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Dec 15, 2009 07:15 PM

Good places to live in Brooklyn based on food/bevs?

I live out west but work for a NYC based company and am thinking of moving in order to advance the career. Brooklyn seems to be a choice place to consider living, based on proximity to work and budget.

That said, I've only visited the borough once or twice, so while I browsing apartments online, I really don't know much about the neighborhoods. Being single, I'm not really looking for best schools, etc. But one thing I am interested in is proximity to good eats... and by that I'm not talking about "Luger-like, best of " - just a good mix of local choices. Simple, no frills ethnic/international places, tasty takeout, interesting markets/delis, farmer's markets. Love all foods, but am particular to cuisines with a kick... SE Asian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, etc.

Also, being new (and single), a few local, no-hype social taverns with good beers/grub wouldn't hurt. By no means am I wanting to start a debate on one area versus another... just trying to get a sense if there are particular clusters that I might want to put on the list. I'll obviously visit before making a final choice, but this will help me when researching from afar. Plus it might help others who want to go on a chow crawl!


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  1. Bay Ridge...
    Has or adjacent to. pretty much everything you mentioned. Only drawback: Parking is very difficult

    17 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      Bay Ridge is a loooong way from Manhattan. I haven't heard it's a mecca for singles, either. A mecca for singles and excellent food is Williamsburg. That's much closer to Manhattan, although it isn't well-served by mass transit. It might also be kinda pricey to live there.

      Along similar lines, Carroll Gardens / Gowanus near Smith Street has good grub, good bars, and seems to have lotsa singles having a very good time. Better mass transit, depending on where exactly you live, and kinda pricey real estate.

      Neither of those are ethnic enclaves. For Mexican, Chinese, and cheap digs, Sunset Park might do you for. It's further out, OK mass transit. The great Indian nabes are in Queens, which you might want to look into as well. They'll have cheaper digs and pretty good mass transit, with increasing numbers of singles.

      Hope that helps.

      1. re: BklnChicken

        To round out that list, I would include the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and, to a lesser extent, Fort Greene. These are all "gentrified" areas now, with decent transportation options and lots of restaurants and bars. I think of these areas as very livable, but not necessarily culinary destinations. There are definitely standout restaurants, as well and cheap & cheerful local joints, but after a while a lot of the options start to feel the same.

        The real ethnic food can be found further out, as mentioned above. Sunset Park for Mexican and Chinese, Flatbush for West Indian and Punjabi, Brighton Beach for Russian, etc.

        1. re: BklnChicken

          If you live on the L line, Williamsburg may be the best for getting into the city.

          1. re: BklnChicken

            "Bay Ridge is a loooong way from Manhattan. I haven't heard it's a mecca for singles, either. A mecca for singles and excellent food is Williamsburg. That's much closer to Manhattan, although it isn't well-served by mass transit. It might also be kinda pricey to live there"
            I'd have to disagree. Manh is so easily reached from BR.both by subway/express bus and car. It's also a beautiful, relatively safe neighborhoood. Lots of fairly affluent singles living in BR. The problem with Williamsburg is that it's still a dumpy somewhat decayed area and waaay, waaay overpriced

            1. re: Tay

              Leaving the descriptions of williamsburg aside, I have to disagree with Tay above. Bay Ridge is exceedingly far from manhattan and really only served by one subway line which ranks last in terms of speed/service every year in the straphanger's rankings. Additionally, it is very monochromatic in terms of its population, so if you are considering living there you should spend a few nights/days out there and make sure you like the vibe. Lastly, aside from it's proximity to sunset park, I really can't think of any good restaurants in this neighborhood...

