How To Spend a Day in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant Neighborhood

Bed-Stuy is hotter than hot: Take a day and kick it in Jay-Z's old neighborhood.

Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant, also known as Bed-Stuy to locals, has been the hot bed for gentrification since the early 1990s. The New York Times once called Bed-Stuy “Brooklyn’s Little Harlem.” That was in 1961. The neighborhood is well-known for producing some of hip-hop's most well-known and prolific artists such as Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Mos Def, Lil’ Kim, Old Dirty Bastard, actor-comedian Tracy Morgan, as well as baseball hall-of-famers, Connie Hawkins and Jackie Robinson. So is this neighborhood a big deal? We think so.

Where to Eat

Brooklyn is a trailblazer in innovative cuisines, and Bedford-Stuyvesant has become fertile ground for new chefs to set up shop.

A few blocks from the A express train lies L'Antagoniste, a brick-walled, farm-to-table restaurant bringing approachable and authentic French traditional dishes with new and old world wines. Bring a friend and your own favorite bottle of wine on Mondays for a B.Y.O.B. and poulet au vessie (chicken) special—a foie gras and truffle-laced luxurious dinner.

Craving some good 'ol Southern cooking? Peaches is a modern Southern spot nestled in a historic brownstone neighborhood and features a contemporary menu, like shrimp and grits and fried chicken. Kick back and relax in a space that's as comfortable as your grandmother’s dining room with service as welcoming as her hospitality.

For the more eclectic palates, Golda is a great example of the fusion of cultures that is prominent in Bed-Stuy. This all-American diner features a menu with sophisticated, Middle Eastern twists.

The Mixtape Shop boutique

Where to Shop

Take a stroll down the brownstone-lined streets and visit some homegrown shops showcasing a blend of cultural influences. Peace & RIOT offers upscale home decor and knickknacks from African and Caribbean heritages, while Willoughby General is a vintage store with curated antiques and handmade goods. Music heads shouldn't miss The Mixtape Shop. This little record shop and café specializes in indie soul, funk, jazz fusion, Brazilian and more.

Where to Drink

These low-key neighborhood bars serve up strong, inventive cocktails, great beer and wine, as well as full menus late into the night. Moloko serves great happy hour specials and stays open until 4 am every day. You won't find small bar bites here: A full menu, including salmon and fried chicken, as well as a late night menu with double cheeseburgers and oxtail burritos (yes, please!) is what you can choose from. Please note: This is a cash-only bar.

Dynaco's dimly-lit and rustic ambiance serves up no-fuss cocktails with homemade cakes and pies; also cash only. LunÁtico is owned by three touring musicians, and focuses on providing great live music which keeps the small bar packed six nights a week with music fans enjoying intimate live shows on the tiny stage upfront. The music will bring you in, but the unusual twists on classic cocktails, as well as the separate mezcal and Amari list will keep you coming back. 

Cultural Attractions and Things to Do

Bed-Stuy offers tree-lined blocks, historic architecture, and a strong artistic presence from galleries to theaters. 

Richard Beavers Gallery showcases collections primarily consisting of artists whose work depicts various aspects of life in an urban environment through a multitude of genres. The artwork is inspired by the culture of these communities and addresses the many social and political issues in the forefront of society.

The historic Billie Holiday Theatre is a community theater that affords up-and-coming African-American writers a platform to showcase their new works. There are several works and showcases presented monthly, as well as a tour of the theater is available.

Walk along Stuyvesant Ave. and explore the styles and architecture of the 19th-century brownstones in the Bed-Stuy Historic District including Queen Anne and Beaux Arts.

Farah Lopez
About the author

Farah Lopez is the Marketing Editor and a French-Canadian transplant living in SoBro (South Bronx). Follow her food-o...