5 Awesome Free Things To Do in Bed-Stuy

Free Things in Bed-Stuy

While we all love grabbing coffee, brunch, drinks, dinner – sometimes it is nice to have fun without spending money. Here are five things that you can do in Bed-Stuy for FREE!

Check out the Art Scene

There are plenty of small galleries that have featured local artists. Or better yet, go on the Bed-Stuy Arts Stroll. Calabar gallery and Peace and Riot are on Tompkins. Bailey’s Cafe on Fulton near Malcolm X. And, Richard Beavers gallery on Marcus Garvey.

Pop into the Boutiques

Angl, Peace & Riot, and The Narativ are awesome spots to kill a little time and check out furniture, clothing, and art all at the same time. While these boutiques offer “free” window browsing, you might be tempted to break out your wallet and buy something.

Live Music in Community Gardens

Often times, and mostly when the weather is nice, bands come and play in the community gardens. Sometimes there is food and a BBQ, and other times there is just a band and a beautiful environment to relax in. And while I’ve done a little Googling, and can’t seem to find any formal information about when these bands play, so if you just walk around in the spring and summer, you may get lucky!

Relaxing in Parks

We have some great parks in Bed-Stuy. Whether you have kids and want to play at the new Crispus Attucks Playground, or if you are a teenager and want to play basketball at Christopher “Biggie” Wallace next door, there are plenty of options in Bed-Stuy.

Personally, I like to relax on the grass in Herbert Von King park between Marcy and Tompkins. You can also check out sculptures in the same park. And, if you are a dog owner, there is a dog run in Herbert Van King.

Street Fairs

In the summer, many streets shut down and host a block party. There is typically music, bouncy castles and lots of people hanging out. And, you can even sneak some wine or booze to add a little extra summertime fun.

Best 5 Boutiques in Bed-Stuy

Angl

Angl is a vintage furniture and home goods boutique on Bedford and Madison. The charming duo, Elena and Noel run the shop and they definitely work their butts off. They have beautiful mid-century furniture that often turns over, so there is new stuff that you can check out every week. And, despite the small-ish size of the space, they merchandise it beautifully. They must be arranging and rearranging all the time. And, their prices are reasonable. So, if you are looking to ditch some of the IKEA stuff and spruce up your home, you should check out Angl.

Pip-Squeak

If it’s kids stuff that you are after, look no further than Pip-Squeak. Its Bed-Stuy location is on Bedford between Gates and Monroe, and they have all the gifts and toys that any kid would want. They also have a full calendar of activities, including sing-along, open play time, and a space for birthday parties. 

Make a Frame

Art is a beautiful thing and sadly, it’s being more and more digitized every day. Keeping your photos on Facebook and Instagram isn’t good enough. Backing them up to make sure you don’t lose them, doesn’t mean anything if you never look at them. Luckily for us, we have a beautiful framing store on Bedford that knows what art means and isn’t commoditizing its product. 

Peace & Riot

Peace & Riot is an eclectic boutique with African and Caribbean influences. Their space is heavily stylized through creative interior design and is a pleasure to walk through. It feels a little like the MoMA store merged with Bed-Stuy style. Peace & Riot is quite unique and everyone should check it out. 

They even have Science Saturdays for kids 6 to 12 – featuring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workshops. 

The Narativ

A cool concept store, The Narativ features globally inspired independent brands. It kind of feels like it is showing art, but is also a clothing store. It’s a very cool hybrid and feels like it found the right home in Bed-Stuy. They really focus on the designers, their heritage and their stories. Everything is beautifully organized and it is definitely worth checking out even if you aren’t in the market for new attire. 

5 Reasons Why You Should Join the Bed-Stuy Y

My family has been members of the Y since we moved to Bed-Stuy 3 years ago and we love it! Our kids are growing up there, I use the gym, and my wife takes classes. We love it all and are huge (unpaid) advocates – here are five reasons why.

1. Their People

We love all of the staff at the Y – everyone is so kind and they are also helpful. Whether it is Janice behind the front-desk on the weekends, Nicole and Leasha, the spinning instructors, or Kaitlyn and Eliza on the swimming staff – everyone is just so caring and thoughtful!

2. Their Events

The Bed-Stuy Y puts on the most charming events all the time. From big things like a Christmas/Holiday party with bouncy castles to smaller things like Member Appreciation day with a simple music setup, they always show that they care by trying to do something special.

3. How They Take Care of Kids

Our kids have so much fun and learn so much at the Y. They are learning ballet, how to swim, they love the parties and they hang out with the staff at the daycare. It really feels like they are growing up at the Y and are learning such great lessons about health, safety, responsibility and fun.