              1. re: StheJ

                Honestly, No part of BR is 'exceedingly far' from Manh. I used to catch the express bus at 3rd and 69th St and one traffic light later it zipped right up the 65th St ramp onto the BQE. I've also caught the "R" and found it to be clean and speedy.. As for food/drink, there are probably more pubs/taverns serving good bar food per block than any other Brooklyn neighborhood. We used to joke that the crime rate was probably so low b/c everyone was too tanked to cause much trouble. :-)
                Bay Ridge is just a clean, beautiful neighborhood, filled with great small store shopping on both 3rd and 5th Aves. Great Deli's, specialty food shops, etc.
                I'm not sure what you mean by", Monochromatic in terms of its population,"
                but I completely agree with your very wise sugggestion of spending some days checking out ANY area before moving..
                As for good restos, here is a great one...


                1. re: Tay

                  1. I mean that the population is not particularly diverse in terms of race/ethnicity/religion. So if you like diversity, Bay Ridge may not the place for you.

                  2. I guess we have different definitions of being close to the city. To me close to the city means 15/20 minutes from your door to lower manhattan. So bay ridge doesn't fit my definition.

                  1. re: StheJ

                    Very true. For a long time it was populated by Scandinavians and Irish.
                    Now Ii's becoming more diverse in terms of an increasing Asian and Middle Eastern pop.
                    I agree.with you. By public transpo during rush hr, BR is more than 15-20 min but not by much. It used to take me 25-30 min by bus to 34th and 6th Ave. Still, well past your comfort distance.

                    1. re: Tay

                      And, let's be honest the "quick" express buses, aren't exactly a bargain.

                      1. re: EJC

                        It's the MTA. The fare is what it is :-) . There are no bargains, nor were any implied.

                        1. re: Tay

                          It's a bit disingenuous to praise the painless commute from Bay Ridge, when you're relying on an Express Bus, which is twice as expensive as a typical subway and/or bus ride. (I have a wife that commutes to St. John's everyday and am somewhat familiar with the subject)

                          Anyways, back on topic...
                          while I love certain meals in Bay Ridge, I recently had a late 20s friend move to Bay Ridge as his first NYC neighborhood and it wasn't ideal for him. The family-oriented, Brooklyn born and raised crowd was a tough nut for him to crack.

                          1. re: EJC

                            "It's a bit disingenuous to praise the painless commute from Bay Ridge, when you're relying on an Express Bus, which is twice as expensive as a typical subway and/or bus ride"
                            Please read my earlier posting. As stated previously, I never said nor implied the express bus was the most cost effective way to commute. You failed to note I also mentioned the 'R' subway line as an alternative
                            Bay Ridge offers a number of things on the OP's 'Wish List' that are food/AKA: Chowhound relevant. I am just pointing out that the commute from BR should not deter him.

                    2. re: StheJ

                      have to say i dont get the diversity argument - in terms of ethnic populations bay ridge and adjoining area are much more diverse than downtown brooklyn oy williamsbugh, try to get a good felafel or chinese in one of the downtown nabes for example.

                      the real diff in my view is that the downtown nabes, closer to "the City" are peopled much more with Manhattan-oriented NY incomers like the OP (and me) with lots of restaurants , food stores and bars to cater to them. Bay Ridge is more of a traditional Brooklyn neighborhood, more oriented to families and particular rather interesting ethnic communities.

                      1. re: StheJ

                        Bay Ridge is probably more diverse than most of the other neighborhoods mentioned. Putting it bluntly, the gentrified neighborhoods are just as white as bay ridge in the hip centers. BR is less cool because it is in fact not too close to manhattan. people who live here get more space for less money. plus, BR has some of the best restaurants in bk, followed i think by smith street. there are lots of singles in this area, just not hipster types. yes, some of them stepped out of the sopranos. and yes, many grew up in working class families and now work in white collar jobs. this area is earthy and real.

                        1. re: spgayle

                          I won't argue whatever concept of "diversity" you're defending or your generalization about "earthy and real." Does that mean other areas or people who live in them are less "real"?

