Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn: Eats, Sweets, And Other Important Deets
I have been putting "start writing neighborhood guides" on my to-do list ever since the sun starting making its presence known in May. New York neighborhoods are the epitome of diverse. Each neighborhood's vibe is different than the last, with a unique group of humans who call it home. Sometimes, all it takes is walking over one block to enter an entirely different world. Which is why I thought it would be fun to start piecing together neighborhood guides -- not only to keep a list of my "musts" for each area for myself, but to avoid writing out a new list every time someone comes to town.
It only makes sense for my first neighborhood guide to be Bed-Stuy, the little corner of Brooklyn I've called home for the last year.
As I was getting ready to move, I found myself missing my neighborhood favorites before I even left! How weird is that...an area that I was fairly indifferent about when I first moved in has now attached itself to my heartstrings. Dangit, Brooklyn, always working your magic.
Before I give you my spots to check out in Bed-Stuy, you need a little history of the neighborhood. Really, that's what makes any New York neighborhood special.
Bed-Stuy is partially named after Peter Stuyvesant, a very important Dutch colonist who founded something or other (he was the last governor of New Netherland) back in the day. I swear, half of New York holds his namesake. The "Bedford" is a long-running New York neighborhood/street name.
Bed-Stuy is a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood in some regard, but neighborhood safety has gradually improved. To give you some context, Jay-Z and Biggie both grew up in Bed-Stuy, but the violence discussed in their lyrics is not nearly as extreme in today's Bed-Stuy. That being said, if you're a first-time visitor looking for a place to stay while you're touring the city, Bed-Stuy may not be for you.
Anyway, crime rates are SO not the point. Bed-Stuy is lovely and cultured and genuine. It's Brooklyn, for heaven's sake! Just keep your eyes open.
While you're in Bed-Stuy, there are some little gems that you absolutely must indulge in.
First things first, coffee and vegan treats at Stonefruit.
Stonefruit is my most favorite Brooklyn entity. Its little space houses a coffee bar, kitchen, and an entire plant shop! Yes, all the best things behind one door. Not only is the coffee good and the space intensely "Insta-worthy," but the vegan treats are sure to make your taste buds sing, even if you generally avoid food with "vegan" in the name. Try the espresso banana bread, it'll knock your socks off.
Indian food at Bombay Grill is another must. MY OH MY does this hit the very top of my takeout list. Coming from good ole Oregon, Indian food is a concept that was fairly new to me a year ago. Now I'm the biggest fan. Bombay Grill's chicken tikka is homecooked, always fresh, and comes with a naan so soft and fluffy that it may as well be a cloud. I'm drooling. It's so good. SO SO SO good.
Eat as many bagels as possible at Bagel Story.
Bagel Story, apart from Stonefruit, may be the thing that I will miss the most when I move out of Bed-Stuy. It's only been open for a few months now, but with cheap prices and bagels that rival any of Manhattan's "best bagel" options, Bagel Story is sure to continue to thrive in Bed-Stuy. Remembering a time before Bagel Story is difficult. Sure, we've got cafes and coffee shops, but we didn't previously have "THE bagel spot" that we needed. Now we do, and with a kind staff who will soon have your order memorized, good drip coffee, and bagels served with a generous dose of cream cheese, Bagel Story will evolve from the neighborhood spot to your spot in only a couple of visits.
Chow down on truffle fries at Home Frite.
I first discovered Home Frite at Smorgasburg two summers ago. The lemon garlic aioli on truffle fries left a permanent mark on my soul, and a were key players in adding Smorgasburg to my "Best New York Eats" list and when I realized the flagship restaurant was in my neighborhood, I squealed with delight!
Grab drinks at Doris; the bar with the yellow door, next to Family Dollar.
Is that description not the most amazing one you've heard? I went to Doris with my roommates for my birthday, right after we'd moved into our little Brooklyn box of an apartment and we were cracking up. Doris is barely marked, its bright yellow door the only distinguishable factor, sitting next to Family Dollar. I love how Brooklyn it is. Doris serves grilled cheese sandwiches, has a cute little patio area, and is a super hip, super welcoming atmosphere, whether you're looking for a night out or simple drinks with friends. OH, and the best part? Since it's a Brooklyn bar, you don't need to dress up or anything like Manhattan joints would recommend.
Stop by Dough for the best doughnuts of your life.
I never knew I loved doughnuts until I moved to New York. I also didn't know that "real doughnut connoisseurs" mock the spelling "donuts." Whatever, I've now learned and corrected my laughable ways. Dough has been serving up doughnuts to New York for a while now, but there's really something special about grabbing a morning pastry from the little shop that started it all. My favorite is the Café au Lait, a yeast doughnut topped with a coffee cake crumble and maple glaze.
Kayla and I connected on Instagram as Brooklyn bloggers, and if there's anyone I trust on the perfect chicken biscuit, it's her! After she deemed Fancy Nancy’s to be the number one chicken biscuit in the city, I put a date on my calendar and headed over.
Pink interior and a retro diner charm made me wonder how I had missed this treasure! Then, biting into their chicken biscuit sent me over the moon. It’s the perfect blend of soft biscuit, crunchy on the outside & moist on the inside fried chicken, hot sauce, and honey butter. I moaned like a happy cow throughout the entire meal. No wonder this place is only open from 12-3 for brunch...people will make their schedules work for this meal.
Bed-Stuy taught me a lot about myself, people who are drastically different than I am, and how to make it work. That’s what the whole neighborhood is all about. One in three Bed-Stuy residents live below the poverty line, making it the eighth poorest community district in New York City - there are obstacles to overcome! Bed-Stuy understands what it means to carry on, and it shows that every single day.
While I’m all moved out of my little box and settling into my new neighborhood, Bed-Stuy will always be my first New York home.