What to See, Eat, and Do in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
This quaint Polish neighborhood is the best of all worlds, with longstanding local restaurants and some of the city’s most enticing parks.
Tucked off the G train in Brooklyn’s northwest corner, Greenpoint is an enclave of both Polish culture and modern millennial influence. The neighborhood—home to top-rated restaurants, popular parks, TV studios, and an abundance of plant nurseries—remains relatively tourist-free, probably due to its slightly out-of-the-way location.
Prior to recent history, Greenpoint was an industrial hub characterized by its numerous factories and maritime docks—which is largely what attracted Polish immigrants looking for work opportunities upon leaving Europe. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the neighborhood’s early Polish presence snowballed into a full-on Little Poland, as relatives, refugees, and other native Poles moved to the area together, seeking community upon immigrating to a nation that wasn’t particularly welcoming to them. By the early aughts, the city government’s revitalization efforts reached Greenpoint, and a period of aggressive construction and subsequent gentrification altered the area’s long-established demographics.
Today, even as tattooed 30-somethings outnumber first-generation babcias, Greenpoint’s Polish roots remain prevalent: bank tellers are bilingual, the cuisine is rich, and pączki is part of every resident’s vocabulary. While it may not be the immigrant haven it once was, it’s still a haven, filled with quiet, tree-lined streets and quaint little shops.
This winter, take a little staycation in Greenpoint and let the low-rise backdrop replenish your soul—here’s everything you should know about food, drink, and entertainment before visiting.
Take a culinary tour of restaurants old and new
A wealth of authentic Polish eateries line the main thoroughfare of Manhattan Avenue, run by families and longtime members of the community. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop is a ‘50s-era bakery serving popular— and affordable—handmade donuts in the city. As far as pierogies and kielbasas are concerned, Polka Dot and Pierozek are the places to visit, with the former harboring a lunchtime cafe vibe and the latter skewing more sit-down.
Once you’ve checked Polish cuisine off your list, you can also explore the neighborhood’s many other food options. In the mornings, live out your Hannah Horvath fantasies with light bites and java from the as-seen-on-Girls coffee shop Cafe Grumpy, or opt for a more filling brunch at the Blue Light Speak Cheesy pop-up on Green Street, or the beloved Chez Ma Tante. Specialty delis are the proper way to lunch in Greenpoint, with Jewish deli Frankel’s and Lebanese market Edy’s Grocer easily taking the crown.
Finger foods don’t just stop at sandwiches and wraps, though. Pizza comes in perfect form at Neapolitan pie joint Paulie Gee’s and its sister slice shop around the corner; newcomer Salsa does a formidable take on classic Neapolitan pies as well, and Screamer’s Pizzeria has the vegan pizza beat covered. Fresh tacos come wood-fired at Oxomoco, Mexico City street-style at Taqueria Ramirez, plant-based at Xilonen, and filled with seafood at Greenpoint Fish.
Come dinnertime, Greenpoint has an award-winning restaurant on offer for every palate. Class it up at the adorable Italian restaurant Le Fanfare or in Rule of Thirds’ spacious Japanese dining room—or take it to the next level with a resident chef’s tasting menu from Fulgurances, Laundromat, the first US location of a renowned Paris eatery. While it fronts as a bar, Achilles Heel is a classic Greenpoint option for eclectic small plates with a Mediterranean bent. For New American options, try Sereneco, Esme (complete with outdoor garden), and Nura; for Spanish tapas, visit El Born; and for seafood, give the newly opened El Pingüino a go. Asian restaurants are plentiful, too: Little Dokebi serves classic Korean food; Di An Di corners the Vietnamese market; Wanpaku is open daily for Japanese tapas and ramen; and Xi’an Famous Foods slings casual Western Chinese fare. If you’d prefer a DIY dinner, pick up high-quality ingredients from Big Night and create your own spread.
