Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens was named after Revolutionary War veteran Charles Carroll, a guy whose name may sound familiar — he was portrayed in National Treasure as the last living signatory of the Declaration of Independence (just pretend you watched that movie). But before then, the neighborhood just south of Cobble Hill used to be considered a part of Red Hook, until the Brooklyn Queens Expressway cut the northern side off. The area has since seen waves of immigration — which is obvious in the recommendations below — although it’s now mostly known for its prominent Italian-American community.
Is Carroll Gardens still jealous of Red Hook’s waterfront? Naw, it’s got the Gowanus!
What to Do:
Bookcourt (163 Court St.)
I used to be one of the kids in the strollers in this store, which is a neighborhood staple and the epitome of what an independent book store should be. They also host several big names, and if you go enough, you’re sure to run into some author that will leave you panting.
New York City Transit Museum (Boerum Pl. & Schermerhorn St.)
As much as I loathe the thought of giving the MTA more money, I must admit that the Transit Museum is pretty cool. What can I say? I like old train cars. And trolleys. And buses. Although seeing that a ride used to cost a nickel might make you want to walk home (totally possible over the Brooklyn Bridge). Admission is a surprisingly reasonable $6, and it’s open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Tuesday – Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Sahadi’s Importing Company (187 Atlantic Ave.)
Sahadi’s is a to-do and a to-eat! An institution, this Lebanese grocery (and so much more) ended up on Atlantic mostly by chance. Olive bar, cheese bar, cheap falafel, tons of pita and a million other things covered with za’aatar. Also, their nuts and dried fruit are even cheaper — and better — than Trader Joe’s.
Where to Party — There’s nightlife in Brooklyn outside of Bushwick/Greenpoint/Bed-Stuy/Williamsburg? The scene may be a little older, but this neighborhood is a nice antidote to a rager:
Brooklyn Social (335 Smith St.)
Can I say “homey”? Okay, fine, “charming then with an old world feel.”
Zombie hut (273 Smith St.) It’s a tiki bar. ‘Nuff said? Nuff said.
Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St.)
Ironic much? Isn’t there some hipster breaking index where the irony becomes so thick that you’re not included in the self mocking? Come quick, they close sometime in Autumn and there’s a chili cook off on Sunday.
Where to Shop — Smith Street is flanked with cute little boutiques, so if you feel like dropping some Benjamins (him and Carroll were buds), here’s where to do it:
Soula (185 Smith St.)
Get some shoes. Because you can never have enough.
Flight 001 (132 Smith St.)
Bags and luggage and travel stuff — even the retro Pan-Am type! Sleep masks, as many neck pillows (and better designed ones) as those airport stores and an excellent selection of to-go boardgames!
Bird (220 Smith St.)
Home to some international, national and local designers, from the high-end to the affordable.
Dear Fieldbinder (198 Smith St.)
Ted Baker! Rachel Mara! And also some local designers.
Where to Eat:
Bar Tabac (128 Smith St.)
Francophiles delight. Find all french cliches at Bar Tabac in all their delicious glory.
Brooklyn Farmacy (513 Henry St.)
You bet that they make their egg creams with Fox’s! A trendy version of Brooklyn classics.
One Girl Cookies (68 Dean St.)
This includes refined new classics like the Danielle, a spiced chocolate cookie with chopped pistachios. Worth navigating through strollers? Yes.
Mazzola Bakery (192 Union St.)
It’s a little out of the way, but it’s loved in the area and gives a lovely little glimpse as to what the neigborhood used to look like.
F. Monteleone Bakery (355 Court St. )
Proving that the Italian blood still flows strong. Baguettes, cheesecake, napoleons, biscotti and lard bread!
The Grocery (288 Smith St.)
Come before their garden closes! And bring your parents, it’s kind of expensive.
Frankies 457 Spuntino’s (457 Court St.)
Hyper-popular Italian food, even though it’s technically in Cobble Hill. It’s where you want to be after a long day of walking around.
Blue Marble (196 Court St.)
Never too cold for ice cream, or for baked goods from Blue Sky and Baked. And you can lick away with a safe conscience, all of their milk is sourced from New York State farmers. Happy cows = happy ice cream?