Music is Heather Dunsmoor’s first true love–she’s one of two people who book shows for The Bell House and Union Hall, a venue she set her sights on four years ago after a band she was tour managing played a gig there. As soon as the tour ended, she ditched her tree-less street in Williamsburg and moved to leafy Park Slope, and soon she was walking to work at Union Hall, and then The Bell House once it opened.
Secretly Heather is also a multitalent, a skilled, old-school photographer (that’s her Cyclone photo, above) and a self-taught graphic designer. She’s designed concert posters for acts like Björk and Wilco; one is in the book, The Art of Modern Rock, another is hanging in the Red Rocks Amphitheater Museum. (Check out a few of her early ones.) Others you’ve probably seen at The Bell House, since she still makes many of their posters in her spare time. And, random fact, she is the only woman we know who owns multiple hot dog necklaces.
We asked Heather D. to name her five favorite things about Brooklyn because we knew her answers would surprise us. Like, who knew she was an expert in wooden roller coasters?
1) Prime Meats: This is my true happy place. It’s all dark and woody and candle-lit and pretty much all of the boys who work here look like they just stepped off the set of Boardwalk Empire, yet somehow it isn’t the slightest bit pretentious (maybe because its in Brooklyn and not Manhattan—holla!). I honestly think that everything I’ve ever eaten here is the best thing I’ve ever had in my life, so narrowing the menu down to just a few must-try items is really difficult for me, but here’s a good start: First, try the Rubens Cooler. It’s a cocktail with some bourbon, some cucumber, and a dash of pure f*cking magic. It will change your life, and if you end up spending $100 on these alone don’t say I didn’t warn you. Then get a few orders of Landjager and the Sauteed Wild Mushrooms and Poached Egg for the table. Get yourself a steak (you’ve earned it, baby). Any steak here is a winner, but at $27 the steak frites is an incredible deal and you’ll feel like you spent much more. Finish with an order of the warm chocolate cake (I’ve been known to lick the plate and I don’t even like cake), and an Underberg. If you don’t know what an Underberg is, now is the time to try one–you’ll leave feeling amazing, I promise. 465 Court Street at Luquer, Carroll Gardens, (718) 254-0327
2) Blizzards/Snow Days: There’s something magical about a city this size slowing to a crawl, and something equally incredible about watching someone ski down 9th St. When it snows in Brooklyn all 500 people living on your street come out to play like it’s the world’s biggest block party (sort of like the blackout but without all the drama). Plus, who doesn’t love an unexpected mid-week surprise day off of work? I would strongly suggest repressing the urge to curl up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a movie in your living room. These are the days when we should all meet in Long Meadow for a serious snowball fight and I expect to see you there next time around. We can finish the day with mimosas. Best. Day. Ever. For serious.
3) The Coney Island Cyclone: Ok, sure the people-watching on the boardwalk at Coney is worth the trip alone. Plus there’s the Freak Show, Lola’s Boutique, all of the fried foods you should never eat but can’t get enough of, and even a fancy new amusement park (which, after all of that fighting is thankfully even BETTER than Astroland!). Still, I am consistently floored by the amount of people who have been to Coney but have never ridden the Cyclone. As a serious wooden coaster enthusiast, this is my favorite coaster in the country. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s awesome and you’ll never forget it. It’s even got one of the steepest drops found on any wooden coaster in the world, plus it’s an official NYC landmark. Have $5 ready in your pocket so that when your ride comes to an end you can just stay in your seat and negotiate another discounted ride with one of the workers letting people off. Trust me, you’ll want to. 834 Surf Avenue at W. 10th St., (718) 265-2100
4) The Zombie Hut: I tried for years to pretend I didn’t love the Zombie Hut. I would roll my eyes and begrudgingly agree when anyone suggested we go there. I think it was just such an obviously cool place that I hated to admit that I was totally freaking in love with it just like everyone else and I was actually dying for people to suggest we go there. In the end The Zombie Hut won me over big time with the totally tiki decor and bamboo walls, the cheap prices, the adorable backyard, the great happy hour, the free Goldfish crackers, the naked lady swizzle sticks, and oh yeah, the drinks. I even brought my mom here for a mother-daughter Scorpion Bowl (a giant drink in a bowl with about a million liquors and a flame in the middle). There’s more than one drink or shot that you can get on fire here, and who doesn’t love a pyromaniac bartender? But if you’ve never been, forgo the flames, get the Frozen Zombie and prepare for a wild ride. 261 Smith St between DeGraw and Douglass Sts., Carroll Gardens (718) 875-3433
5) Fairway: Yes, the girl who loves nothing more than a rare steak, a drunken snowball fight, a rickety 83-year-old thrill ride, and a flaming bowl of liquor has picked a grocery store as the final Brooklyn fave. I seriously never thought I could love a grocery store like this. Really though, what kind of crazy person goes around professing their love for a grocery store? If you think that way it’s only because you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Fairway. Any single section in this sprawling and extremely well-priced Disneyland of food is really worthy of being its own specialty store. Fruits, meats, cheeses, olives, breads, coffees, kosher, organic, or just some Tide—whatever the eff you want, I promise they have it. They’ve even got a deli in the back with Lobster Rolls that they’re famous for. But the best part of the whole store is hitting up the lesser-known (and almost always empty) back waterfront patio and eating said Lobster Roll while you watch the sun set over the Statue of Liberty. I mean seriously–does your grocery store have a waterfront sunset Statue of Liberty view? I’m gonna go ahead and assume not. Fairway is totally 100% worth the trek to Red Hook (and in the summer you can even hit up the Country Boys Red Hook Taco Cart at the ballfields for a killer Huarache on the way)! 500 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, (718) 694-6868