If you’ve never explored the Brooklyn culinary scene, you’re truly missing out. I’ll admit it—prior to adventuring with New York City Urban Adventures on their Neighborhood Eats: Brownstone Brooklyn Tour, I didn’t know much about the history behind the mom-and-pop establishments that have called Brownstone Brooklyn home for decades, or how this borough has evolved into the food mecca that it is today.
But that all changed thanks to an afternoon eating and drinking my way through the borough. Not only is Brooklyn’s Smith and Court streets and the surrounding neighborhoods filled with unique places to indulge and imbibe, including artisanal, locally- and family- owned and off-the-beaten-path stops, but it’s a place where you can stroll on picturesque tree-lined sidewalks, admiring the famous brownstone buildings.
The diversity of what’s offered in this neighborhood is exceptional. We tasted a little bit of everything, filling up on delicious bites and sips as we listened to a plethora of history about the neighborhood from our charismatic guide. From a charming cafe with vintage coffee roasters to artisan cheese and bread shops to the oldest Middle Eastern bakery in NYC and more, this tour didn’t disappoint.
If you’re looking for an afternoon activity that gives you an inside scoop on how the locals live, as well as a wealth of history on Brooklyn neighborhoods and in-depth info on both new and old restaurants, bars, cafes, markets and more, I highly recommend this tour!
For made-in-Brooklyn items, wine, tons of cheese and charcuterie, spirits and unique gifts, make a stop at Stinky Bklyn. This specialty shop is full of smells, hence the name, so let your nose guide you to the tastiness! Don’t leave without trying some of their ham, carved right off the bone to order!
61 Local is a hip spot located in what used to be a carriage house. It offers craft beer, locally sourced food, coffee and comradery, all the while celebrating the producers and purveyors they work with. During the day it’s a popular local spot for people to work at and at night it switches gears and turns into a lively bar. They also host community events.
One Girl Cookies
One Girl Cookies is a lovely bakery that offers a whole bunch of scrumptious treats including their famed whoopie pies, Brooklyn’s original. The bakery itself is too cute, featuring blue walls, patterned wallpaper and a hand painted family tree. They offer tea cookies, six in particular on which the bakery was built upon. My favorite was the Lucia, a shortbread with caramel and chocolate layers. They also bake cakes and cupcakes.
Shelsky’s of Brooklyn
This Jewish deli offers a variety of smoked fish including gravlax, king salmon and sable; bagels; spreads and cream cheeses; knishes and more. The menu of innovative sandwich creations is extensive. Have you ever heard of The Smoked Salmon Sandwich (ruby red wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, butter, red onion) or The Tribute (smoked whitefish salad, horseradish cream cheese, wasabi tobiko)? It’s all at Shelsky’s. I opted for a classic lox, bagel and cream cheese—best I’ve had in NY!
Damascus Bread and Pastry
This old-school Syrian bakery is in a Middle Eastern, Lebanon, Syrian enclave on Atlantic Ave. One step inside and I was floored by the huge variety and the sheer number of brick-oven baked pitas, veggie and meat pies, baklava, bird’s nests (crinkled phyllo dough filled with sticky minced pistachios and honey) and tons of other sweet pastries and cookies that filled the store. Open since 1930, Damascus Bread and Pastry introduced pita bread to America. In other words, the pita originated here (and the Middle East of course). I munched on a staple pie made filled with spinach inside sautéed with onions, lemon juice and olive oil.
Court Pastry Shop
This old-school Sicilian bakery with the words “Italian Specialties-Biscuits-Cakes for All Occasions-Cookies” in Italian flag colors on its front, has been baking classic, handmade cannoli, biscotti, sfogliatelle (clamshell-shaped pastries) seven-layer cookies, macaroons, cakes and other treats since 1948. Plus, Court Pastry Shop has Italian ice in the summer! If you’re in Carroll garden, you can’t pass this establishment up. Literally, how can any sane human walk past a store window full of these baked goodies?
This neighborhood coffee shop has been roasting small batch coffee since 1948. Filled with nostalgia, the scent of roasted coffee and hazelnut, gold canisters of beans and jovial older patrons, the family-ran D’Amico Coffee is a staple in Carroll Gardens.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
This classic soda fountain is a step back in time. Housed in a 1920s apothecary store, this super cute Brooklyn stop features a Bastian Blessing soda fountain, red twirling stills and vintage décor including shelves stocked with old-fashioned drugs, chocolate syrups, and retro jars of maraschino cherries and caramels and other antique items. Stop by Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain for a good ol‘ egg cream, a sundae or a slice of pie.
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For more information on this tour, check out Newyorkcityurbanadventures.com.