Every time I hear the crunch of leaves on the ground, I start dreaming about Autumn in New York again. Strolls through Central Park, walks on the bridges, and crisply popped trench coat collars. That’s Manhattan for you. However, if you want a slightly different experience, Brooklyn is where it’s at. And instead of me telling you where the best spots are, I am going leave you in the hands of my trustworthy friend Julian. Not only is he one of my oldest friends, but he is also one of the few people who taught me how to cook. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Though Julian has recently embarked on a wonderful career teaching college kids how to think critically in Pittsburg, he still keeps a big chunk of his heart in his beloved Brooklyn. Here’s his take on the city.
Name: Julian Gill-Peterson
Occupation: I am an Assistant Professor of English and Children’s Literature at the University of Pittsburgh.
Hometown: I grew up in Vancouver, BC, just like the one and only Annie Chu (although we didn’t know one another then).
Current City: I split my time between Brooklyn, NY and Pittsburg, PA.
Best Thing about New York City: New York has everything you could ever want (and more), all on 24-hour demand, no less. That doesn’t only mean the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, though. When I say ‘everything,’ I’m including my quiet, tree-lined corner of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, complete with Victorian brownstone buildings, Prospect Park (designed by the same folks as Central Park, but everyone knows it’s better), and more cute coffee shops and foodie destinations than you can shake a fist at. Plus, with a 24-hour subway system, who says you can’t have Manhattan and Brooklyn in the same day? Or night? Or crack of dawn?
Top 5 Places to Eat in Brooklyn
1. Flatbush Farm (Flatbush/Park Slope). I noticed that the DC local page takes a swipe at NYC over brunch. Well, consider this place my rebuttal. Flatbush Farm does farm to table, local, and seasonal plates with a well earned reputation. But their brunch will really knock your socks off. Remember, the menu is seasonal, but if it’s available, I adore the Reuben ($14), and I also demand that you get a side of cheddar chipotle grits for the table ($6). Oh, and did I mention that this place also has an excellent adjoining bar? Chu on that, DC. It’s also down the street from the new Barclay’s Center, if you are in town to see a concert or a Nets game.
2. Gueros (Crown Heights). You need these tacos and you need these margaritas. Trust me. This Austin style joint is actually addictive; my friends and I regularly lie to one other about how often we secretly go, out of embarrassment. Whatever you do, try the fried avocado and jalapeño taco ($4) for something different. The nachos ($8), with a gourmet queso and lots of fresh salsa and avocado, are also a fitting meal, at least if you don’t tell anyone afterwards.
3. Pies n’ Thighs (Williamsburg). I used to be a vegan. A vegan, people! But one bite of fried chicken and I forget that entire episode in my life. This Williamsburg classic serves the kind of comfort food that will crush the biggest frown, along with delicious drinks of alcoholic and non-alcoholic persuasions. Chicken and Waffles are an iconic choice ($13), but personally I can’t stop it with the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($12), which gives you the signature bird with bacon, homemade ranch dressing, and avocado.
4. Brucie (Cobble Hill). This Cobble Hill hideaway is beyond underrated. The menu is simple, smart, seasonal Italian fare, but the point is that it is prepared with such care and high octane ingredients that you will have to put down your fork to exclaim out loud, “This meatball is outrageous, I’m mad at how good it is!” (I said that about the pork, veal and beef Meatball Parmigiana, $14). A side of potatoes with garlic aioli and pecorino will leave you speechless. Oh, and their Bloody Mary? Hands-down the best out there.
5. Silver Rice (Crown Heights). I have very high expectations for sushi and Japanese fare, having grown up in Vancouver, but the team here does everything with finesse, flare, and the rice itself (try the flax seed infused version) is the real star of this Franklin Avenue hotspot. Tips: grab a Silver Rice Cup, a coffee cup filled with rice and topped with fish, veggies and other goodies ($5.95-$6.50). Then grab a $5 beer. Sit on the patio. Enjoy.