What to do and where to eat in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn’s peaceful neighborhood

Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens offers a peaceful and fun day full of good food, cute boutiques and scenic streets. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

From brunch at Buttermilk Channel to drinks at Bar Great Harry, we have your day planned from sunrise to sunset.

Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens offers a peaceful and fun day full of good food, cute boutiques and scenic streets.
Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens offers a peaceful and fun day full of good food, cute boutiques and scenic streets. Photo Credit: New York Transit Museum

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker can all still be found in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens.

Bound by Red Hook to the south, Boerum Hill to the north and Gowanus to the east, the neighborhood is a much-loved area because of its tree-lined streets, its mom-and-pop stores and its peaceful and historic atmosphere.

While it’s become a fairly expensive place to live, it still remains one of the nicest places to visit and has a lot to offer, including shopping at boutiques, enjoying its sweets and taking advantage of its unique bars.

So to help you plan a day there, we’ve gathered some of the best places to eat, shop and hang out in this lovely neighborhood.

Start your day with Buttermilk Channel

Buttermilk Channel's French toast is a popular brunch item.
Buttermilk Channel’s French toast is a popular brunch item. Photo Credit: Alison Fox

When you arrive in Carroll Gardens, after hopping off the F or G train, your first thought should be pecan pie bourbon French toast from Buttermilk Channel, located at 524 Court St. The restaurant, a known favorite of Beyoncé, feels like you’ve stepped into the best of Brooklyn: exposed brick walls, Bloody Marys and cheddar waffles. But the star of the menu, in our humble sugar-loving opinion, is that drenched, syrupy French toast.

Stroll through the side streets 

People walking on 2nd Place between Clinton and Henry streets in Carroll Gardens.
People walking on 2nd Place between Clinton and Henry streets in Carroll Gardens. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

After breakfast, take a walk through the neighborhood and work off the decadent meal. Stroll down Clinton Street and take in the beautiful historic brownstones and tree-lined sidewalks. Zigzag through the side streets that give the neighborhood its charm, and make your way to Court Street. 

Brownstones on First Place near the corner of Henry Street in Carroll Gardens.
Brownstones on First Place near the corner of Henry Street in Carroll Gardens. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Flip through records at Black Gold 

The stacks at Black Gold, the vinyl record store on Court Street, are numerous.
The stacks at Black Gold, the vinyl record store on Court Street, are numerous. Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

If it’s the full experience you seek, head over to Black Gold Records at 461 Court St. and enjoy antique furnishings, taxidermy and specialty coffee with your music. The vinyl selection appeals mostly to rock fans, but the sounds, like the merchandise, vary greatly. You never know just what you’ll find. 

Or stop into loot

Loot, a comic book store geared toward kids, sells and lends books above Frankies on Court Street.
Loot, a comic book store geared toward kids, sells and lends books above Frankies on Court Street. Photo Credit: Catherine Michelle Bartlett

If you or your kid is a comics fan, check out loot at 457 Court St., right above Frankie’s 457 Sputino. The shop is geared toward kids — it’s "merchandised in a way that some art could catch the eye of a young person, or any person, walking through," owner Joe Einhorn says. "They might catch an artist or title and we’d follow up from there. We’re trying to take on the vibe of how people like to browse visually." The comic books, which are by DC, Marvel and Image and include some manga titles, are $5 a piece or can be borrowed one at a time for $30 a month. Kids who create comics will keep 90 percent of their sales, which converts into "loot" or credit toward their membership. The shop is open daily for kids with their parents from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adults wanting to peruse the selection need to make an appointment by direct messaging the shop on its Instagram account.

Pick up some freshly baked goods 

Mazzola Bakery at 192 Union St. is known for its bread. 
Mazzola Bakery at 192 Union St. is known for its bread.  Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Mazzola Bakery at 192 Union St. is known for its lard bread, made with Genoa salami, provolone cheese, black pepper and prosciutto, and customers have a variety of bread to choose from, including pane Italiano, pictured, an artisanal bread made with white flour and wheat and baked in a brick oven. A family business open since 1928, the bakery transferred from one family (the Mazzolas) to another (the Caravellos) in 1980.

