If you've decided to come out to Brooklyn—good call!—and you find yourself in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill (which also just happens to be my neighborhood), let us help you with your agenda. Perhaps you start at the Brooklyn Flea on Lafayette Ave., or maybe with a movie or concert in Fort Greene Park. Now where? Follow us:
This café looks just like the name implies, in a charming way, and has delicious Balthazar croissant sandwiches and grilled cheeses (some with chocolate…). But, really, I can’t come here without falling into an incredible conversation with a nearby table. It’s super close to Pratt Institute, so expect artists sketching (and me indulgently holed up with a book).
This light and airy spot was started for industry folk to get brunch foods every day. They serve everything from fruit and lardo toast (you must order this) to oysters to ridiculous sandwiches (think the best egg and cheese you've ever had, or cold roast beef with horseradish crème fraîche). And with both coffee and wine or cocktails, there’s something for everyone here. Pro tip: Grab one of their excellent pastries on your way out.
This stand on the corner of Clermont and Dekalb is great for a quick coffee, but is really known for its amazing ice cream. And it's far from vanilla—choose from flavors like Paw Paw, Lychee Yuzu, Brandied Cherry, Irish Oatmeal.
Come to Greene Grape’s Annex for a cup of excellent coffee and a pastry; the biscuits and scones, both of which they make, are especially good. Bring a magazine, try to snag one of the comfy chairs in the corner by the window, and be in the mood for people watching—this is one of my favorite spots to pleasantly kill time.
Located in an actual renovated garment cleaner storefront, this shop is a local go-to for clothes and accessories by the likes of Maison Kitsuné, Isabel Marant, Tomorrowland, Want Les Essentials, and Rachel Comey.
This has to be my favorite local shop, run by none other than Jill Lindsey. It’s one part clothing store, one part gifts and craft objects, one part furniture, and another part wine and coffee bar (with a lovely garden). With events ranging from Flower Essence Therapy to Biodynamic Wine Class to Supper Clubs (I did one!) and a wellness floor below the shop, you can keep coming back here week after week.
This tiny spot has beautiful flowers that are always a bit unusual. Delgis is the woman that runs the place—ask her to make you a bouquet; she has an incredible eye for putting them together and will give you the best care tips.
This intimate bar serves seasonal cocktails, wine, and beer and is part of the next-door restaurant Aita, which is my favorite Italian in the neighborhood. It has a speakeasy vibe—a little romantic, a little sneaky. Get here early, as tables tend to fill up quickly.
This spot, located in a former garage, serves up craft cocktails and great music. As cozy as it is in the winter, they open up all of the windows to the street in the summer; when I passed by last Sunday, there was a full-on street barbecue happening. I hope you're so lucky, too.
Head here if you're looking for solid burgers, fried chicken and waffles, and super-crisp French fries. But if you walk through the restaurant and go through the back door, they just opened up a Japanese-inspired, secret (not-so-secret) cocktail bar called Karasu that serves Japanese scotches, super interesting cocktails, and small bites.
If there can only be one restaurant recommendation for this area, it has to be Roman’s. Owned and run by the crew from Diner and Marlow & Daughters, the food is over-the-top good. It’s a market-based, Italian-ish menu that changes daily—pull a chair up to the bar, order an Aperol spritz, and let them tell you what to get; they’ve never steered us in the wrong direction. If there’s a little bit of a wait—and this can happen—head next door to Public House for a draft pint while you wait.
Head to this garden-level spot when there’s beautiful weather and you’d rather have a cocktail outside before you eat: They have a backyard that feels like a design-minded neighbors’. Then go inside and order the steak.
You can’t go wrong with the Finch, which was opened by a former Roberta’s chef. It’s seasonal, new American-style food in a renovated brownstone. Skip the tables, and sit at the wraparound, white marble bar instead—it's my favorite place to eat and watch the kitchen at work.
I’m a bit die-hard for pizza, and Emily has such creative pies. I go back over and over for the Colony (mozz, pepperoni, pickled chili and honey), the ¡PXG! (tomatillo sauce, mozz and Fleisher’s chorizo) and, oddly enough, the burger here, which sells out every night.
If you’re short on time but still want a great meal, try either Black Iris for Mediterranean food (and one of my favorite versions of baba ganoush in the borough), or Habana Outpost for some elote and a couple tacos—and a livelier, more outdoor vibe. Or, go to Greene Grape, a small, selective grocery store, for a sandwich or a basket full of picnic supplies. They’ve got everything you'll need, down to the prepared grain salads, a full cheese counter, and a wine store next door, to tote to Fort Greene Park down the street.
Without fail, the Saturday morning ritual in the neighborhood revolves around heading to the Fort Greene Farmer’s Market. Of course, there is the freshest, local produce around, but you can pretty much shop for the week since this market also has local seafood, meats and cheeses, plus a stand for flowers (we all buy ourselves flowers on the weekends, right?). Ronnybrook and Hot Bread Kitchen round out the bunch, and don’t miss the cinnamon donuts at the first stall! For some caffeine post-market (or pre-), head to Bittersweet for a latte—it’s right across the street.
What are the neighborhood spots in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill you'd recommend to visitors? Tell us, and them, in the comments below.