Nearly five years ago, the apartment I was subletting suddenly became unavailable. So in a month, I had to move--and having been in NYC for a good while, I knew that I was ready to try something new. Serendipity led me to my high-ceilinged home in a former seltzer factory.
I like to groan for dramatic effect when admitting that I live in Williamsburg at cocktail parties. "But I'm nowhere near being a hipster!" I say. We can make as much fun as we want to about how much of a Disneyland Williamsburg has become, especially in the last five years. But despite talk of it jumping the shark, there are so many reasons why it is a young person's paradise...and why travelers from all over the world flock to this haven for artists, young people, and those doing what's innovative and delicious.
Now, huge luxury hotels are springing up around me and while I get a little peace on the weekdays, on the weekends, the streets are throbbing (often quite literally with a concert happening around the corner) with life. With that, my neighborhood offers to me ideas and opportunities.
It's just 15minutes away from Union Square by train door-to-door, and when I attempt to explain just how idyllic of a neighborhood it is, with bars and restaurants and events and activities and shops lining every block, and beautiful millennials in your yoga class and on your rooftop, I just end up sounding like a pain-the-neck.
Granted, we do get some riffraff on the weekends, but stay for longer and you'll get the goodness all to yourself.
The Williamsburg waterfront: Manhattan really does dazzle when viewed from outside in. Go for a stroll, a run, biking, dog-walking. It's like your own beach just minutes away. On a nice day, there's no better way to get to your next destination than the ferry.
McCarren Park: It's not Central Park or Prospect Park, but it is SO accessible.
Wythe Hotel: You should stay here. By Andrew Tarlow the quiet-but-formidable restaurateur behind Diner, Marlow & Sons and more practically created the brand of Williamsburg-cool.
Reynard: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this sunny, stunning and laid-back restaurant inside of the Wythe Hotel has got coffee, wifi, drinks and deliciousness by chef Sean Rembold. It's New American and has got everything on the menu, but what all chefs know is that you can tell how good one cooks by assessing your eggs...and Sean's omelette is perfection. He also obsesses over his soups. But anything you order is tasty and obsessively sourced from the best local ingredients. (photo credit: NYTimes)
The Ides Bar: If you didn't get invited to a local friend's apartment rooftop, you can head to this bar at the top of The Wythe Hotel. Stunning views of the city. Don't go on a Friday or Saturday when it's mobbed.
Diner: Absolutely locals' favorite. Menu written by hand, changes every day.
Yoga To the People: Donation-based yoga, including hot yoga and vinyasa flow.
Luksus (and Torst): Michelin-starred Daniel Burns formerly of Noma and Momofuku partnered with Evil Twin Brewing to open the beer bar Torst, will will knock your beer nerd socks off with its taps that are customizable by temperature and pressure to every beer. Luksus is the tiny tasting menu restaurant in the back. At $115/pp, it's a steal.
Five Leaves: Darling brunch spot. Get the Moroccan egg scramble. You can sit outside. Go on the early side or on a weekday or there will be a wait. (photo credit:Paper Mag)
Maison Premiere: $1 oyster happy hour, but not your typical set of one or two choices. Here you get to select from lots of varieties for the oyster feast of your dreams. Absolutely adorable New Orleans style decor...and seriously stellar cocktails. These fellows were nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. No Big Deal, this is my neighborhood bar. I can never resist a refreshing swizzle or something spiked with absinthe when I come here. Look up the hours and come when there's least likely to be other people. QUEUE ALERT, but worth the patience. (photo credit: BK Mag)