Enjoy a night of drinking, any way you want
Greenpoint is known for having some of the hippest bars in the city. While boutique cocktail spots, perfectly imperfect dives, and craft breweries share the spotlight, most of which have year-round outdoor spaces that’re just as pleasant as the interior.
When you’re meeting friends for an after-work drink, consider Minnows Bar—a low-key neighborhood favorite due to its lively patio and incredible queso or the old faithful Pencil Factory never disappoints either. On a night that calls for a playful elixir sipped in the warm light of a cocktail bar, Goldie’s, Diamond Lil, and Broken Land are the top candidates, each with beautiful backyards to match the mood.
If you’re looking for billiards, Greenpoint’s numerous dive bars are happy to help. Brooklyn Safehouse, Nightshade, and A Bar Brooklyn all have great pool tables and unpretentious environs that make going out a no-fuss affair. Take out the billiards and you have a roster of old-timey taverns with beautiful dark wood features and dependable draft ales. Chief among them: The Palace, with endless square footage and stained glass windows, and Black Rabbit, for that classic pub vibe.
North Brooklynites value their small-batch brews and natural wines, which makes beer and wine bars staples of the Greenpoint community. Craft beer shop Brouwerij Lane features an assortment of rare and imported ales in cans, bottles, and growlers—all of which can be taken to go or enjoyed in the tap room or back patio. And Tørst serves over 20 beer drafts on tap along with more than 200 bottled selections. For a picture-perfect brewery experience, visit Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. at the neighborhood’s north tip, which also features a popular rooftop area. Threes Brewing on Franklin Street offers the same level of beer quality in a classier, more intimate setting. Natural West Coast wines take center stage at Coast and Valley, and more unique artisanal Korean rice wines are brewed in-house at Hana Makgeolli. Newcomer The Buttery offers wines and small plates as well.
Plan an activity-filled self-care day
Greenpoint was seemingly crafted with self-care in mind, harboring some of the city’s best parks, farmers markets, plant shops, and entertainment centers. Outdoor activities are concentrated around three primary hubs—McCarren Park, McGolrick Park, and Transmitter Park—where local vendors, community sports leagues, and friends from around town gather.
Sprawling 35 acres, McCarren is the largest and most trafficked of the neighborhood’s parks, best suited for sports games, friend group picnics, and year-round Greenmarket Saturdays. McGolrick feels like a quaint town square, with ample park benches, a playground, and a historic pavilion that hosts a weekly farmers market on Sundays. Transmitter Park is the smallest of Greenpoint’s three main parks, but boasts the most stunning views. Situated along the East River, it’s the site of the former WNYC radio transmission towers, now fit for lounging with friends and enjoying sunset views of the Manhattan skyline. Down the street from Transmitter lies the Greenpoint Terminal Market, a beloved vendor fair open only in warmer months.
While roaming between parks and markets, be sure to pop into any of the neighborhood’s stunning plant shops, like Greenery Unlimited, Tula Plants & Design, Horti PLAY, and Tend Greenpoint. Or, if retail therapy isn’t your style, take part in a one-of-a-kind experience, like an outdoor movie along the East River at Skyline Drive-In or an indie film at art-house theater, Film Noir Cinema. Later, stop by Archestratus to browse their selection of both new and vintage cookbooks and also grab a snack while you’re there. If, by the end of all that, you still aren’t relaxed enough, seal the deal and float in warm salt water with a trip to the sensory deprivation spa Vessel Floats.
Turn in for the night at a boutique Brooklyn hotel
When all is said and done, you’ll need to kick your feet up. Greenpoint isn’t known for its hotel scene, but the few spots it does have are plenty cute and comfortable. You can stay in a refurbished textile warehouse from the 19th century at the beautifully industrial Henry Norman Hotel. Go for an entertainment-heavy experience at The Box House Hotel, home to a renowned rooftop dining area with a wrap-around marble bar and a bird’s-eye view of the area. Finally, if you’re going for ambience, book your stay at the Franklin Guesthouse, with serene loft-style guest rooms that resemble the centerfold of a Pottery Barn catalog.