4. Their Gym and Amenities

I’ve never really worked out at a fancy gym, so I don’t know the alternative, but I do love what the Y has to offer. They have a main gym with weight machines and all of the cardio equipment, a free weight room which was just redone, a brand new spin studio, a ballet and yoga room, a boot camp room, a basketball court, a running track and, last but not least, a pool. And as a bonus, they have steam rooms and saunas in each of the locker rooms. It’s pretty amazing and they keep everything up to date.

5. It isn’t all that busy

While I’m not an expert in gym busy-ness, I am always able to get on the weight machines and never had too much trouble getting my name down for a spin class or yoga class. There are times that are busier than others, but generally, it is fine and you can get a good workout whenever you go.

So, if you live in Bed-Stuy, you should definitely support the community and get a membership to the Y!

5 Best Date Night Restaurants in Bed-Stuy

Bed-Stuy Date Nights

Whether you have kids or not, it is always great to get out and spend some quality time with the main squeeze in your life. Sometimes, it’s spontaneous and all you need is a neighborhood hole in the wall, and other times it is a big occasion, worth shelling out some coin for. The below is a list of 5 restaurants that are great spots to sit down, have a meal, some wine and relax with that special someone in your life.

Chez Oscar

Chez Oscar moved from its original location in Fort Greene to Malcolm X on the east side of Bed-Stuy. It is everything good about a French brasserie (or bistro – I’m never sure of the difference). It has a casual and is vibe, but they have an extensive menu, from French onion soup to Moroccan inspired Lamb Tagine.

It is a fun place, not stuffy at all, and it gets quite busy. It’s one of those places where you can get the house rose and throw some ice cubes in it without feeling judged.

If you are looking for a fun, French vibe, with good food, good wine and an active atmosphere, you should definitely check out Chez Oscar.

Baron’s

Baron’s is in a bit of a hidden location – it is on Dekalb near Nostrand just south of the Home Depot. Baron’s is the most unpretentious of restaurants. It is big, with very high ceilings and lots of space. It is a nice escape from the typically crammed restaurants that we are all too used to in Brooklyn. They have great acoustics and speakers for their soulful playlists. Think Marvin Gaye and CCR. You can clearly hear and appreciate the music, but it by no means impedes any conversation.

Like Chez Oscar, Baron’s also has a French-inspired dishes (given that the owners are French), but I would consider it more of an American menu that is flexible and has all sorts of options.

It’s great for date night because the food is always great, they mix great cocktails, and you can actually have a conversation!

Saraghina

Saraghina is both a restaurant and a bakery. Their bakery is top notch and supplies many of the coffee shops in Bed-Stuy with their daily pastries.

The restaurant is an excellent spot to grab simple, quality Italian food. It’s that place that we all crave when we are looking for a plate of pasta, with mouth watering sauce and a few glasses of wine. The place where you can go and unwind after a tough week and you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the Friday carb payoff that you earned.

Hart’s

Hart’s is an intimate little restaurant right near the C subway on Franklin at Fulton. It has somewhat of a more modern cuisine with a focus on culinary creativity compared to other restaurants on this list. Of any of the places on this list, I think that foodies would go to Hart’s.

And while everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a good date night restaurant, I would say that Hart’s has the most stereotypical date night feel. It is dimly lit, has fancy cocktails, and a nice wine list.

Peaches

Last but certainly not least is Peaches. Peaches is a well-established fixture in Bed-Stuy. And for good reason. It features the right combination of modern and traditional home-style southern food. It is casual, but not too casual. It’s perfect for the date night that isn’t a first date. That place where you can sweat from the spice and not be ashamed to get the sauce all over you from the fried chicken sandwich.

5 Best Coffee Shops in Bed-Stuy

coffee shops in bed-stuy

We all need our caffeine boost to start the day, and Bed-Stuy has some of the best coffee shops out there. We appreciate a relaxed atmosphere, a place where we can work and, of course, high-quality coffee. But we also look for character. The intangibles that make a coffee shop unique and part of the neighborhood. Rather than just another cookie-cutter spot with a green logo.

The Mixtape Shop

Spacious and light, The Mixtape Shop creates a very bright and welcoming atmosphere. It differs from the typical brown leathers and wooden colors that we so often see in coffee shops.

The Mixtape shop manages to combine a vinyl record store with a coffee shop in an unpretentious way. The staff is kind and unassuming so it is hard to walk by without stopping in to grab a coffee or a croissant. They get their delicious pastries from Saraghina (another local Bed-Stuy favorite) and their coffee is just right.

Even if you aren’t in the market for records, Mixtape is a great place to grab a coffee and browse the stacks. You can even sample records and learn about new artists just like we all used to back in the day.