"The taste is always the same so people always come back for it," says Josephine Messina, who runs Mazzola with her brothers, Frank and Anthony Caravello. Coffee, cookies and breakfast items (bagels, muffins and croissants) can be found at Mazzola, as well. 

Relax in Carroll Park 

Carroll Park offers a shady respite when you've been shopping all morning.
Carroll Park offers a shady respite when you’ve been shopping all morning. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Make your way down to Carroll Park (between President and Carroll streets at Smith Street) where you can sit for a while on one of the benches and rest after all that food and shopping. The park itself was originally planned as a private garden in the late 1840s, according to the city. It was named for Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Get a pie from Lucali

Lucali, at 575 Henry St., is another pizza spot that has been so thoroughly hyped, is so critically acclaimed and well-loved, that it’s hard to imagine the food will live up to it. But the laid-back, comfortable, dimly lit pizzeria run by Carroll Gardens native Mark Iacono doesn’t disappoint.

There’s no paper menu: just pies, calzones and toppings. The pizzas, sprinkled with fresh basil and garlic (other toppings are extra), are extraordinary. So are the calzones, but that’s another list for another day. Yes, you’ll wait — so plan on toting around a bottle of wine or two (it’s BYOB), spending an hour or more at a nearby bar while you await your call from the hostess with the wonderful news that it’ll be your turn to enjoy a pretty perfect pizza.

Indulge in a Brooklyn Farmacy egg cream

Pete Freeman, co-owner of the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, in Carroll Gardens, makes a chocolate egg cream.
Pete Freeman, co-owner of the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, in Carroll Gardens, makes a chocolate egg cream. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

If you need a pick-me-up after all that exploring, head to Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain at 513 Henry St. for some ice cream or a snack, from a classic egg cream to the enormous sundaes, which keep people coming back. We recommend the Mr. Potato Head, which features locally made vanilla ice cream, homemade peanut butter, potato chips, caramel and whipped cream. This is also available in half size, which is full size for most normal humans.

The building itself is steeped in history, first opened as an apothecary in the 1920s that stayed open for decades. It eventually shut its doors until the current owners bought and renovated the space, restoring many original details like the tin ceilings and tile floors to their former glory in the process. Now, the soda "jerks," as they’re called, serve up delicious ice cream and sandwiches that make you feel like you stepped right into the 1950s.

Or spice things up at Malai

Pooja Bavishi, owner of Malai, holds a cone of ice cream.
Pooja Bavishi, owner of Malai, holds a cone of ice cream. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

If you want to try something new, head to Malai at 268 Smith St., which uses Indian spices in its ice cream — ginger, saffron, cardamom and rose, among others — to create 22 flavors. The most popular is rose with cinnamon-roasted almonds and masala chai. Get those topped with peanut chikki, cocoa nib and cardamom shortbread.

Play some games at The Brooklyn Strategist 

The Brooklyn Strategist lets you rent a table and spend your night playing Catan, Ticket to Ride, Dominion and other board games.
The Brooklyn Strategist lets you rent a table and spend your night playing Catan, Ticket to Ride, Dominion and other board games. Photo Credit: The Brooklyn Strategist

This board game cafe and social club at 333 Court St. has more than 500 games you can play. For about $10, you can rent a table and play any game of your choosing, from Settlers of Catan to Ticket to Ride and more. There’s no limit, except for time. There are also scheduled events, leagues and tournaments you can join in on, too. It’s a fun way to end your night and isn’t far from neighboring bars if you want to wrap up your visit to Carroll Gardens with a drink.

Sip on a drink and play some pinball at Bar Great Harry 

Bar Great Harry is a welcoming and laid-back watering hole for those wanting to cap their day with a drink.
Bar Great Harry is a welcoming and laid-back watering hole for those wanting to cap their day with a drink. Photo Credit: Bar Great Harry

This spacious watering hole, Bar Great Harry at 280 Smith St., not only has a huge craft beer menu, including local choices like Transmitter, that rotates, it has pinball machines to play and a cozy atmosphere that is easy to melt into. If you’re peckish, you can bring in your own food, too. It’s a definite way to end your day in a good way.

Shaye Weaver