Williamsburg has reached legendary status amongst hipsters – so much so that every trendy 'hood worldwide is simply in its shadow. And no wonder, replicating Brooklyn's hip, happening vibes just ain't easy. Home to Michelin-starred restaurants, eclectic shops, indie music venues and more, the area is a serious hub for culture and a surefire home for anything and everything that's remotely edgy. But you already know that, so let's get on with VIVA's insider guide to a banging weekend there.
A cab ride from the two closest airports, LaGuardia or JFK, will set you back $40 or so. But, realistically, you're gonna go for Uber, which will be a good $10 cheaper. Newark Airport is more of a trek (like, New Jersey far) and an expensive one at that – fares will be $70+ thanks to tolls.
Once you arrive in Williamsburg, however, you’ll be on your feet most of the time, or on the subway – Manhattan is just a few quick stops away (at least until the L shuts down for repairs in 2019).
Local lingo: 'L-pocalypse', or what locals calls the looming subway closure in the area.
The Usual Suspects
City Reliquary Museum: When it comes to museums, the uptown institutions get most of the love, but the City Reliquary is a suchhh an overlooked gem. The exterior resembles a classic NYC deli, and the inside has some genuinely cool Big Apple antiques and memorabilia – vintage Dodgers’ gear, old subway tokens, the original 2nd Ave deli sign and more. Sorry, MOMA what?
Smorgasburg at East River State Park: No Williamsburg guide would be complete without a mention of this OG outdoor food market. Yep, the lines are long and it gets crazy hot in the summer, but the vendors turn out legit #foodporn eats (don't miss Ramen Burger, trust us). The waterfront view isn't half bad either.
Brooklyn Bowl: Only in Williamsburg can "fancy" be used to describe bowling, but that’s exactly what Brooklyn Bowl is – a late night, carnival-inspired alley full of plush couches, a full bar, live tunes and orgasmic eats from Blue Ribbon (hint: have the fried chicken).
The Shops at 240 Kent Avenue: When you’re done shopping the main drag of Bedford Avenue, head over to this waterfront-adjacent mini mall, where you can score chic housewares, fashion and accessories. Some even have that coveted 'Made in Brooklyn' stamp of approval – super important for your authentic (read: hipster) vibes.
Local lingo: 'Artisanal', an overused but accurate description of goods made in the 'hood.
Devocion: Part roastery, part café, this Colombian export takes its java mega seriously. Beans are shipped in on the regs from its home country, making for drool-worthy brews. The sprawling shop, with its living plant wall and atrium ceiling, is ideal for updating the Snapchat story.
Parlor Coffee: This is about as Brooklyn as it gets – it started as an espresso bar in the back of a Williamsburg barbershop and even made a cameo in Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show Master of None. Follow in the Emmy-winning comedian's footsteps and order the cortado.
Cafe Mogador: The brunch hotspot is a local fave for many reasons. It’s housed in a beautiful sunlit room, the weekend prix-fixe is a bloody good deal and the Moroccan-influenced eats (like eggs baked in spicy tomato sauce) are always a hit.
Reynard at the Wythe: Like the hotel it’s located inside, Reynard is the definition of industrial chic: exposed brick walls, Edison light bulbs and farm-to-table cooking courtesy of super well-known restauranter Andrew Tarlow. Try the cast-iron pancakes and you can die happy.
OddFellows Ice Cream Co.: Despite its retro decor, this ain’t your grandma’s ice cream shop. Sweets guru Sam Mason churns out modern creative flavors (miso cherry, chorizo caramel swirl) that go into housemade waffle cones, over-the-top sundaes and warm brioche ice cream sammies. Mmm.
Butler Bakeshop: The new café from Michelin-starred pastry chef Ryan Butler is chockablock full of dreamy pick-me-ups – think blueberry crumb cake infused with yuzu, and chamomile and dark chocolate brownies finished with black sesame cream. To drink: Intelligentsia coffee poured into Insta-friendly pink cups.
Delaware and Hudson: This cozy new American resto has a four-course prix-fixe menu highlighting specialties of the mid-Atlantic states. Sound boring? It's actually really far from it. The tavern turns out the tastiest pub grub around, from Pennsylvania Dutch chicken pot pie to sirloin cheesesteak.
Lilia: Bring on the carbs, because this place is only fit for a cheat day. Chef Missy Robbins shows off her pasta prowess at the garage-turned-eatery. In addition to the agnolotti filled with sheep milk cheese, her cacio e pepe fritters and veal steak are must-orders.
Local lingo: 'Reclaimed', AKA most furniture and decor found in restaurants and bars around these parts.
Battery Harris: Thanks to Battery Harris’ beachy vibes, you’ll quickly forget that the Caribbean-themed bar is tucked right by a bustling highway. The food and drink all play up the tiki theme – kick off any night with jerk chicken sandwiches and a frozen Dark 'N' Stormys... or five.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten: Hungry for beers and brats? Duhh, aren't we all? This boisterous Hungarian brew hall is the best place for it. So, grab a seat at one of the communal picnic tables and choose from a wide selection of rotating European suds and sausages.
Local Watering Holes
The Four Horsemen: New York has no shortage of celeb-owned eateries, but not all of them are as damn fine as this minimalist wine bar from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. Here, wine doesn't have to be a means to an end (and by end, we mean getting wasted), it's insane in its own right thanks to the friendly somms and variety of vinos.
Post Office: Armed with more than 100 kinds of liquid gold, this rustic bar is a whiskey lover’s dream. Drink the spirit on the rocks or in a well-crafted cocktail, then line your stomach with more with upscale snacks like deviled eggs, a bacon grilled cheese sandwich or steak tartare. Fancy schmancy.
Let Your Hair Down
Baby’s All Right: A restaurant, bar and stage rolled up into one, Baby’s All Right is a roarin' late-night destination for music lovers with eclectic tastes. The owners book a little of everything (bluegrass, electronica etc.) and whichever up-and-coming act is playing, a night here is only ever a good idea.
Output: If techno is your jam, then make sure you have a night sorted for getting down n' dirty at Output. Not only is there an all-star DJ line-up, there’s also a rooftop deck and it’s conveniently located next to the Wythe.
Local lingo: 'Handcrafted', an adjective you’ll hear bounced around a LOT when it comes to drinks.
Dream Airbnb: Luxury Duplex
There’s obvs no shortage of luxe lofts for rent, but with soaring 16-foot ceilings and two spacious rooms, this sunny duplex is no pint-sized Brooklyn apartment. It’s just two blocks from Bedford Avenue and even comes with access to a rooftop deck.
Hotel Life: The William Vale
Buzzy rooftop pool? Check. Striking views of Manhattan? Check. James Beard-nominated chef? Check. The artsy 23-story hotel is a vacationer’s playground, boasting beaut rooms, a swanky lounge (Westlight), a burger and ice cream-slinging Airstream (Mister Dips) and divine Southern Italian restaurant.
Local lingo: 'McCondos', the nickname for the tall glassy buildings going up in the area.