524 Nostrand Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant
In this town, we feel like coffee culture is taken very seriously—layered notes this, caramel notes that—while the world of tea often takes a backseat. But tea has a deep complexity and global culture all its own. Alfonso Wright and Jamila McGill, the duo behind Brooklyn Tea, get it. Their tea room on Nostrand Avenue is the spot for a steaming pot of Japanese sencha or single-estate Assam. The owners are incredibly knowledgeable about tea farming and emphasize the importance of choosing loose-leaf over industrially produced bagged tea. (Tea bags are generally bleached, and the crushed, dusty tea leaves they contain are often of an inferior quality compared to whole, loose-leaf options). Trade your weekend coffee for tea and sip it among the tea connoisseurs that frequent this gem of a café.
Uva Wines & Spirits
237 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Brooklynites, rejoice: Bedford Avenue’s Uva is offering free delivery of its extensive selection of wines and spirits to most of the borough, and it’s shipping throughout the state. When it’s open, it’s not unusual to spot a leading NYC restaurateur or a food writer you’re obsessed with browsing the shelves of this small spot alongside locals who know a lot about wine. What we’re saying is that Uva is a wine shop for wine lovers, to the point that it has an entire section devoted to rare and fine bottles. And there are tons of affordably priced, interesting-to-drink bottles, too. If you’re in a curious yet noncommittal mood, click on a $15 bottle of Chilean Cabernet Franc. If you want to splurge or try something entirely new, hit the natural wine section or go wild on unusual champagnes. Uva has it all, and the enthusiastic staffers are available to help.
385 Tompkins Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant
Bed-Vyne Wine & Spirits is a collaboration from four wine and booze enthusiasts. Instead of sticking to the rubric and categorizing its inventory by region only, Bed-Vyne opts for accessibility and categorizes by taste. Do you like sweet? Dry? Earthy? Floral? Bed-Vyne has it all, and much of it is unusual. On the spirits end, the founders favor locally made and artisanal products and wine produced by Black-owned wineries, plus wines made under their own Bed-Vyne label. Order for local delivery via Drizly or download the custom app to scroll through the inventory and load up your cart.
153 Franklin St., Greenpoint
Greenpoint’s Dandelion Wines, helmed by Lily Peachin, revels in sourcing the weirdest small-batch female-produced wines from around the globe. Pre-COVID, this hole-in-the-wall neighborhood store was a treasured spot to stop by, browse a few unusual-looking bottles, and have a couple of sips. Now that experience has gone virtual with online tastings and gorgeous curated six-packs of wine that change weekly. Order via the website (take a look around and pick up some accessibly written wine knowledge while you’re there) for delivery in the New York City area and shipping nationwide.
1434 Dekalb Ave., Bushwick
In this part of Bushwick, Dweebs (on the corner of Dekalb and Wilson) acts as the neighborhood’s communal office, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a small, flower-filled patio to draw in the area’s creative minds. There are outlets everywhere and a printer that actually works. And as any local will tell you: The bagels and coffee are the best you’ll find off the Jefferson L train stop. Photo courtesy of Bridget Kenny.
69 Grand St., Williamsburg
A massive roaster occupies the front half of this vast Williamsburg café, adding an industrial vibe to this otherwise cheerful, sunlight-flooded brick space near the East River. Arrive early to snag a seat (this is freelancer HQ for the surrounding blocks, and tables go quickly), but once you’re in, there’s strong Wi-Fi and stronger coffee. We especially appreciate the daily newspapers and magazines available for catching up on the news the old-school way.
150 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg
A tiny café in the heart of Williamsburg, Bakeri is one of the original neighborhood hangouts in this ever-evolving slice of Brooklyn. All of the bread and pastries are made in-house, but locals also swear by the breakfast items, like organic eggs Provençal, baked in tomato sauce and served with a side of sourdough rye, and the lunch salads, like grapefruit avocado with kale, red onion, fennel, pepitas, and sea salt. Most people take their food to go, but the main dining room is small, cozy, and highly recommended in winter, while the backyard is a shady, cool escape in the middle of hot, humid NYC summers. There are also outposts in Greenpoint and the East Village in Manhattan.
Bellocq Tea Atelier
104 West St., Greenpoint
An industrial swath of Greenpoint isn’t the first place you’d think to find this charming curiosity shop dedicated to specialty teas, but the hidden, unexpected location is part of the fun (ring the doorbell for entry). Once inside, you’ll find a quiet retreat, with plants hanging from the ceiling and large canisters lining the purple-painted walls, filled with whole-leaf organic teas from everywhere far away: China, Japan, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Malawi. The staff is passionate and knowledgeable about any tea-related question, and aside from tea itself, there are a handful of accessories for sale—sticks of Japanese sandalwood incense, Bellocq’s own line of candles inspired by various tea blends, and all thing tea-related.
232 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg
Australian cafés have been popping up all over Manhattan in the past several years (Two Hands and Ruby’s being two of our favorites). Now Brooklyn is getting a few of its own—including Sweatshop, which was opened on a busy stretch of Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue in 2014 by Melbourne natives Luke Woodard and Ryan De Remer. The menu is full of Aussie classics (including a killer flat white and Vegemite-enhanced sandwiches), and their version of avocado toast is done with chunks of ripe avocado mixed with feta, citrus, and herb oil on a thick slab of sourdough, topped with flaky sea salt and chili flakes.
111 N. 12th St., Greenpoint
Inside a 1970s Airstream trailer at the William Vale hotel, Andrew Carmellini (of Locanda Verde, the Dutch, and Lafayette fame) and team keep the vibe loose and delicious by churning out a simple menu of the ultimate comfort food. The burgers, wrapped in a wax paper sleeve, come with a mix of cheese and a special tangy-sweet sauce on a potato bun. (All the burgers are available as singles or doubles.) There's also a veggie burger, made of black beans and mushrooms, and waffle fries. Don't leave without a soft serve—especially the Berry Gibbs, with strawberry, Nilla wafer, and sweet cream, which lives up to all the hype. And yes, there’s a lot of hype.
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