This week, Here editors play homage to the New York City neighborhoods they call home. Editorial Director Ally Betker shares her guide to Prospect Heights in Brooklyn.
If there was a competition for the Perfect New York Neighborhood, I think Prospect Heights would give everyone else a run for their money. There are brownstones, there are bars, there are world-class restaurants. There’s Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Public Library, The Brooklyn Museum! I mean, c’mon!
It’s true, I am biased because I live there. But since it is the 6th New York neighborhood I have lived in over eight and a half years, I feel well-qualified to judge. I believe it’s the ideal ‘hood to spend a weekend day, given the number of activities and restaurants to fill your time. My only advice—come hungry, and stay late.
Ally Betker’s Perfect Day in Prospect Heights
9:00 a.m. — (IV) Drip Coffee
I am what they call a coffee addict, and my day never really gets started until I’ve had a cup of the good stuff—drip coffee, black. Luckily I’m not hurting for options in my neighborhood, and my go-to is a mere 30 steps to the right of my front door. Cafe Eloise is cute and cozy and LGBTQ-owned. There’s outdoor seating out front, where there are always at least two dogs hanging out. It’s the very definition of a neighborhood coffee shop. Otherwise, there’s Milk Bar, which is good if I’m also looking for a quick bite—their Banana Berry Toast is so simple but so good. If I’m looking for somewhere to do laptop work for a few hours, there’s Sit & Wonder Cafe, which has the sweetest little backyard.
10:00 a.m. — Most Important Meal of the Day
That’s breakfast! And I am not one to skimp. Meme’s Diner is the popular option, but I honestly prefer it for dinner (order the veggie burger). Tom’s is the neighborhood diner at the other end of the spectrum—ancient, rather than hipster—and you go for the old-time vibes and the pancakes. For something a little more refined, head to Oxalis. The inventive menu just garnered a 2019 Michelin star, and the best way to experience it is the $35 pre-fixe brunch menu (half the price of their nightly pre-fixe menu), featuring items like a chou fleur polonaise and heirloom cranberry bean ragout. Best enjoyed in the restaurant’s sunlit back room.
11: 30 a.m. — Take A Stroll
It will surprise absolutely noone that Prospect Park is the pride and joy of the neighborhood. My perfect day definitely involves a jog around the roughly 3.5-mile loop, if not also a second lap. If I’m feeling less active, one of my favorite activities (especially in the summer), is to pack snacks, a bottle of wine, and picnic blanket and pass a few leisurely hours under my favorite tree (yes I have one). Near the entrance of the park, you’ll find the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, as well as the weekly Saturday farmer’s market—both of which I frequent regularly.
1:00 p.m. — Lunch Break
There are scores of places to eat on Franklin Avenue (which may technically be Crown Heights, but no matter). Go to Glady’s for Carribean jerk chicken and beans and rice; Chavela’s for sit-down Mexican fare, and Gueros for casual tacos and slushy margaritas.
2:30 p.m. — Afternoon at the Museum
With consistently rotating exhibits and a killer permanent collection, you could visit The Brooklyn Museum every weekend and still see something new. The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, Kehinde Wiley’s “Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps,” and Kara Walker’s linocuts are some of my favorite pieces permanently on view. Fun fact: The museum’s restaurant, The Norm, rotates chefs and themes depending on the current exhibit. Account for spending some time at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which is next door, afterward.
6:00 p.m. — Cocktail Hour
You may have discerned by now that there is no shortage of food and drink in Prospect Heights. Before dinner, head to Lalou, a new natural wine bar; or, if you’re more of the craft beer type, Covenhoven or Gold Star Beer Counter. For cocktails, go to Weather Up or Bearded Lady—just be warned, the latter’s frozen drinks are lethal.
8:00 p.m. — Dinner Time
Hope you saved room! Olmsted on Vanderbilt is the darling of the ‘hood, thanks in part to the fact that its farm-to-table offerings come from the backyard garden, where you can and should enjoy a drink before your meal. (Can you say sweet potato and uni pierogies?!) However, the team just opened a sister restaurant across the street called Maison Yaki, that, dare I say, I prefer. French-Japanese fusion, with yakitori-style skewers (pork belly, chicken wing, trumpet mushroom, etc.) a beef tongue sandwich with gribiche that you have to order, and a natural wine list with half pours, it’s like Olmsted’s wild and free younger sibling. Runners up: The Fly, a wine-forward restaurant with a simple menu of roast chicken and sides; and Fausto, for pasta and a vibe that’s parent and first date friendly.
11:00 p.m. — Late Night
Friends and Lovers is my favorite dancing spot—expect cash only, well drinks, and themed parties including the Funky Love Revival Party on the first Saturday of each month. If it’s more of a couch and TV night (Modern Love YOU GUYS), I’ll stop by Van Leeuwen’s for vegan chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream on my way home.