Bushwick: you may love it, you may hate it, you may be irrationally opposed to going out and partying in it because you're pretty sure it's "only for hipsters". Well it isn't, and to prove once and for all that it's a destination worthy of even the gentlest of gentlemen, we donned our finest, braved the L train, and put together this guide to the best spots to hit in the 'hood (with some added tips on how to handle everything if you don't have any tattoos or even graffiti skills). Presenting, The Gentleman's Guide to Bushwick:
If there's one rule to remember for this whole thing, it's that a gentleman is never afraid to travel for something awesome. With that in mind, go get the best burger in Bushwick -- it's amongst the best in the city and it's at Fritzl's Lunch Box, deep in Bushwick off the DeKalb stop. It's a blast of juicy beef that's topped with cheese and almost relish-like chopped pickles. A gentleman washes it down with a craft beer like Westbrook's One Claw.
A gentleman always knows it's wise to embark on a stroll after a burger -- it's the perfect time to contemplate the finer things in Bushwick whilst taking in the deafening noise of sirens, PA systems from the late '80s, and a fine cigar. The stroll should also end in cocktails; cocktails from Pearl's Social & Billy Club, specifically. It's a warm, wood-accented establishment that whips up delectable libations including two that a gentleman won't go astray ordering: The Amphion or Numero Dinero, a pair of refreshing concoctions that, yes, are brightly colored. Because a gentleman's never afraid of a brightly colored drink. Except Blue Hawaiians. Those are gross.
Did you think we were going to do a Gentleman's Guide without going to a whiskey bar? We're not. Gentlemen are known for their love of whiskey, and Heavy Woods is the place to get it; their selection offers Scotch, single malts, blends, bourbons, and ryes, and they also dish out the most mouth-watering chicken biscuits in all of Bushwick. Constructed with hand-made pepper jelly, cilantro, and Maldon sea salt, a gentleman would be totes remiss to not complement a fine whiskey with this Southern masterpiece.
Because spending a whole day inside drinking and eating is reserved for roughians and people from Minnesota, a gentleman always knows a good outdoor spot. Enter: The Rookery, a large bar with an expansive, fire-pit aided outdoor space, and an expertly curated cocktail list. Try the Highland Boy: Cragganmore 12, Heering, Stone's Ginger Wine, Ramazzotti, and OJ. Yessir, I do believe I'll have another.
Although money is no option for a true gentleman, being frugal and making smart economical decisions is a skill possessed by every cavalier drinksmith. For a $5 cocktail happy hour that runs until 9pm and billiards for a buck, you'll naturally want to swing by Welcome To The Johnsons.
The second iteration of the LES staple, Bushwick's version is much larger and comes correct with a sleek, modern, art-deco interior that looks like a hotel lounge you'd find in 1950s Miami, minus the oversized suits and comically large cigars. Order the Sazerac Sling, play some pool, then step outside for a regular-sized cigar.
If there's a single spot a gentleman should grace in Bushwick, it's the acid trip also known as Asian-fusion spot King Noodle. While a gentleman is above eating Doritos with his hands (too dusty!), putting them in his kimchee carbonara and eating them with chopsticks is totally on his level. Also, the mapo tofu cheese fries are simply not to be missed.
A gentleman always looks super-cool when going splitsies on a Scorpion Bowl. Their flaming one is exemplary.
Before immediately rushing off to shove his refined and expertly trimmed face full of more food, a gentleman should stop by The Narrows, one of Bushwick's OG cocktail bars, for a Green Flash Rayon Vert, a Penicillin, and some mood lighting.
A gentleman knows there will be a wait at Roberta's, so he's not upset when he gets there. Patiently lead your party to the Tiki hut out back, and order a round of chilled Lambruscos.
After a brief but pleasurable wait of no less than two hours, you will be seated, and you will be fed amazing pizzas, like the Good Girl with kale, Taleggio, garlic, chili, and pork sausage, and pasta like the oxtail cavatelli with horseradish and celery.
