With so many things to do in Manhattan, I don’t get to Brooklyn as often as I would like. So when my son Gavin suggested a guy’s night out exploring the hipster heaven of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I jumped at the chance. So did Kyle, who is 21, home from college and excited to use his legal ID.
We began our adventure by meeting my old friend and former boss, Stephen Roberson, for lunch at Junior’s Restaurant, a Brooklyn institution, world famous for their New York Style cheesecake, which you can order online . It was great catching up with Stephen, who has been working as a community organizer in New York and beyond for over 45 years, with so many accomplishments, including the construction of almost 5,000 Nehemiah Homes.
After lunch we spent a few hours at the Brooklyn Museum, enjoying their fine collection, before heading to Williamsburg for the real stars of our visit – the food and music.
Our night began with drinks and and early show at Pete’s Candy Store , a free venue that books mostly unknown and unsigned bands 7 days a week, many of which have gone on to greater recognition, including: Nora Jones, Sufjan Stevens, Sara Jarosz and Sharon Van Etten, to name a few. The place has a great vib and is worth a visit.
Dinner followed at Beco , a Brazilian bar and eatery that takes its inspiration from the traditional botecos of Sao Paulo – local neighborhood bars known for friendly atmosphere, lively music and light fare. I enjoyed Freijoda , a black bean stew with beef or pork, that is considered the national dish in Brazil. We washed it down with a pitcher of Caipirinha , and our evening was off to a good start.
Our first stop after dinner was the Knitting Factory , a venue that has showcased new and established bands since the the late 1980s, with performances every night of the week. We saw several bands, from heavy metal to an Allman Brothers style jam band, with new bands performing every hour as part of the Knitting Factory’s 8th annual winter festival that was taking place Saturday night.
But when you are in Williamsburg, you must keep moving. There are just too many places to see and our next stop was Skinny Dennis , one of Gavin’s favorite bars.
Skinny Dennis is a divvy, honky tonk offering live music 7 days a week. Eugene Chrysler and his band played long into the night, pumping out rockabilly classics mixed with songs from his 2017 album, Hillbilly Fun Park. The signature drink at Skinny Dennis is a coffee slushie mixed with whiskey and named Willie’s Frozen Coffee in honor of Willy Nelson, who would undoubtedly approve. It’s a really good drink that sneaks up on you.
Thankfully, we had made arrangements to stay at the nearby Hotel Le Jolie , so no driving was involved. We really enjoyed our stay at the Le Jolie. The rooms are nice, the staff is friendly and free parking and free breakfast make this place a great deal.
Thankfully, I was just fine the next morning. No hangover at all. We ended our 24 hours in Brooklyn with a walk to East River State Park , enjoying the river views followed by shopping along Bedford Street, with a lots of creative energy and independent shops. Of course, no visit to Brooklyn would be complete without a reading of Walt Whitman’s classic, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry which I did over breakfast.
So if you planning a night out in Williamsburg, don’t wait. There are hundreds of place to go. Here are some web sites to help you plan your visit: Free Williamsburg , Visiting Brooklyn and Shop Brooklyn.