What to Eat, Drink, and Do in DUMBO, Brooklyn

Explore a flourishing food scene and take a spin on an antique carousel before snapping a pic at NYC’s most Instagrammable hot spot.

Manhattan Bridge Washington Street
Washington Street, Dumbo | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Washington Street, Dumbo | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

No matter how you arrive in DUMBO—by foot, ferry, or the A,C, or F subway lines—you’ll land in one of NYC’s most attractive neighborhoods. Short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO is known for its breathtaking views of Manhattan, world-class waterfront park, flourishing art and food scenes, and what might possibly be NYC’s most Instagrammable hot spot: the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street with the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

However, this stretch of Brooklyn was not always as charming as it is now. Prior to becoming the tourist attraction it is today, the neighborhood served as an industrial hub. In their manufacturing heyday during the 19th and 20th centuries, the historic buildings that now house loft apartments and art galleries were factories that produced everything from cardboard boxes to Brillo pads (both of which were actually invented in DUMBO). Manufacturing slowed down post-Depression and the area didn’t pick up again until the 1970s, when a wave of artists moved in, inspiring developers to take a second look at the East River-adjacent neighborhood.

Today, the pioneering spirit lives on in different ways. Not only did one of Brooklyn’s most ambitious waterfront revitalizations happen here, but DUMBO has become the neighborhood of choice for tech start-ups—most notably, Etsy is headquartered at the former Watertower printing site. With that came a wave of other developments, resulting in the history-meets-modern-day character that makes this thriving area so unique. To wit, it's also now home to multiplex Empire Stores which features its own food hall (Time Out Market), and even a SoHo House (aka DUMBO House).

For your next Brooklyn adventure, here’s where to eat, drink, and stay in DUMBO.

Em Vietnamese
Em Vietnamese | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Explore a flourishing food scene

Any culinary tour of Brooklyn must include pizza and DUMBO is home to not one, but two New York institutions: Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s, both founded by legendary pizza maker Pasquale "Patsy" Grimaldi (the latter is still associated the Grimaldi family). The neighborhood is just as well known for its brunch scene as its pizza rivalry. Head to Westville for casual American fare, Clark’s Restaurant for traditional diner food or Bluestone Lane for avocado toast, flat whites, and other Australian favorites. Vinegar Hill House is another local gem, with seasonal takes on classics like pancakes and quiche. For a non-brunch afternoon meal, try Kogane Ramen, where the noodles are made fresh daily.

You can also soak up some sun at Brooklyn Bridge Park while enjoying takeout from Bread & Spread, a popular Italian sandwich spot, or The Migrant Kitchen, an immigrant-run catering company that serves Middle Eastern-Latin fare. Need a pick-me-up? Find strong, well-made coffee at the sleek, minimalist Japanese import Arabica or the La Colombe-brewing Archway Cafe.

Those with a sweet tooth will find no shortage of treats in the neighborhood, starting with baked goods. If you’re looking for breakfast pastries, pop over to French bakery Almondine or the more eclectic Butler Bakeshop; for cakes and cookies, try Burrow for Japanese- and French-inspired goodies or Jacques Torres for his iconic chocolate chip cookie. Craving something cold? With Ample Hills, Oddfellows, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Sugar Hill Creamery all within walking distance, there are endless flavors to choose from.

Em Vietnamese
Em Vietnamese | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Come dinnertime, there’s a restaurant for every palate. Enjoy regional Mexican at Gran Electrica, seasonal French cooking at Atrium, and Saigon-inspired seafood and small plates (pro tip: order the garlic butter clams) at Em Vietnamese. For dining with a view, consider Celestine for wood-fired Mediterranean and its spectacular waterfront locale; the East River-adjacent Osprey for farm-to-table New American; or The River Café, the Brooklyn landmark—considered to be one NYC’s most romantic restaurants—with sweeping skyline views and fine-dining menu.

Evil Twin Brewing
Evil Twin Brewing | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Explore the craft beer and cocktail scene

While the bar scene here may not rival those in other neighborhoods, the drinking establishments that call DUMBO home are top notch. Beer nerds will feel right at home at the newest outpost of Evil Twin Brewing with its 20 rotating taps, while wine lovers can find an excellent selection of reds and whites by the glass or bottle at Olympia Wine Bar. For cocktails, drop into Superfine for reasonably-priced tipples (including a killer bloody Mary) or Almar for classics with an Italian twist. DUMBO Station, the seasonal bar housed in the Archway, doles out beer and wine for sipping outdoors in the warmer months.

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach | DW labs Incorporated/Shutterstock

Check out some nature, art, and shopping

DUMBO is a walking neighborhood and though it’s small in size, there’s plenty to do and explore. It’s anchored by the picturesque Brooklyn Bridge Park, which spans 1.3 miles from Columbia Heights to the Manhattan Bridge and the entire stretch is worth touring. Renovations that started more than a decade ago led to the creation of lush lawns, playgrounds, sports fields and the lovingly restored Jane’s Carousel. Designed by prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the antique carousel is worth a whirl no matter your age. From there, you’re a stone’s throw from Pebble Beach, boasting unencumbered views of downtown Manhattan, and a quick walk to Washington Street, the oft-Instagrammed cobblestone block of the Manhattan Bridge framed by two historic red brick buildings.

Though DUMBO may get more buzz nowadays as a growing tech hub, it first got its name in the 1970s from the artists who then called it home. The neighborhood continues to boast a strong gallery presence and a number of studios—including the women and non-binary-led A.I.R., non-profit organization Smack Mellon and fiber arts specialists Loop of the Loom—stay open late for First Thursdays. Some galleries go beyond just displaying art—the aforementioned Superfine showcases a new artist’s work monthly, while Usagi is a Japanese-inspired exhibition space, bookstore and micro-roaster in one.

Other forms of entertainment are also plentiful. Browse new reads at the sprawling Powerhouse Arena at the archway or, for a quieter experience, find the indie publisher Melville House Bookshop or woman-owned Adanne, spotlighting books by Black authors. Catch a live performance at St. Ann’s Warehouse, presenting contemporary plays and concerts inside a tobacco warehouse-turned-theater, or Bargemusic, a floating concert hall that plays chamber music while docked on the East River.

Brooklyn Flea
Brooklyn Flea | JJFarq/Shutterstock

While you’re here, support any number of local small businesses. The long-running Brooklyn Flea is open on weekends between April and December, bringing dozens of vendors selling vintage clothing, furniture, and more. Front General Store also markets throwback items, all carefully curated by owner Hideya Sagawa. Music fans should check out Legacy, a vinyl shop opened by three owners of Caribbean descent who wanted to highlight underrepresented genres like reggae and soul. Two other Brooklyn brands to check out: Aegir Boardworks, selling surf and skate gear, plus Bots Clothing Co., an apparel company that draws influences from streetwear culture.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Spend a night in a boutique hotel with incredible views

After a day of exploring, you’ll need a place to rest. Situated near Pier 1, the trendy 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge has an unbeatable vantage point, not to mention a plunge pool, spa, rooftop bar, and other luxurious accommodations. The New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge is a bit further away, but also has plenty of amenities, including a fitness center outfitted with Peloton bikes and two restaurants serving locally-sourced food and Brooklyn Winery wine.

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Patty Lee is a contributor for Thrillist.