A gentleman certainly knows when to call it a night, at which point he admires the art, gets an Uber, and goes home. Under no circumstances does he score Molly and go to an underground art opening or dance club. Enough is enough.
1. The Rookery425 Troutman St, Brooklyn
2. Fritzl's Lunch Box173 Irving Ave, Brooklyn
3. Pearl's Social & Billy Club40 Saint Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn
4. Heavy Woods50 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn
5. Roberta's Pizza261 Moore St, Brooklyn
6. King Noodle1045 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn
7. The Narrows1037 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn
8. The Johnson's369 Troutman Street, Brooklyn
Offering tasty pub grub, craft 'tails, an extensive wine list, and a large array of draught and bottled beer, you can't go wrong when it comes to The Rookery and their beautiful garden.
From the ravenous mind of owner Dan Ross-Leutwyler, whose bonafides include time at Roberta's, Fatty 'Cue, and The Breslin, FLB is a hidden gem off the Dekalb L stop. This tiny, slender spot seats guests side by side along one wall and in the warmer months has a great little back patio illuminated by Christmas lights at night. This place is best known for its $10 burger with chopped pickles, onions, and special sauce (it's charred miso aioli, shhh) on a toasted sesame bun. The pillowy, beer-battered broccoli is equally delicious, as is the palace fried chicken on a roll. Stop by for brunch to savor unique menu items like the Spicy Crab Cake Omelet and the Morning Beer, which is house-made kombucha with Founders IPA.
Pearl's Social & Billy Club was one of the first bars to open in Bushwick when the neighborhood was undergoing its first wave of hipster-led gentrification. Still going strong, it's an unfussy and low-key place for cheap beer and cocktails served in Mason jars. A long wooden bar, warm lighting, and candles give it a mature vibe that sits well with the thirty-something crowd.
This cheery Bushwick dive has been serving up great 'tails, a number of brews, and a myriad of fine liquors since it opened up shop in 2012.
Don’t be dissuaded by the gritty, graffiti-splattered cinder-block facade, Roberta’s is among New York’s most celebrated pizzerias, having made an international footprint (sauce print?) with visiting Europeans and local Bushwick loft-dwellers alike who endure long waits on nights and weekends for a table. Inside the red front door, you'll find a warm dining room and open kitchen where blistering discs of dough are pulled out of an Italian-made wood-burning oven and given names like Speckenwolf (mozzarella, crispy speck, cremini mushroom, red onion, oregano) and Millennium Falco (parmesan, pork sausage, red onion). The final product is Neapolitan-like in taste and structure, and since you probably won't have any leftovers, do yourself one last favor and buy a loaf of bread from the on-site bakery on your way out.
King Noodle's MO is all about hyper-Americanized Chinese food, while combining unique ingredients to develop delicious and slightly avant-garde eats. Leave it to the crew that gave us Dorito kimchee carbonara to come up with mapo tofu chili cheese fries, which feature mouth-tingling Szechuan peppercorns, tofu, scallions, and good ol’ American cheese.
Starkly designed with naught but a plain wall and basic bar stools, this cocktail bar is a Bushwick mainstay that aspires to nothing but mixology excellence. Armed with an outdoor patio and smartly dressed bartenders, it's the kind of neighborhood spot you meet friends for adult-priced drinks and perhaps a pre-dinner app or two. Casual dress is perfectly acceptable, as is the ordering of an excessive number of oysters during their popular happy hour.
An expansion of the Lower East Side dive Welcome To The Johnsons, this Bushwick bar does away with the grungy "parents' basement" vibe and classes things up a bit (in cocktails and decor more than clientele behavior). You can expect more than bottom-of-the-well drinks: some ten cocktails are served alongside bottled beer, from a plum-kissed Tom Collins to pomegranate margaritas. You'd think the Manhattan original was the mature one, but instead this BK baby gets upgraded leather seating, hanging egg chairs, and a fireplace -- but there are still pool tables and general rowdiness from the drinking 20-somethings.