Brooklyn’s Prospect Park // © 2015 Elizabeth Keegin Colley
Feature image (above): A guestroom at Wythe Hotel // © 2015 Matthew Williams/Wythe Hotel
Though Kristen Gonzalez has West Coast roots, she considers herself a true New Yorker after five years in the Big Apple. And as an assistant designer for bridal and evening clothing line Samantha Sleeper, she has a soft spot for her current locale: Brooklyn, where the fashion scene has its own distinct flavor and where inspiration can be found on every corner.
Since friends and family often jump on cross-country flights to visit, Gonzalez has become quite the expert in parading Brooklyn’s unique blend of culture, style, music, art and food. Following are her insider tips.
From start to finish, an ideal food day is:
Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights for brunch, Dough in Clinton Hill for a post-brunch snack, Xi’an Famous Foods in Greenpoint for lunch and Xixa in Williamsburg for dinner. Top it off with Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights for dessert.
The hottest hotel at the moment is:
Wythe Hotel for spectacular views, an old Williamsburg vibe and a bar with an awesome DJ.
The best places to shop and find style inspiration are:
People in Brooklyn love thrifting at shops such as Beacon’s Closet, Urban Jungle and Fox & Fawn. Also, check out stores along Bedford Avenue, near the L train, and boutiques along Franklin Street in Greenpoint.
It’s Friday night. Where to?
Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg for music shows. Or, go to Pizza Party in Bushwick. It’s a late ’80s and early ’90s-themed pizza joint and bar with old-school action figures, movie posters and other decor that will evoke childhood nostalgia.
A tourist activity actually worth the hype is:
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo, where you will find Brooklyn Bridge Park. There’s also the photo-op spot at the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street for a beautiful, iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge.
I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but:
My favorite hidden gem is anywhere in the 525-acre Prospect Park. There are trails tucked away with streams, turtles, geese and swans.
What makes Brooklyn particularly special is:
You can walk five blocks and feel like you are in a different country. In Crown Heights, we have a large Caribbean community (don’t miss the jerk chicken). In Bushwick, there’s a large Hispanic community; there’s the old-school Polish community in Greenpoint; there’s a Russian community in Brighton Beach; and more.
We’re spoiled here in Brooklyn. We pay less rent than Manhattanites and get to enjoy all types of culture and food. Of course, Manhattan also has great places to eat, but that’s just one bridge away.