it at The Levee
Hotel Delmano has some of the tastiest cocktails off of Bedford Avenue, and an incredible bar. The biggest draw to Delmano, besides the alcohol, is the beautiful interior, with tiny tables in sectioned rooms or even seats in the bar area: the atmosphere is like a secret speak-easy in your rich friend's living room. Another wonderful date destination. But the drinks will cost you.
If you're not into rich-friend speakeasy's, head over to The Levee instead. The dive to match all dive bars, The Levee is where you'll find the kids of Williamsburg and their friends from other boroughs. With drink specials (my favorite is the Sportsman, a can of cheap beer and a shot of wells whiskey for like, $7), hotdogs, frito pie, and cheese puffs at the bar, this place is pretty much the most incredible bar in the world. Hang out in their new outdoor patio, or play a game of buck hunter with your friends.
10) Dance the night away at Legion
Legion's a bit of a walk, in south Williamsburg, but it's worth it if you feel like dancing. The DJ's are fantastic, and it feels like everyone's in a great mood. Not the place for drinks (just stick to beer), but it's the end of the night anyway. The cool thing about Legion is it's a melting pot of all different kinds of people. There's no label after this bar. Just great music and fun.
Now, hop back on the L Train and head home! Or, if you're smart, take a cab. Get home safe. You've had a fantastic day in the Burg.