Bushwick, a predominantly Latino neighborhood landlocked between Bed-Stuy, East Williamsburg and Ridgewood, has become a haven for artists and 20-somethings resulting in a wave of bars and restaurants but also the realities of increased development and rising rents.
That’s why it’s important to explore the neighborhood as it exists right now, where you can find an eclectic mix of dive bars, book stores, incredibly vivid street art, and delicious food.
Easily accessed by the L, J and M trains, there’s no reason not to spend a day there, and we can help, from sunrise to sunset.
Start your day at Sunrise/Sunset
This cafe and bar is not exactly open from sunrise to sunset, but it offers options for any time of day. Sunrise/Sunset, at 351 Evergreen Ave., has plenty of seating and natural light from the storefront windows, so it’s also a great spot to bring your laptop and order a coffee. It’s also good for a leisurely brunch with choices like braised beef hash, multigrain pancakes and a brunch burger with a fried egg, and the day menu includes a chipotle chicken sandwich, a salmon sandwich, the Sunset Burger, penne boscaiola and more.
See street artists’ talent
Bushwick is known for its incredible street art, and it’s something you couldn’t miss if you tried. The Bushwick Collective, an outdoor gallery centered around Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, has allowed a number of walls to be turned into giant murals. If you get off at the Jefferson Street L train station and start walking toward Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, you’ll see a mix of both realistic and abstract paintings. There are tour companies that can show you around, but we think it’s less touristy and more respectful to residents to see them on your own.
Pick up some art supplies at Soho Art Materials
Feeling inspired? Head to 36 Gardner Ave. to Soho Art Materials, where you’ll find what you need to create your own masterpiece, including canvasses, brushes, paints, including spray paint, and sketchbooks.
Find some vintage duds
There are a number of vintage shops in the area, including Worship (pictured, left) at 117 Wilson Ave., and Chess and the Sphinx, at 252 Knickerbocker Ave. Both offer clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry and other accessories. Some items can be a little pricey, but there are plenty of options for $50 or less.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, head over to L Train Vintage at 1377 Dekalb Ave., which has two floors of clothing — many items are $20 or less. And if you’re in the mood for a different type of shopping, check out the record selection at Radio Free Brooklyn, which is on the same block.
Eat lunch at Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos
If you’re looking for a cheap bite that still tastes delicious, look no further than Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, at 271 Starr St. The restaurant doubles as a tortilla factory and offers your favorite Mexican classics, including tacos, taquitos and quesadillas. Everything is less than $5, but you’ll definitely want to order more than one thing.
To order, grab an index card, write your name and order and then note whether it’s to go or to stay. Take your card to the register to pay, and take a seat. When your order is ready, they’ll call your name. Be prepared with cash because credit cards are not accepted.
Support the community and spend time at Mil Mundos
Nearly 50 percent of Mil Mundos’ books are in Spanish and represent a wide range of genres, from the political and cultural to sci-fi and speculative fiction with a focus on black and Latinx heritage.
"The only way to resist the onslaught of development is to put your nails in the ground and hold that space," she said. "There needs to be a place for the neighborhood that is already here."
Another bookstore you may want to check out is at 770 Hart St. Molasses Books is a good place to take a coffee break. Here, you can browse the selection of used books, most priced under $10, and grab a coffee at the bar. Beer ($4 to $6) and wine ($7) are also available. You can also sell your own books. The store/cafe is open until midnight every day, and there are often readings and other events.
Sort through the stacks at Brooklyn Record Exchange
From the team behind Co-Op 87 Records & Tape and indie label Mexican Summer, the Brooklyn Record Exchange at 599 Johnson Ave. is a new shop located on the second floor of Bushwick’s music hall Elsewhere. About 90 percent of its stacks are used and include a "solid collection" of genres like disco, post-punk, new wave, a large collection of jazz, rock and soul, as well as a wall of records for DJs, soundtracks and a "healthy chunk" of 45s, co-owner Mike Hunchback told us.
"We love stocking new releases … but the used records is really what we’re excited about and what will be the bulk of what we have," he said.
Other record shops you may want to peruse include Vinyl Fantasy (194 Knickerbocker Ave.) and Human Head Records (168 Johnson Ave.).
Grab a pint at The Rookery
You won’t have a problem finding a bar in Bushwick. Among the choices are The Sampler (234 Starr St.), Idlewild (24 St. Nicholas Ave.) and Boobie Trap (308 Bleecker St.), where a topless mannequin serves as a tap.
For a wide beer, cocktail and wine selection, check out The Rookery (pictured), at 425 Troutman St. Order some "pub grub" — like an oxtail sloppy Joe, fish and chips or portobello vegetarian burger — with your drink. Or stick around for the late-night menu, which includes a beer and burger special. The weekend brunch is best served on the outdoor patio.
Insider tip: An Instagram-worthy view
It doesn’t border any bodies of water, but Bushwick has one of the best spots to view the Manhattan skyline right outside the DeKalb Avenue L train station on Wyckoff Avenue. Look west toward the city for a glimpse of the Empire State Building framed between the Brooklyn neighborhood’s buildings.
Get dinner at Faro
Nearby at 436 Jefferson St., Faro is our best bet for a good hearty meal. The Michelin-starred restaurant is owned by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Debbie Adey. It used to be a storage space for the Museum of Modern Art, but now it’s a cozy Italian restaurant with an open kitchen that uses seasonal and local ingredients. We recommend the squid ink strozzapreti, the bucatini or the dry-aged duck breast.
For something more casual, head to Brooklyn Cider House at 1100 Flushing Ave., where you can catch alcoholic apple cider from Twin Star Orchards from a barrel and eat comfort food like Korean chicken wings and burgers on its deck.
Catch a show at Elsewhere
Elsewhere at 599 Johnson Ave. managed to create a name for itself with performances by Charli XCX and New York’s Princess Nokia in its Hall and Zone One spaces during its first year as a music venue for emerging artists (see its event calendar here). It also launched its own art program, Landscape, using a portion of ticket sales to commission seasonal artwork to exist in the venue. And at the end of year one, Elsewhere raised more than $50,000 to help fund local art projects and cover artists’ supply costs, co-owner Rosenthal Haykal told us. It’s a really unique venue because it also has parties and shows on its rooftop.
Or head to House of Yes for a night of wild fun
You have probably been wondering what that brightly-colored building at 2 Wyckoff Ave. is — how could you miss it? It’s the House of Yes and its waiting to take you into its crazy, circuslike atmosphere for the night.
"The space really embodies a creative spirit that doesn’t say no to anything," co-owner Anya Sapozhnikova, an aerialist, dancer and costume designer, told us in 2016.
The nightclub is divided into three spaces, each with a different vibe — including one with disco balls and dance poles and another with metal structures to put on interactive theater.
We promise it will be a wild ride.