Sunset Park: What to do and where to eat in this neighborhood on a hill

By Shaye Weaver

Sunset Park may be considered off-the-beaten-path by some, but it has a lot of worthwhile destinations that are unlike anywhere else in New York City.

Bounded by Park Slope and Green-Wood Cemetery to the north, Bay Ridge to the south and Borough Park to the east, the neighborhood has a wealth of culture, incredible views from its piers and its namesake park and lots to do, especially now that Industry City is up and running.

While it's impossible to list everything one could do here, we have some suggestions on how to spend a day in Sunset Park.

Grab a doughnut and coffee

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Baked in Brooklyn (755 Fifth Ave.) is a good place to stop in the morning to get a fresh pastry and fuel up on caffeine. You can watch the bakery staff do their thing through a window and sit down to eat with a gorgeous view of Green-Wood Cemetery. We recommend sharing any one of their gigantic doughnuts (like the Oreo-flavored one) or a cinnamon sticky roll. The bakery is also known for its baked breads -- breadsticks, pita chips and flatbread crisps. Either way, you're in for a treat.

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

The doughnuts really should be eaten by two or three people.

Spend hours at Green-Wood Cemetery

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We hope you're wearing your sneakers because Green-Wood Cemetery (Fifth Avenue and 25th Street) is well worth exploring for hours. After getting your breakfast, there are 478 acres of hills, ponds, paths and graves to explore and view. There is amazing architecture and monuments you must check out, like the Historic Chapel (pictured) that was built in 1911. Founded in 1838, the cemetery is the final resting place for some of the most famous New Yorkers, including Tammany Hall "Boss" William M. Tweed, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, composer Leonard Bernstein, abolitionist the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and more. The cemetery is open daily and has historic trolley tours, which we recommend since the park is just so expansive.


Grab lunch or brunch at Slimák

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You will have worked up an appetite after sightseeing at Green-Wood, so make your way toward Slimák (pronounced slee-mack) at 4410 Fourth Ave. This cute cafe is a refreshing surprise. With retro tin ceiling tiles, decorative floor tiles and wooden accents, Slimák is a joy to sit in. Brunch is served only on weekends, but it does have a hefty menu of dishes for both breakfast and lunch to choose from, and a heck of a latte. The cafe brews local Devoción coffee from Colombia and sources its ingredients from local farms.

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Slimák's latte.

Get some perspective atop Sunset Park

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

This may be a tough ask after climbing the hills at Green-Wood, but trust us, it's worth it. Sunset Park, the green space the neighborhood is named after, offers an incredible view of downtown Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty and the deep blue water that surrounds them. There are plenty of big trees that provide shade so you can sit down and relax as the breeze cools you down. The park is used by everyone, from young families to seniors, and has abundant wildlife. It's a quiet space to watch the sailboats go by, listen to the church bells chime from Saint Michael's tower, and serves as one of the best hills to sled down in the winter. There is also a public pool here, so if you're feeling the need to chill down further, take a dip. (41st to 44th streets, between Fifth and Seventh avenues)

Wander Industry City

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You can do just about anything at Industry City -- a mall-like series of industrial buildings that have been repurposed with restaurants, shops, art exhibits and fun activities at 274 36th St. This is a good time to get some shopping in, take a whack at foosball or any game in its arcade, check out an exhibit or take in a free concert in one of the park's outdoor spaces. If you want to grab lunch or dinner here, there are plenty of options, from Burger Joint and Avocaderia to Ends Meat and Brooklyn Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Catch a show at Industry City, which hosts a number of free events for the community, including the Bell House Summer Series.

Pick up a knick-knack at Wanted Design

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This home goods store has just about anything you can imagine, from mortar and pestles to linen, candles, art, jewelry and a lot more. The merchandise is cute and you may end up spending a good amount of time inside. It can be found near the food hall building.

Watch the chocolate flow

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Don't skip this one. When you open the door to Li-Lac Chocolates inside Industry City, the sweet smell floods your nasal passages and brings you to chocolate nirvana. Choose a treat from its little shop (like chocolate Oscars, a gorilla, a camera, etc.) or pick a freshly made sweet like a fudge bar, chocolate-covered nuts and melt-in-your-mouth truffles -- you can't go wrong. The shop is inside the company's factory and you can actually watch chocolatiers make their goodies from a window outside the shop.

Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Indulge at Li-Lac Chocolates' kitchen.

Get a strike at Melody Lanes

Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

Melody Lanes is one of the few bowling alleys left in New York City, and it's everything you would hope for. The traditional lanes bring back a lot of nostalgia as you slip on your rented shoes, sip on a beer and pick up your ball. Games are only $7 to $9 a person or can be rented for one hour for $45 or two hours at various prices depending on day and time. As you might hope, glow-in-the-dark bowling takes over the space at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Get a taste of authenticity

Photo Credit: Polly Higgins

With tacos at $1.50 a pop (for the small size), it's no wonder that Tacos El Bronco reigns over not just one, but three areas of Sunset Park. Most people know the two trucks that sit along Fifth (pictured) and Ninth avenues, dishing out paper plate after paper plate of tacos to a never-ending line of hungry customers. But Tacos El Bronco also has a brick-and-mortar shop on Fourth Avenue near 45th Street where the scene gets just as crowded. There's more to choose from at the restaurant than at the truck, like breakfast, meat and rice dishes, seafood and dessert. But with almost two dozen taco varieties, all cheap in price yet rich in quality, it's hard to notice anything else on the menu.

or take a seat at its restaurant

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You'd be remiss to forego a taste at either the truck or the shop. Tacos El Bronco at 4324 Fourth Ave. is a small restaurant, but it packs a flavor punch. You also get complimentary salsa and chips with your meal, served by attentive waitstaff in black.

Enjoy a tasting of local beer

Photo Credit: David Handsuch

Five Boroughs Brewing Co. has opened a streetfront taproom at 215 47th St. with a 12,500-square-foot production facility offering a rotating selection of 16 different brews on tap, including staple beers -- a West Coast-style IPA, Czech-inspired pilsner, gose and hoppy lager, which are available via sampler flights, pints or to-go growlers. The pet-friendly brewery also offers live music and board games from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. Read more about the taproom here.

Be in awe of the largest church in Brooklyn

Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a landmark at Fifth Avenue, between 59th and 60th streets, that leaves quite the impression. Its size allows it to host major diocesan services, like ordinations, and large funerals. So as you head to Sunset Park's Chinatown, don't forget to look up.

Go to Chinatown

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Not THAT Chinatown. Sunset Park has its own and it's one of the biggest and fastest-growing Chinatowns in the city. Go and you will be transfixed by all it has to offer -- from grocery stores like Fei Long Market on Eighth Avenue to the numerous cafes and bubble tea shops.

Get some dim sum

Photo Credit: Nicole Levy

If there's one thing you must do, it's get some dim sum. The pot stickers are plentiful and cheap at this hole-in-the-wall dumpling spot, Kai Feng Fu Dumpling House (4801 Eighth Ave.). A plate or clamshell of four pork-and-leek dumplings will cost you all of $1. Stand at the counter long enough after you've paid, and you can watch just how they're prepared -- a cook packs the jiaozi (as they're called in Mandarin) tightly into a heated wok, adds water and covers the pot to steam them, and then finishes the batch by frying them in oil. The result of that steam-and-fry process: dumplings that crisp nicely on the bottom and stay moist and juicy inside. Sunset Park boasts a number of really good restaurants, so we also suggest East Harbor Seafood Palace (714 65th St.) and Pacificana (813 55th St.), which are crowd favorites.