                          The OP will be a new arrival hoping for good, interesting and diverse food. We can assume meeting friends and dates might be an issue as well. You're seriously saying taking the X bus home every night will provide some of the best restaurants in Bklyn? And what about the diversity of food choices and markets (and yes I understand Bay Ridge has some great Middle Eastern places and one well liked Sichuan)?

                          1. re: spgayle


                            I'm not saying that I don't believe you when you say "BR has some of the best restaurants in bk" it's just that in my experience of living in bk my whole life and growing up in br one way or another, this is just simply false.

                            Please list the restaurants about which you speak.

                      2. re: StheJ

                        In terms of distance, Bay Ridge is not as far away from Manhatten as you can get in Brooklyn, but it's pretty close. The premium cost Express buses will knock some time off the commute, because the R Subway line which serves it runs local and is one of the slowest trains in the system.

                        There are singles in Bay Ridge. There are singles everywhere. But Bay Ridge is primarily a family oriented neighborhood. There are more one family homes than almost all other parts of Brooklyn, although there are a bunch of two family homes also, and a sprinkling of apartment buildings.

                        There are a lot of bars in Bay Ridge, and quite a few places to eat with a wide ethnic variety.

                        Demographically it is mostly Caucasion. I lived there, and the first time I ever saw a Black person south of 65th Street was in the early '90s, and it was a bit shocking.

                2. This is kind of a hard question to answer without more details. For example, where will you be working? How old are you / what kind of nightlife do you like? In my opinion, the best neighborhoods for the ethnic cuisines you mentioned are not necessarily the best for commuting into the city or meeting singles at bars. Brooklyn is a very big place. With a little more info we can narrow it down to a few helpful suggestions.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chorosch

                    Thanks. I'm latter 30s and am not into the see and be seen scenes... more inclined to like taverns and such with good food as an option.

                    Our office is in SoHo on Hudson, just S. of Houston. I'm not quite sure which Brooklyn neighborhoods are easier commutes... most would seem to need a transfer. I'll also work from home quite a bit, hence the interest in markets, affordable takeout, etc. versus special occasion experiences.

                    So I guess in order to keep the focus on food, I'll amend the post to ask for recs on neighborhoods that are both chow-friendly and also transit friendly to SoHo. This post might also help people living/working/visiting SoHo do the reverse... explore Brooklyn eats.

                    1. re: tastyjon

                      With that in mind, my personal recommendation as a starting point would be to check out Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill. It's a comfortable enough area for late 30's, good bars, a few really good restaurants and lots of great Middle Eastern food along Atlantic Avenue. You could also do Williamsburg (which has much more nightlife, but tends to age a little younger.) Neither commute would be too bad (transfers are pretty common in NYC.)

                      Part of the reason I lean more toward Boerum Hill is that you would be really close to a lot of other neighborhoods and cuisines, and there is a big greenmarket in Park Slope. Commute would probably be about 30 minutes.... many transit options at Atlantic Avenue station.

                      Here are a few things in that general area to check out. Other 'hounds can think of more, I'm sure:

                      Sahadi's (market)
                      Saul (restaurant - one Michelin Star)
                      the farmer's market @ Prospect Park
                      Waterfront Ale House (good burgers)
                      Zaytoons (middle eastern restaurant)
                      The Brooklyn Inn (great bar)

                      There are lots, lots more. Just a start if you want to get a feel for the area from afar.

                      1. re: tastyjon

                        I'm gonna put in a bid for my neighborhood, Carroll Gardens, which I love. Old Italian neighborhood, and while there are fewer italian spots than there used to be, there are still enough to make it interesting--the old guys speaking italian and playing bocce are still in the park.
                        Easy commute (with one change across the platform) to your office; within walking distance of atlantic ave, sahadi's, trader joe's, etc.
                        Don't love love much of the dining around here, but some nice shops for sandwiches, fresh pasta, italian things, and decent takeout options, and probably people who don't want the best/cheapest renditions of things like banh mi or dumplings or tortas will be totally satisfied with what's around.
                        Honestly, I tend to think of Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill/Red Hook as one large neighborhood (tho I won't use the dreaded name for it) so anywhere around here is good. I'm partial to Carroll Gardens because it does have the nice italian vibe, a nice little farmer's market on sunday, some decent (if sometimes crowded) bars and kind of a real small-town neighborhoody feel. But anywhere in these neighborhoods would suit you fine.

