Brooklyn’s own “Riviera,” Sheepshead Bay has managed to keep its low-key, old-school character as surrounding neighborhoods explode with development.
Bordered by Kings Highway to the north, Ocean Parkway to the west, Gerritsen Avenue to the east and Emmons Avenue to the south, the neighborhood is a mostly residential oasis for immigrants with leafy streets, rowhouses, bodegas and boutiques, but its famous strip — Eammons Avenue — has been its main draw.
Sheepshead Bay’s most popular restaurants overlook the water.
“I’ve been to Turkey and the Mediterranean many times throughout my life, and I can see why my father chose this beautiful waterfront neighborhood,” said Deniz Basusta, the son of Yusuf Basusta, the owner of Liman Restaurant. “It is completely unique and reminiscent of a coastal Mediterranean town. It is an isolated beauty among a vast city, so you get the absolute best of both worlds.”
From sunrise to sunset, here’s how to spend a day in Sheepshead Bay.
Grab a cup and a bite at Coffee Spot Café
Once you step out of the Sheepshead Bay subway station, start your morning off with a good cup of coffee and a homemade breakfast; try the walnut and apple bread at Coffee Spot Café at 1617 Jerome Ave. It is cash only, but it’s worth the inconvenience (a regular coffee is just 75 cents!). It will likely be busy, so give your order and head out the door, or if you want to stay, grab a table in the back. The cafe is cozy and has eclectic wall hangings, from turn-of-the-century French advertisements to a collection of small spoons and other tchotchkes.
Stop into De Luna La Diva and Self-ie
Just a couple of doors down from the coffee shop at 1621 Jerome Ave. is De Luna La Diva, a women’s clothing boutique with uniquely designed dresses, blouses, skirts and sweaters worth checking out.
And as you work your way south to the bay, stop at Self-ie (1804 Sheepshead Bay Rd.), where the mostly Russian-speaking employees have curated a beautiful and funky selection of clothing and accessories (skulls play a big part) that are not only good for every day but for special occasions, too.
Or go fishing
If you’re not into shopping, Sheepshead Bay is actually a good place to fish. Stop into Stella Maris Bait & Tackle at 2702 Emmons Ave. Located next to the water, the Sheepshead Bay landmark has been serving fishermen since 1947. Here you can pick up tackle, traps, nets, rods and tips.
Then take your new equipment and knowledge to the bay or arrange a fishing trip with charters like the Marilyn Jean IV, the Brooklyn VI, Ocean Eagle V, Midnight Fleet, Capt. Dave Fishing and Sea Queen VII. Check fishingbooker.com to see what fish are in season.
Either way, head to the actual Sheepshead Bay
On a clear day, the sun reflects off the blue water of Sheepshead Bay and the colors are all the more vivid. Take a stroll around the water, where you’ll see pure white swans and hungry ducks swimming, and fishermen throwing their lines in. Taking a walk there is very relaxing and offers a breath of fresh air.
Cross the footbridge
You can’t miss it. An electric blue footbridge crosses over the water, giving pedestrians a quicker way to get from one side of the bay to the other. Built in 1880 by robber baron Austin Corbin, the wooden Ocean Avenue bridge was relocated quite a few times until it came to rest at East 19th Street in 1917, according to bklyner.com. If you do anything in Sheepshead Bay, you must cross the bridge.
Go to the beach
There’s no beach in Sheepshead Bay, but Brighton Beach is just a 40-minute walk or 21-minute Q train ride southwest of the neighborhood. The beloved beach offers clean sand and usually more space to stretch out than its popular neighboring Coney Island Beach. We hope you brought a towel and an umbrella because you’ll want to spend some time here. If you forgot something, plenty of stores along Brighton Beach Avenue will have what you need for your beach trip.
Grab lunch at Roll-N-Roaster
Once you’re done soaking in the sun, you’ll surely be hungry. There’s no better place to go than 2901 Emmons Ave. — Roll-N-Roaster — a Sheepshead Bay institution that boasts what some say is the very best roast beef sandwich. Of course, we had to try it for ourselves and ordered the roast beef sandwich with “cheez” and a side of rounded fries. The roast beef was tender, made from steer beef that they roast, trim and slice every day, and the roll it was on was soft and fresh-tasting because it is made daily without preservatives. Cheese fans can feel at home — there is a sign behind the register that says “You can have cheez on anything you pleez.”
Another sandwich to try is at Brennan & Car (3432 Nostrand Ave.), which is direct competition.
Roll-N-Roaster is also notable because it is like a timewarp to simpler days, the 1970s and 80s. The orange decor and yellow tables combined with the announcement of order numbers over a PA system is reminiscent of childhood days spent at McDonald’s. Children under 5 even get a free balloon. What’s not to love?
Take a peek inside Cherry Hill Gourmet Market
Take a stroll to digest and stop into Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at 1901 Emmons Ave. to see a piece of Sheepshead Bay history. The beautiful market with arched ceilings decorated with painted trees and woven baskets is inside the Lundy’s Landing Shopping Plaza with the red roof tiles. The plaza, which was constructed in 1934, is what remains of Lundy’s Restaurant, which was a much-beloved seafood restaurant that lasted from 1926 to 1979. There were attempts to revive the restaurant but none of them lasted.
Reflect at the Holocaust Memorial
A very moving monument to those killed during the Holocaust is nearby at 60 West End Ave. In the middle of the small park is a tall “eternal light” surrounded by granite markers, each one different than the next, that mark names, places and historical events to educate and inspire future generations. You can read the inscriptions as you go to learn about what happened to those being memorialized.
Get dinner at Liman
We suggest seafood for dinner — Liman Restaurant is a neighborhood favorite right on the water at 2710 Emmons Ave. Since 1999, the owner Yusuf Basusta and his staff have been serving dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and Basusta’s Turkish background. Dishes you can’t go wrong with are the famous grilled octopus salad (pictured), the Mediterranean sea bass, or “Levrek” in Turkish, and the St. Peter filet.
“I think that my father’s role and presence day in and day out play a fundamental role in the long term relationships we make with our guests, or friends, as they quickly become,” Deniz Basusta told us. “We set the bar extremely high for ourselves and for our team.”
Other recommendations are Lagman House at 2612 E. 14th St. for hand-pulled noodles and Randazzo’s Clam Bar at 2017 Emmons Ave.
Take the subway to Sheik’s Donuts
You could get Carvel or frozen yogurt nearby for dessert, or you could hop on the Q at the Sheepshead Bay station and ride it three minutes to Avenue U for Shaikh’s Place at 1501-1503 Avenue U. The doughnut shop is open 24 hours a day, so no matter how late you go, there will be a freshly made doughnut waiting for you. We ordered the frosted one with raspberry jelly on top, and it was divine and worth the small trek. (Note: The grungy doughnuttery is also a surprisingly good place to grab a taco or quesadilla.)