An industrial area filled with pockets of cultural, culinary, and artistic beauty as well as kitsch, Red Hook has much to offer the intrepid explorer. Secluded from the rest of Brooklyn by an expressway on one side and waterfront on the other, it’s developed a supportive community of artists and entrepreneurs. Because of its location, this unique pocket of Brooklyn still has a ways to go before it becomes overrun and gentrified, like other parts of the borough.
Whether you get there by water taxi (yes, they have that in NY!), bus, or subway (a fairly long walk from the closest stop—but hey, we’re all about walking!), a treat is a great way to begin your urban discovery. Reward yourself first thing with an unlikely foodie find, Steve’s Key Lime Pie, served straight up, or as a tart, or popsicle style, dipped in chocolate and served on a stick (“the swingle”). While far removed from the Florida keys, Steve’s is authentic as they come and has been a neighborhood staple for over a decade. Whatever lime saturated goodness you chose can be enjoyed on a picnic table outside, or a short walk to Valentino pier.
After recovering from your sugar high, head over to the Red Hook Winery at the Liberty warehouse–a historic ship yards, now boasting event halls and artist workspaces. With tours and tastings ($15 bucks to try 4 wines), this rustic place makes a great stop to get a little tipsy and see the rest of the neighborhood through rosé hued glasses!
If all those wine samples made you a bit tipsy, walk a short ways and vedge-out at the Pier 44 Waterfront Garden, a spot of unexpected beauty amidst the concrete. There you can take in the views of the statue of liberty and lower Manhattan. There are plenty of benches and it’s rarely too busy.
After you’ve recovered sufficient energy, walk down Van Brunt Street on the foodie route, passing by The Good Fork, Fort Defiance, and Baked, on your way to Pioneer Works, an amazing 25,000-square-foot high ceilinged, manufacturing warehouse, which is part gallery, part educational and performance space. Entry is free and tours are available upon request. If you’re still in the mood for greenery, make sure to check out their beautiful garden.
By now, you’ve seen enough of the neighborhood to want a proper meal. If you feel like continuing the seaside theme, grab some grub at Red Hook Lobster Pond, where fresh lobsters and seafood are imported straight from Maine. Live Lobster tanks and indoor picnic style dining add to the nautical experience. For over the top indulgence, try the “Lobster Mac and Cheese”. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of walking left to burn those calories on your way home—as we said, Red Hook is in a world of its own.
The writer is a native Brooklynite and the Co-Founder of Sidekix – a smart walking navigation app.