Almost every corner along the stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue that runs through Prospect Heights is home to an eatery or drinkery of note. Here are our tips for how to take advantage of one of the most restaurant-and-bar-dense blocks in Brooklyn.
Friends (or Parents) in Town
If you want to show off Prospect Heights to visitors (they can stay at the brownstone B&B, The Sofia Inn, just off Vanderbilt on Park), head to one of the neighborhood’s most distinguished newcomers, The Vanderbilt.
Satisfy your adventurous palate at this sophisticated seasonal-foods eatery. It’s a pretty meaty menu—house-made charcuterie, sweetbreads, and crispy pork belly are all featured—but vegetarians can take solace in the awesome wine/beer/cocktail selection. Or, come to the excellent brunch, where the Bloody Marys are strong and the options run deep. 570 Vanderbilt Ave. (at Bergen), 718-623-0570 -Lisa Butterworth
Bike Ride Break
Whether you’ve been riding (or jogging) in Prospect Park, or are on your way back from a ride to the Rockaways or Coney Island, tacos are definitely a good reward for all that pedaling. Try them at Pequena.
The fish tacos are the bomb at the new outpost of this Fort Greene Mexican joint. Nosh chips and guac inside the loud, colorful space or grab a margarita and people-watch at one of the sidewalk tables out front. 601 Vanderbilt Ave. (at Bergen), 718-230-5170 -L.B.
Or, check out Maya Taqueria, just up the street. The super-friendly staff serves up tasty California-style burritos, tacos, quesadillas and the rare Brooklyn chimichanga. But oddly, there’s no pork here. 673 Vanderbilt, (between Prospect Pl. & St. Marks) 718-638-6393 -BB
If soccer is your game, and you’re looking for an unpretentious place to watch it, Woodwork may just be your new haunt.
Woodwork opened nine months ago, and is as its signage suggests, it’s the kind of bar where “the house wine is shots.” Have you heard of shots?” If not, you should familiarize yourself before heading to this Prospect Heights sports bar where the sport of choice is soccer, or football for the rest of the world. Three flat screens surround the bar at Woodwork, which opens early–before 8 a.m. on game days–and serves an array of beers as equally diverse as the teams to which its televisions are typically tuned. And those for whom football will forever involve first downs and field goals should fear not. Woodwork switches some of its screens to (American) football on Sunday nights. 583 Vanderbilt Ave. (between Pacific & Dean), 718-857-5777 -Jordan Galloway
Lunch in the Park
Sometimes you want to take your snacks to go, and Eton makes for an easy, Asian-influenced picnic. (Plus, their dumplings make a perfect one-hand meal for kids.) Walk around the corner to Underhill playground, or pack them up for a bike ride to Prospect Park.
This tiny dumpling, noodle, and pork bun spot just opened a few weeks ago and the space is still working out the kinks in terms of work flow and service. But it stands to be every bit as popular as the original Eton in Carroll Gardens. The pork sliders (really just pork buns) are meaty, filing and delicious. The dumplings are hit or miss–our chicken dumplings were juicy and well seasoned, and the veggie are some of the best around, but the pork and beef dumplings were just so-so. And vegetarians take heart–there are tons of meat-free options on this menu. 635 Vanderbilt Ave. (between St. Marks & Prospect Pl.), 347-787-4335 -BB
After Work Unwind
You can never have too many happy hour spots in your pocket, and Vanderbilt offers a few gems.
Soda, a totally unpretentious, no-frills bar, boasts what might be Brooklyn’s most epic happy hour: every day from noon to 7pm they offer $3 drafts and $5 well drinks. Luckily, they serve decent bar food like burgers, fries, and fish and chips so you’ll still be able to walk yourself out. 629 Vanderbilt Ave. (at St. Marks), 718-230-8393 -L.B.
At Cornelius, the decor is dark, the light is dim, and in addition to a full menu, they serve $1 Long Island Blue Point oysters at happy hour: 5-7pm and 10pm till close on weekdays, and ALL DAY Mondays. You can sample up to five other varieties from the West and East Coast, including the popular Fishers Islands, from CT; and California Kumamotos, each $3-$3.50. 565 Vanderbilt Avenue (corner of Pacific Street), 718-398-6662 -Katya Schapiro
As with bars, sometimes you need to freshen your brunch routine. Le Gamin is a good place to start.
This warm French café does a brisk brunch business but the authentic crepes, bowl-sized café au laits, and delicious omelets are worth the wait. 556 Vanderbilt Ave. (at Dean), 718-789-5171 -L.B.
Or try Beast, and dig into a stellar burger or their famous chorizo hash, and sit on the sidewalk during the last of the warm weather. The restaurant also serves dinner and snacks alongside its fairly extensive wine list. 638 Bergen (at Vanderbilt), 718-399-6855 -BB
While weekend brunch is ubiquitous, it’s not always easy to find a Brooklyn spot for a breakfast meeting, or just a weekday morning out on the town. Enter Milk Bar.
Friendly Aussie owners serve up simple, tasty fare at this corner café, like Counter Culture cappuccinos, eggs and ham on toast, and chicken salad sandwiches. Reclaimed wood benches and tables give the modern space a rustic element. 620 Vanderbilt Ave. (at Prospect Pl.), 718-230-0844 -L.B.
Need a little something sweet for yourself or a special treat for a friend? Stop in at Joyce Bakeshop.
Each and every treat in the glass case at Joyce is a sweet little slice of heaven. From chocolate chip brioche and croissants filled with strawberry jam to French macarons and red velvet cupcakes, the fact that they have a handful of tables for lounging and Gorilla coffee brewing is simply icing on the cake. 646 Vanderbilt Ave. (at Park Pl.), 718-623-7470 -L.B.
If you need to kiss and make up, or want to get to know each other better, Weather Up is a perfect place to get cozy over drinks.
This cozy, low-lit bar serves up expertly crafted cocktails—often by mustachioed men—in a classy, speakeasy-style environment. Enjoy the charming patio out back while the weather still permits. 589 Vanderbilt Ave (at Dean) -L.B.
Just Plain Weird
A bit more like a trip to the Alamo than a typical Brooklyn bar experience, Branded Saloon will provide plenty of boozy novelty when you’re in the mood for cheeseball fun.
If Branded Saloon ever implemented a dress code, you better believe spurs would be required or at least strongly suggested. Patrons can sip on a wide spectrum of spirits at the bar while sitting under the yellow glow of lantern light from the two wagon-wheel chandeliers overhead, or beseech the bartenders to tell them if the longhorns looking out from behind the bar are the real deal or just knockoffs. It wouldn’t be a saloon if there wasn’t a stage situated in the back beside a stand up piano where the animal motif continues in the form of antler chandeliers. In other words, Branded Saloon is the kind of place where Wyatt Earp would feel right at home. 603 Vanderbilt Ave. (between St. Marks & Bergen) -Jordan Galloway