Dough

If it is doughnuts that you are looking for, Dough is one of the best, not only in Bed-Stuy but in all of New York City. Don’t be surprised to see lines out the door and curving around the corner at their flagship location on Lafayette at Franklin Ave.  Their doughnuts are big and, not surprisingly, doughy. The chewy kind of doughnut, rather than the cakey kind. Dough is known for their modern flavors like Hibiscus and Passion Fruit, but I generally go for a Plain Glazed, which captures the simple, but essential essence of a doughnut.

Golda Kitchen

Created by the culinary genius behind the old Tilda in Clinton Hill, Golda Kitchen is much more than a coffee shop. They bake everything in-house and have some seriously creative eats on the menu. Think pastries, Mediterranean fare, and dishes that combine the two. Golda is small and popular. So expect to wait in a little line before you get your coffee and food. And, don’t expect to get any work done in there. This is a fast-paced, loud and active coffee shop. Keep your laptop in your bag, and focus on the java and the food. Located on Franklin right near Fulton, Golda is perfectly located to grab your morning fix before hopping on the C train to the city.

Corner Grind

In contrast to Golda, Corner Grind is the answer when you are looking for a quiet place to grab a coffee, breakfast and spend three hours reading the paper. You can break out your laptop and easily work an entire day there. You can actually get quality work done because of their Library-esque atmosphere. The food is simple but quite good for a coffee shop, particularly the breakfast burrito and the breakfast bowl, which is quite hearty with eggs, sausage and grits. Nobody ever accused their staff of being the friendliest, but they will keep the noise level down by asking people to leave if they take a phone call (it did happen to me).

Little Roy Coffee Co

A small coffee shop just opposite the beautiful Herbert Von King Park, Little Roy Coffee Co is where you get a cold brew on a hot weekend morning. Take that outside to a park bench with a book, and you can appreciate life for a moment or two. Little Roy Coffee Co also severe pastries like croissants and cinnamon buns, as well as avocado roasts. So, on your way to the park, why don’t you grab a coffee and a pastry because you deserve it!

5 Best Happy Hour Bars in Bed-Stuy

Best Happy Hour Bars in Bed-Stuy

Whether you are looking to grab a cinq-a-sept drink in the heat of the summer, or if you are looking to cure your seasonal effectiveness order in the winter, there are five drink spots in Bed-Stuy that you need to know about. This is Bed-Stuy Local’s happy hour list!

1. Captain Dan’s (Good Times) Tavern

Happy Hour: 5-8pm weekdays – $1 off all drinks, $20 frozen marg pitchers

Located on Nostrand and Greene, Captain Dan’s offers a casual vibe. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll style bar with a dash of hipster. There is no better way to take the edge off than by sitting outside and grabbing a Michelada or a cold beer with a shot. The bonus is that they serve great American food.

Once you’ve had your one, two or three at Captain Dan’s, check out the nearby beautiful park on Marcy and Greene. You can even have a nap on the grass!

2. The Holler

$8 Daiquiries (all the time!)

A somewhat new New Orlean’s style bar on Franklin Avenue. It’s got an amazing sound set up and an excellent choice of music on their jukebox. It’s very dark inside, so if you a vampire or are simply looking to escape the outdoors, this is the place for you.

The Holler has some kitschy cocktails that are part of its concept. I prefer to simply get a beer and/or bourbon to enjoy my seat at the bar.

A great bonus about the Holler is that it starts pretty empty if you get there early enough. And then, as you continue to lubricate, people make their way in and before you know it, it’s packed! That’s generally my cue to leave.

3. Do or Dive

Cheap Beers (all the time!) – $3 Miller, $3 PBR

One of my favorite things in the world is to go to Do or Dive for happy hour, grab an MGD (Miller Genuine Draft), sit on their awesome back patio and catch a couple of summer rays. It’s a dive bar inside and has basic picnic tables on their large back patio. 

Stay there a little past happy hour and Do or Dive turns into quite the hip spot – packed with people and lots of tattoos and piercings. Think of Do or Dive as a dive bar that is trying to be a dive bar (hence the name).

4. Glorietta Baldy

Happy Hour: 4-7pm weekdays, $1 off everything!

Glorietta Baldy is more of a real (dive) bar. It’s not dingy, but it is dark and feels like a prototypical bar that isn’t trying to have a concept and be anything more than that. If you live in Bed-Stuy near the C train at Fulton, GB is a great place to stop on your way home from work. Get off the subway, and just hop right in for a quick pint. Be careful because one can easily turn into two, three or four. And before you know it, happy hour is over and it’s 2 a.m.

5. Dynaco

Dynaco is more of a speakeasy-style bar that mixes excellent cocktails. When you’ve had that extra hard day and are looking to take the edge off rather quickly, then Dynaco could be the answer for you.

It is particularly nice on cool winter days as they have this awesome wood burning fireplace. The general feel of the bar has this warm, wooded feeling that definitely speaks winter to me rather than summer. It makes me think of a place that I would want to go after skiing.

