Red Hook Day Trip


The Ikea shuttle and ferry may have made Red Hook easier to get to, but it still feels cut off from the city, in the best possible way. These are our favorite nooks and crannies, Google-mapped here and organized on the hour for one (or more) ambitious days.

11 AM: Get a foot-long Virginia Ham, egg, potato and mozzarella hero ($9.50) at Defonte‘s (379 Columbia St., 718-625-8052, closed Sun.), touted by Edible Brooklyn as one of the best breakfast sandos in town. Dig in at Coffey Park, just down Dwight St.

Noon: Walk to Red Hook’s best trio of shops: Erie Basin (388 Van Brunt; 718-554-6147), named after the waterway just south of the Hook, where you can find jewelry made of strange materials like burnt beads and Vulcanite (an 1880s-era plastic); Saipua (392 Van Brunt Street; 718-624-2929), which just re-released their popular citronella and lavender dogbone soap; and the eclectic Metal and Thread (398 Van Brunt; 718-414-9651), where milliner Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute unveils her new hat collection Oct. 18, 4-7 pm.

1 PM: At Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies (204 Van Dyke St,; 888-450-5463) on Pier 41, pick up a Swingle — a chocolate covered, frozen key lime tart ($5) — and take it to Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park, where the men fish for stripers and the Red Hook Boaters offer free kayaking through October. Or take Sixpoint Craft Alesfree monthly tour. Email them here>> to reserve a spot in November or December.

2 PM: Get thee to Bay St. and Clinton, home of the Red Hook Vendors through mid-November Sunday, October 26, where $5 will buy you a barbacoa taco with fresh pico de gallo and a watermelon agua fresca at the third truck on Clinton St. Try a papusa from Rafael Soler, a finalist at the upcoming Vendy Awards in Dumbo. Afterward, walk to the Red Hook Community Farm, open Sat., 9-3, through Nov. and 10:30-5 on Oct. 18, when pumpkin carving, local restaurants like Applewood and sustainable experts like Tri-State Bio Diesel converge at the the Red Hook Harvest Festival.

3 PM: At Beard St. between Dwight and Ostego, Ikea’s 6-and-a-half acre Erie Basin Park is dotted with shipyard artifacts and strange walkways. Inside the big box store, dine on Swedish meatballs (kids meals just $1.99!), sparkling lingonberry juice and layered almond cake in the upstairs restaurant, with views of Ms. Liberty. Then continue to 499 Van Brunt to the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition’s Fall Group Show in the Beard St. Warehouse, dating from 1869. At 3pm on weekends they screen shorts, and this weekend The Red Hook Film and Video Festival takes over the screening room 1-5pm Sat. and Sun.

4 PM: Behind Fairway, check out Bob Diamond’s streetcars, which he dreamed of using to connect Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn. Inside, nibble free samples of Fairway’s special blended olive oils, cheeses, chips and salsas.

ralph2.jpg5 PM: In front of Fairway, admire the nautically-decorated 26 Reed St., the social club and garage where Ralph Balzano, brother of Sunny (see below), keeps classic cars like a 1959 El Camino. Stop in LeNell’s (416 Van Brunt; (718-360-0838), which has tastings and classes scheduled through December. A crash course on bitters is this weekend’s lesson plan.

6 PM: At Baked (359 Van Brunt St.; 718-222-0345) take a much needed coffee-and-chocolate-cloud-cookie break, then browse the antique shop Atlantis (351 Van Brunt; 718-858-8816) for an eggshell-blue Herman Miller Greige sideshell chair, rotary dial phones and other 1950s home accessories like hand mixers.

7 PM: At Kentler International Drawing Space (353 Van Brunt; 718-875-2098), see the floral and faunal drawings of Hedya Klein (above), whose solo show opens this Friday.

8 PM: Begin the booze cruise: stop for a drink at Red Hook Bait and Tackle (320 Van Brunt; 718-797-4892), then to the gorgeous, high-ceilinged Botanica (220 Conover St.; 718-797-2297), where they make amazing cocktails like The Hemingway, an exciting concoction of rosemary, elderflower liquor, vodka, and grapefruit juice (food and a downstairs dance club coming soon!). At Tini Wine Bar (414 Van Brunt; 718-855-4206), relax on the white couches with a glass of wine and play a game of scrabble.

9 PM: Cross the street to The Good Fork (391 Van Brunt; 718-643-6646), where the narrow dining room in front feels like the interior of a vintage yacht, and chef Sohui Kim’s “Steak and Eggs” with kimchee rice is now as much a Brooklyn classic as Junior’s cheesecake.

10 PM: If you’re there on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 8pm-4am, have a cold (ok, lukewarm) Bud and hear live bluegrass and jazz at Sunny’s (253 Conover St.; 718-625-8211), in the Balzano family since the 1920s. His abstract artwork is on the walls, along with a painting by his wife, Tone (pronounced “tuna”). Wednesdays through October Smokey Hormel, who played guitar with Johnny Cash and Beck, plays Western Swing at 10.

11 PM: Karaoke at Hope and Anchor (347 Van Brunt; 718-237-0276) Thurs-Sat. (get there by 9 on Thursdays), then have a nightcap on the ever-quiet rooftop of Rocky Sullivan’s (34 Van Dyke St.; 718-246-8060).

Getting there: The Ikea Shuttle bus departs from Court St./Borough Hall and the 4th Ave./9th St. stations every half hour M-F from 1pm-10pm, and every 20 minutes on weekends from 10am-10pm. The ferry from Manhattan’s Pier 11 leaves every 20 minutes from 1-9 on weekdays and 10am-9:40pm weekends (check schedules here>>). At the A/C/F Jay St. stop, take the B61 bus, or take the Court Express car service (718-237-8888) from the F stop at Carroll St. for $7. Call ahead for all store, bar and restaurant hours.

By Nicole and Chrysanthe. All photos by BB except Dog Bone courtesy Saipua, Vendor photo by Adam Kuban, Ikea Park photo by Beachen on Flickr, Streetcar photo by f.trainer on Flickr, Hedya Klein image courtesy Kentler Gallery, Botanica photo by Callalille on Flickr, Sunny’s photo by lightxposr on Flickr.

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