Enjoy brews outside, expansive beer halls, intimate cocktail spots and wines from around the world. And don't be surprised when you're handed a full dinner menu instead of a list of bar grub—these are more than just your average pubs.
Before Franklin Park was a bar with a brick-walled outdoor garden, it was a massive garage. Now the big, converted space hosts monthly readings and DJ performances, as well as nightly crowds filling up the two indoor bars, intimate lounge and fireplace, and the attached game room. Predominately local craft beers are poured on tap and from the can, and satisfying comfort food is served from the adjacent Dutch Boy Burger, owned and operated by the same team.
For bigger groups who want to make things easy on their latecoming friends, gather at the long communal tables at Berg'n, where three separate NYC-born-and-based food vendors—Mighty Quinn's, Landhaus and Lumpia Shack—crank out their most popular kitchen offerings daily from 9 am onward. The hall and event space could almost pass for a college dining hall if not for its massive beer, wine, cocktail and liquor list.
Covenhaven is a beer-centric joint that offers 16 specialty craft beers on tap on rotation. This hop-lover's paradise may be intimidating for some—with its walls lined with fridges stocked full with craft, limited edition and specialty brew bottles and cans—but the relaxed neighborhood bar welcomes everyone, even first time beer drinkers. For those looking for libations with less gluten and a little bit of spicy kick, head the Bedford Ave. neighborhood staple, Catfish, where artisanal cocktails and top-shelf liquors share a menu with New Orleans and Southern-inspired classics like gumbo and Jambalaya.
Where to Eat
Few cuisines go ignored in this widely demographically and culinarily diverse neighborhood—Crown Heights' dining scene targets the neighborhood's many communities with restaurants serving up everything from smoked brisket to empanadas to sushi to Caribbean classics.
At Chavela's, recipes straight from Mexico are executed in homestyle fashion at affordable prices. A lively atmosphere and all the strong tequila you could want are just a few of the reason's why Chavela's has a loyal following in the five boroughs and from its Crown Heights natives specifically. Just down the street, Mayfield (688 Franklin Ave., 347.318.3643) offers creatively plated gourmet American cuisine in a cozy space with unpretentious, rustic and brick-walled digs. The classic American comfort food menu has specialties for carnivores and vegetarians alike, and an expansive beer and cocktail list for those looking to simply indulge in a libation of choice.
Silver Rice is a casual Japanese joint serving sushi, rice bowls and soups to stay or to go, and promises high quality ingredients and ultimate freshness. For an Australian fix, head to Boeuf & Bun, where burgers—such as the Aussie style, served with grilled pineapple—are offered alongside a long list of craft beers and specialty international wines, including numerous wines from Israel and Australia, respectively. For Kosher barbecue specialties in this culinarily bustling neighborhood with a large Jewish community, Izzy's Smokehouse is 100 percent kosher and cooks up brisket, a variety of smoked sandwiches and ribs, as well as hot wings, beef tacos and beef empanadas.
On the border of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, Tooker Alley features live jazz performances every Monday night inside its cozy cocktail lounge, and offers a drink menu appropriately titled “Serious Cocktails.” For a day with the little ones, head to the first museum in the world designed specifically to entertain and educate young'uns, the Brooklyn Children's Museum. The museum was founded in 1899 and now features interactive programming and rotating exhibits ideal for children under age 10. For adult-oriented exhibitions, FiveMyles, the acclaimed art and performance venue, hosts both emerging and established creators from around the world, with a focus on those hailing from non-Western cultures.
Catering to the needs of the area's residents, few stores in Crown Heights go out of their way to impress tourists. That being said, there are a few unique shops worthy of your time.
Marché Rue Dix curates a collection of vintage clothing, as well as accessories and homegoods from international and local designers, categorized by vintage, new, used, cheap and expensive. The boutique also offers coffees, teas, spices and beauty products, and its adjacent cafe and restaurant serves coffees and teas to stay, as well as French-Senegalese fare, including small plates, brunch and a weekly prix fixe option. For comic book fans, Anyone Comics (1216 Union St., 347.350.8422) is stocked with classic comic book series as well as the latest small press graphic novels and work by independent artists, in a welcoming space offering guests the opportunity to revel in old fandoms or create new ones. For colorful home decor, jewelry, fashion accessories and clothing from Africa, Asia and South America, check out the Crown Heights branch of Calabar Imports, the mother-and-daughter-owned African fashion boutique with clothing and other items for men, women and children.