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Things to Do

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn: What to do and where to eat around town

Move over, Williamsburg. Brooklyn has a lot more to offer than stops along the L train.

Enter Ditmas Park, a neighborhood off the Q train that's bustling with young professionals and families. It may be a small neighborhood, nestled between Flatbush and Kensington, but there's no shortage of things to do.

While Cortelyou Road is a must -- that's where you'll find the largest concentration of restaurants -- you'll definitely want to stroll the side streets for an urban cleanse via the many gorgeous Victorian homes. So hop off the Q at either Beverley or Cortelyou roads and take in an area that's a destination for everything from a night out to a quiet stroll.

Grab a latte at Cafe Madeline

Many commuters pop into the bodega conveniently located
Photo Credit: Dana Reszutek

Many commuters pop into the bodega conveniently located next to the Cortelyou Q train for morning coffee, but Cafe Madeline, across the street at 1603 Cortelyou Rd., has a bit more to offer than a quick cup of coffee. The stylish cafe, easy to spot with its bright yellow awning, gives Ditmas Park locals a place to find a seat and get work done during the day. Drawing a crowd until the evening hours, you'll spot people using the cafe as their personal office space thanks to the ample seating offered in a seemingly narrow spot.

Cafe Madeline boasts quality espresso beverages, smoothies and plenty of food options -- from omelets and poached eggs for breakfast and brunch to burgers and sandwiches for lunch. Try the white matcha latte for a unique, caffeinated morning drink.

Admire the neighborhood's Victorian homes

Toto, I don't think we're in Brooklyn anymore.
Photo Credit: Dana Reszutek

Toto, I don't think we're in Brooklyn anymore.

For anyone who didn't grow up in the city, the residential streets of Ditmas Park will bring you straight back to the suburbs -- in a good way. One of the best activities in Ditmas Park is a simple stroll. Ditmas has streets and streets of Victorian homes that seem plucked from a suburban picture book -- not exactly what you'd expect in a city neighborhood. Walk along streets between Beverly and Cortelyou roads, including Argyle, Marlborough and Rugby roads, to mentally escape the city for an hour or so.

Bite into a Brooklyn bagel at Catskills

New York City doesn't exactly have a bagel
Photo Credit: Dana Reszutek

New York City doesn't exactly have a bagel shortage, but it's always a great idea to check out a neighborhood's favorite spot. After all, isn't the quest for the city's best bagel a never-ending one?

The popular option for lox and a schmear in Ditmas is Catskills Bagel Co., at 1416 Cortelyou Rd. The eatery offers a nice amount of seating and reasonably priced bagels -- $3 for a bagel with cream cheese. Not in the mood for a bagel? Catskills also has a solid selection of omelets, pancakes and other breakfast options.

Explore a book sale or farmers market

There's a reason Ditmas Park is filled with
Photo Credit: Dana Reszutek

There's a reason Ditmas Park is filled with young families and residents who have been there for generations -- community is everything in this neighborhood.

If you happen to head to Ditmas on a Sunday, head to the weekly Cortelyou Greenmarket which offers fresh, local produce, meat, poultry and more.

And on some days, you may spot a table filled with books. A branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, located on the corner of Cortelyou and Argyle roads, sometimes offers pay-as-you-wish book sales out front. Sample score: a book giveaway paired with live music, courtesy of local jazz musicians who played for the crowd.

Soothe your soul at Sacred Vibes Apothecary

Nothing's quite as fascinating as apothecaries (as least
Photo Credit: Jillian Branchaud

Nothing's quite as fascinating as apothecaries (as least to all those Potterheads out there), and Sacred Vibes, at 376 Argyle Rd., is no exception. The small shop sells herbal remedies for all ailments -- from heartache to headache -- in the form of teas, tonics and beyond. Buy a bundle of sage to calm your living environment, stock up on tea to relieve stress or simply explore the shelves filled with ingredients you've probably never heard of.

Fun fact: Sacred Vibes is where HBO's "High Maintenance" creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld purchased faux marijuana for the show. According to a GQ interview, the actors used a smoking blend of rosehips and mullein, which itself is said to have a calming effect. Sinclair and Blichfeld also used to live in Ditmas Park, and shot an episode of "High Maintenance" in the neighborhood.

Shop around Brooklyn Artery

Though Ditmas Park isn't the go-to spot to
Photo Credit: Jillian Branchaud

Though Ditmas Park isn't the go-to spot to find your next wardrobe, the neighborhood is home to a variety of unique boutiques and shops that offer local goods.

A standout is Brooklyn Artery, 1021 Cortelyou Rd., which sells everything Brooklyn. It prides itself on offering fair trade and mostly locally made goods, making it a go-to for finding small gifts for basically anyone on your list.

Pair a glass of wine with Spanish tapas at Manchego

Manchego, at 1502 Cortelyou Rd., offers a selection
Photo Credit: Nicole Brown

Manchego, at 1502 Cortelyou Rd., offers a selection of Spanish wines and a variety of tapas, including small vegetable and meat dishes, charcuterie and cheese boards and croquettes.

During happy hour, from 5 to 7 p.m. daily, you can get a selection of tapas and wines for $6 each.

If you're looking for a larger dish, you can go right over to Koko Ramen, which is attached to Manchego, for Japanese cuisine.

Or grab a drink at Sycamore

Grab a drink at the Sycamore, 1118 Cortelyou
Photo Credit: Jillian Branchaud

Grab a drink at the Sycamore, 1118 Cortelyou Rd., and enjoy it outside in the bar's backyard garden.

While the Sycamore had become known for its $10 beer-and-bouquet specials, the flower shop attached to the bar is currently vacant. The owners say they are looking for a new flower shop to open up in the space.

Insider tips

Ditmas Park may not be known for its
Photo Credit: Jillian Branchaud

Ditmas Park may not be known for its music scene, but there are plenty of venues that regularly host live performances. Instead of heading all the way to Williamsburg, Greenpoint or Manhattan for live shows, Bar Chord, 1008 Cortelyou Rd., has a local artist or band playing a short gig every weekend. Stop by for a quick drink or sit and relax to enjoy music -- without a cover charge.


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