                        Fort Greene is also convenient for commuting and nice, but IMHO doesn't have as good food shopping possibilities.

                    2. I can only tell you one neighborhood where you s/ not live- Brighton Beach/Little Odessa- very long subway ride to Manhattan, and not ethnically varied enough, mostly all Russian now. Great if you dig only that, but am sure there are other places that would float your boat in a better way. Even Sheepshead Bay has a better variety of cuisine. Sorry, have not lived in NYC for a million years, only get back there every few years.

                      1. Good no-hype awesome beer social taverns in the Boerum Hill/ North Slope area. 4th Ave Pub, Pacific Standard, The Gate etc. Also many solid restaurants and centrally located so Ft Greene, Smith St are a short walk away. Also you have Atlantic Terminal nearby for awesome eats. JK, almost every subway stops there and the LIRR.

                        1. There are lots of singles settling all over brooklyn - with Williamsburg being one concentration only. Many of the downtown brooklyn neighborhoods (Park Slope, Prospect Hts, Boerum Hill or Cobble Hill for example) can be (depending on exactly where you are) very convenient to transportation to Manhattan. Because of the gentrification in all these areas, there is not a lot of cheap ethnic eating, but its generally easy to get to communities such as sunset park (for Mexican/Central American or Chinese), Manhattan Chinatown, Bay Ridge, and other enclaves for more eating options. These downtown neighborhoods also have greenmarkets where local farmers bring local products to consumers as well as a Trader Joes, several good natural foods and specialty grocers for good cheeses, breads etc as well as a food coop (in Park Slope).

                          Other neighborhoods, such as Midwood, Bushwick, Crown Hts. sunset Park, etc are less gentrified with lower rents but may (not always) have more cheap ethnic eating options. they may also be farther out and less convenient to transport. (this may not always be the case depending on where you work, for example, Fort Green, Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy could be more convenient if your work is near the A line, which runs through that area. Sunset Park if the N works for you, etc.

                          I think the best advice is to visit and see what neighborhood feels right to you.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jen kalb

                            However, keep in mind while you are browsing from afar that what Jen is describing as "downtown" neighborhoods should not be confused with "downtown Brooklyn" itself. Until recently, there was not a lot of residential development in downtown Brooklyn, and it has not really taken off as a neighborhood yet.

                            Landlords are offering great deals there, but there is very little in terms of services (e.g: grocery stores, restaurants etc) that is not concentrated on the Fulton Mall. The new luxury condos may look good on the internet, but that is one neighborhood you definitely want to visit before you rent something.

                            1. re: chorosch

                              There is a cluster of neighborhoods called downtown brooklyn or "Brownstone Brooklyn". which includes Brooklyn Hts, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Hts, Park Slope. (some would include Clinton Hill, Vinegar Hill, Dumbo in this list). Most of the major subway lines move through this area which is adjacent to Manhattan and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge Crossings. These neighborhoods have experienced significant gentrification and development over the last 30 years with many new restaurants and foodstores serving the new population and a diminishing of the former more economical establishments (hispanic, etc) tho there are still significant italian and midde eastern elements, as well as hispanic (more central and mexican american and less puerto rican and dominican than in the past) and african american populations in the area . There is also a commercial office concentration in the midst of this residential development which is what chorosch is referring to. Many new high rises have been bullt in and around the area, many in locations where there is very little street life or consumer infrastructure. Real Estate ads in Brooklyn are often inaccurate or dishonest in describing the neighborhood where a specific building is located. So you want to get oriented with map aids and cruise the area before believing what they say..