When it comes to Brooklyn, a borough guide is too broad; each neighborhood brings its own unique style and must-visit destinations to the table. Greenpoint is the end of the line, bordering Williamsburg to the south and Long Island City (Queens) to the north. Benefitting from its proximity to two booming areas but still inconvenient enough to feel a little sleepy and undiscovered, Greenpoint offers a wealth of options beloved by locals and visitors alike, and not a Whole Foods or Apple store in sight. This guide highlights a few of our favorites, but there’s a whole lot more to discover around every corner.
You’ve got a few hotel options in Greenpoint, conveniently all run by the same local hospitality group. Each offers a variation on a familiar brand of upscale Brooklyn comfort, differing in location and history. Housed in a converted factory steps from the Pulaski Bridge (the one that takes you to Queens), the Box House Hotel boasts a rooftop restaurant-slash-event-space with unobstructed views of Manhattan and apartment-style rooms with kitchens and living areas. Travel south down buzzy Franklin Avenue and you’ll come to the Franklin Guest House, a more intimate affair in a prime spot for dining, shopping, and drinking, with amenities including a fitness room and sauna. The Henry Norman is situated in an eclectic and impressively restored 19th-century warehouse deeper into the neighborhood, with private terraces, vintage interior decor, and commissioned works by local artists.
Greenpoint is difficult to get to by subway—you’re at the mercy of the notoriously unreliable G Train and most trips involve at least one transfer—so save yourself the trouble and hitch a scenic ride on the East River Ferry. Boats arrive roughly every fifteen minutes to take you across to Manhattan or down to South Brooklyn, offering onboard snack concessions including beer and wine. We recommend you secure a seat on the top deck and cruise down to Dumbo for some unparalleled views of the bridges and skyline.
Greenpoint is also adjacent to McCarren and McGolrick Parks, each providing ample green space for lounging or exercising. McCarren has a Saturday Farmer’s Market year-round, McGolrick’s is seasonal on Sunday. Be sure to check out the events listings at the Brooklyn Expo Center during your stay as well—the venue regularly hosts trade shows for small businesses & culinary vendors, from the Cheesemongers International to the Hot Sauce Expo, and is always a great place to discover emerging brands and small-batch food producers before they hit the shelves.
If you eat one meal while in Greenpoint, have it at Bernie’s. Serving classic American comfort food on a quiet corner of McCarren Park, Bernie’s is a place to indulge and savor. Nostalgic without trying too hard, the food here is exalted for its simplicity: five plump shrimp stacked on shaved ice with a perfectly spicy cocktail sauce, a wedge salad with a warm slab of thick-cut bacon, and a vinegar chicken so good it has a devoted online fan club. Another spot with a cult following, Chez Ma Tante is named after a famed Montreal Hot Dog shack (the owner is Canadian) and offers a hybrid European style of fare. Country pâté shares the menu with stracciatella and homemade fennel sausage, a unique wine list, and fresh cocktails featuring rhubarb bitters and celery juice. You’ll find one of the best brunches in the neighborhood at Esme—poached eggs on polenta, monster cinnamon rolls, and a killer fried chicken sandwich (to name a few) make it a local favorite. If you’re looking to host a group, look no further than Rule of Thirds, an Izakaya-style Japanese spot with tons of indoor and outdoor space, and a phenomenal prix fixe dinner menu ideal for large parties.
Narrowing down a list of places to drink in Greenpoint is near impossible—the neighborhood is just stacked with bars, most of them good—but a logical place to start is Brooklyn Barge, a floating watering hole anchored in the East River. A no-frills answer to Manhattan’s flashier floating bar scene, Brooklyn Barge offers reasonably priced drinks and ample space to host a larger group. Just inland you’ll find Achilles Heel, a contender for Best Neighborhood Bar in the area. Off the main drag and frequented by locals, it’s especially inviting in the cooler months when they fire up the wood-burning stove and serve mulled cocktails and wines.
For interesting beer options, Torst is your go-to—with 21 draft lines featuring craft brews from around the world (as well as some local favorites, cans, and bottles), you’re bound to find something new and surprising. And no trip to Greenpoint would be complete without a visit to the reigning queen of Franklin Avenue, Ramona. Trendy frozen drinks and inventive house cocktails keep a vibrant clientele partying here til the wee hours, perfect for meeting up with friends and making new ones.
Greenpoint is a bit of a shopping destination, with a growing community of local vendors setting up storefronts along Franklin and Manhattan Avenues. For apparel, check out Alter, a longtime staple for clothing and accessories, stocking indie brands like Banks Journal, Kardo, and Misc. Goods leather passport cases and wallets. Some of the best and most reasonably-priced vintage furniture in the city comes through Renew Finds, a showroom for antiques and framed prints, specializing in mid-century designs and rare posters. Weekday hours are by appointment only, and a lot of their inventory moves quickly on Instagram.
Academy Records sells new and used vinyl alongside merch and vintage music ephemera. They’ve got a knowledgeable staff, an incredible selection, and a robust Discogs offering if you can’t make it during your stay. Need a bottle of wine? Anything you pick up from Dandelion Wine is guaranteed to impress—their staff curates an exceptional offering from small importers and local growers. We recommend the Bloomer Creek “Tanzen Dame” Dry Riesling 2017, a bone-dry favorite from the vineyard at the epicenter of New York’s natural winemaking scene.
Expect more of these cheat sheet style articles to tackling a city, truly aimed for a Hit The Concrete kind of visit to some of the absolute best of the best a skyline has to offer. Happy travels folks.