Last week, we drove to Brooklyn to visit Mary, Brian and Saltie (our grand-grayhound). Both Mary and Brian are experts at showing us sides of NYC that most visitors don't get to experience.
This time around, we scouted out the edges of town, from the southern-most tip of Brooklyn to the northern-most stop on the A Line in Upper Manhatten. We spent part of a day on a brand new island off the west side of mid-town NYC and had dinners in Red Hook and Bay Ridge -- both neighborhoods on the western edge of Brooklyn.
Here's a closer look at our adventures on the edges.
Mary and Brian live in Red Hook, a waterfront neighborhood set on a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn. Their neighborhood is pretty isolated with no direct subway stops, but you can reach the area by ferry. It may be a bit remote, but that doesn't mean that little is going on -- quite the contrary. It has a really great food, arts and culture scene. Plus, you can usually find a unmetered parking space!
Our first stop after arriving at their loft apartment was to walk across the street to the legendary Defontes Sandwich Shop where we ordered three hero sandwiches, enough to share among the four of us, with leftovers. The woman behind the counter knew Mary, which seemed to happen often as we strolled their neighborhood. But, by many accounts, Red Hook's most popular citizen is their dog, Saltie. Everyone seems to know her and stops to say "Hi."
After lunch we took a stroll up Van Brunt Street, Red Hook's "Main Street," to get the scoop on Ample Hills Creamery, voted the best Ice Cream in America. That evening, we stopped in at the newly opened Strong Rope waterfront brewery. Not only were the beers fantastic, the view was too. From its warehouse taproom, we could see Lady Liberty herself.
From there, it was on to Red Hook Tavern for a delightful alfresco dinner, featuring one of the best cheeseburgers ever. (Just don't ask Ed how much it cost!)
The last night of our visit, we returned to Red Hook for Thai food, eating in the back garden of Somtum Der (Red Hook). Still thinking about the Spicy Pad Thai with Crab...
The Little Island
It was hot in New York; I'm talking in the high 90s with "feels like" temperatures of over 100 degrees. But the high temperatures didn't stop us for exploring the edges of the city. On Saturday morning, we met friends Doreen and Lewis for coffee in Park Slope and then headed south, all the way to the southern-most tip of Brooklyn -- to the old-school amusement park and boardwalk of Coney Island.
Ed had always wanted to go there; me, I had never really thought much about it, but I'm glad we went. The boardwalk was clean and wide, separating the amusement park from the Atlantic beach. Mary and Brian rode the Cyclone, the second steepest wooden roller coaster in the world, while Ed and I watched and held on to Saltie's leash.
And, of course, we had to try a world-famous Nathan's hot dog...
Saturday evening we drove to Bay Ridge, a residential neighborhood in the southwest corner of Brooklyn, meeting friends Alena and Matt and their 18-month-old daughter, Dom. We had met newborn Dom when we were last in Brooklyn; now, she is a walking, talking, beautiful toddler. We dined at Tanoreen, a Mediterranean-Middle Eastern restaurant. Afterwards. we strolled the pedestrian-only street with a music festival happening.