All this drink talk on a Friday afternoon, let me get out of here and get to it before I miss Happy Hour!

5 Best Tacos In Bed-Stuy

Five Best Tacos in Bed-Stuy

CALACA BK (Mexican/Culiacan-Sinaloa region)

The Taco: Gobernador – Braised shrimp, tomato, cheese, avocado

You can get this delicious taco two ways, as a taco on a corn tortilla or as a quesadilla on a flour tortilla with cheese! Either way, it is delicious and combining it with a Mezcalita (Mezcal Margarita) makes the perfect match. The best part of the Gobernador (and all of Calaca’s tacos for that matter) is that the tortillas are homemade, one-at-a-time by the chef, Alfredo.

Beyond the taco, the vibe at Calaca is magical. They figured out a way to create an environment that always lifts my mood. I’ve lost many afternoons and evenings to Calaca because the hours (and drinks) seems to drift by. 

And, while Calaca seems super casual and easy-going, this environment was clearly thought through and deliberately architected. The dark, rustic interior is contrasted with large, south-facing windows. The music is loud and often features latin heavy metal. But it’s David’s welcoming smile that makes all of the difference. David runs the front-of-house and everyone who walks in seems to be part of the family. Every other guest gets a hug like they’ve known David for years (and they probably have).

Swell Dive (Filipino and Tex-Mex)

The Taco: Adsilog – Garlic fried rice, braised pork adobo, pico de gallo, fried egg, atchara, and chicharron

This is different from any other taco that you’ve ever had. First of all, it is a breakfast taco with a fried egg. On top of that, the Filipino inspiration punches right through. Pair it with the Narragansett on tap
(+ a shot) and you’ve got a great start to the day.

Beyond the taco, Swell Dive offers a laid-back experience, emphasized by a looping surf video projected on the back wall and watersports decor throughout. The bar staff are all super welcoming and seem to live the Swell Dive way, laid back with some even sporting long surfer ‘dos. 

Lastly, when you go to Swell Dive, order the Hurricane Fries – you won’t regret it. “Fries” is a little misleading as it is a single spiraled potato covered in cheesy queso with spices and cotija cheese.

Chilo’s (Mexican)

The Taco: Chorizo and Egg Taco – pico de gallo, queso fresco, and crema. 

Greasy and full of flavor, the way Chorizo should be. Add in the egg and all of the fixins and you have a mouth-watering taco. Just be sure that you don’t wear your favorite clothes because there is a good chance that the sauces might ooze all over you. 

Chilo’s is set up with the food outside courtesy of their food truck, and the drinks are inside at the bar. And, if you haven’t been to Chilo’s in a while, you need to check out what they’ve done out back. The backyard is now fully covered and heated. So we can go to Chilo’s in all weather and all seasons.

Once you put in your order for the tacos at the truck outside, quickly run inside and grab your margaritas! As soon as you get them, hurry back out to the food truck and your tacos will be ready. It’s a race against time, but I’m confident you’ll succeed!

Oaxaca Taqueria

The Taco: Korean

Despite being a “Oaxacan” taco joint, it’s the Korean taco that really stands out. The juicy beef tenderloin is balanced by the acidity of the kimchee. And no single flavor overwhelms the whole package. 

Oaxaca Tacqueria has three locations, two of them in Bed-Stuy. It is a very casual, laid-back environment with a focus on food over drink. Order at the counter, and typically you’ll pair your tacos with a Jurritos soda or a Negro Modello beer. Scarf everything down and you’ll be in-and-out in 15 minutes.

Tepache Mexican Grill

The Taco: Pastor

Keep it simple at Tepache. The basic Pastor taco has no frills but is simply delicious. Tepache offers a lot more than tacos. And some of their other Mexican / Tex-Mex dishes seem to be more satisfying than their basic tacos – definitely try the chimichanga.

Now, go out in Bed-Stuy, have some tacos and come back here to let me know what you think!

Welcome to BedStuyLocal.com!

Bedford-Stuyvesant

Hi and welcome to BedStuyLocal.com. This is a new podcast and blog dedicated to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. 

My goal is to have in-depth conversations with business owners and other interesting people. Every business has a story. Every owner pours their heart and soul into their business and the community every day. 

I would like to hear how these businesses came to be. Where did the owners start? How did they build up the courage and capital to open up their business?

We’ll cover restaurants, bars, retail stores, community locations like the YMCA, and many other spots.

We are very excited about our launch and upcoming conversations! We hope to hear from you, so follow us on Instagram and keep up-to-date on our latest posts.

If you have anyone that you would like us to interview who you think has a compelling story, please reply in the comments or reach out directly via email. 

Mike & Victoria’s First Podcast

Bedstuy block

Mike & Victoria’s First Podcast

 
 

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1X

 

This is a podcast test that I will try and then I will take down.