Written by Andrew Davidov
Whenever I tell someone I live in Park Slope, I always get the same “ooh, ahh!” response. “Wow, Park Slope is such a nice area!” or “I heard the food is great!”, “Do you live in a brownstone?”. Well, yes, yes, and yes!
With New York City being such a beautiful and encompassing place, it can be challenging to choose what to do when balancing life and work. Visiting Brooklyn for tourists, and even for some Manhattanites, can seem like a borough far, far away. Yet, it’s not. All you have to do is take a quick ride on the N, Q, or D train and you can be from Midtown to Park Slope in 30 minutes.
No other city neighborhood in the world has such an effortless organic mixture of brownstones, nature, and eclectic people as does my community. The homes come out of a story book and the stores are dominated by mom and pop shops with a chic and hip attitude. The scenery is straight out of a fairytale.
To give you a sense of the magic this neighborhood possess, I’ve comprised a list of the hotbeds of Brooklyn hipness to check out when you come. To help you travel like an explorer and live like a local in Park Slope.
Arguably for some, the most “Brooklynesque” cafe in Park Slope. Last weekend my lovely girlfriend and I woke up early on a Saturday morning to head to Cafe Regular du Nord for a coffee, pastry, and quiet place to read. We walked in and were struck by how many locals had the same thought. We got our coffee, Au Bon Pain and perched on a couch-like alcove designed to fit into the circular window next to the door. We sat back, she reading for class and me reading for pleasure, and enjoyed our morning reading and looking outside at the brownstones.
Cafe Regular du Nord is a famous micro gem of Park Slope. They have been featured in commercials and publications since its inception, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Conde Nast Traveler.
When you need that quick caffeine pick-me-up, be sure to visit the cafe. You will have one the best cups of coffee you can find in New York.
Spend some time in NYC and you’ll inevitably hear the classic Brooklyn quote, “ya know, the guy who designed Prospect and Central Park said he likes Prospect Park better.”. I, admittedly, am one of those people who say that and with good reason. You can bird watch, play sports, have a picnic, take a snooze, run, go kayaking, visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, do Yoga, and even go to Smorgasburg in the summer. I will always stick by my word when saying the best-looking people in all of New York City hang out at Prospect Park.
When I first moved to Brooklyn, Prospect Park was one of the first places I visited. I moved in with seven friends, all of whom never have lived in Brooklyn either. We went to the park during our first weekend in the summer and brought pizza to watch the sun go down. That memory holds dear to me and I instantly felt like part of the community.
For those looking for fresh, organic food, the Park Slope Food Coop is the world’s largest member food co-op with 17,000, and counting, members, and co-owners. There is a vast selection of locally grown and sourced vegetables, fruits, grains, fish, meat, herbs, teas, and even kombucha (a Brooklyn favorite!).
There is such a different feel inside “The Co-Op” than any other grocery store. Everyone is helpful and friendly with each other. When you are looking for pumpkin oil or jackfruit stir-fry, need only to ask the shopper next to you where they remember placing these items at their last monthly work shift.
In January I was living a hop, skip, and jump away in Crown Heights. Being a foodie, there was an underwhelming supply of organic and affordable fruit and vegetables to choose from. A roommate of mine said the PSFC was the Mecca of grocery stores in Brooklyn.
I joined and never turned back. I have never spent such little money on such high-quality food. Since each member has to fulfill 2.75 hours of a work shift once every four weeks, it is the most friendly place to shop because everyone knows what it is like trying to maneuver a 200-pound cart of coffee beans, nuts, and spices in a four-foot wide aisle. The Park Slope Food Coop has become my home away from home (don’t worry mom, no store will ever replace your kitchen pantry).
Fair warning: members only can shop at the co-op, but you can ask for a guided tour.
Step inside my home. A $1.6 million dollar brownstone built in the 1850’s – according to Zillow and our landlord, whose family once lived in this modest palace. We have wooden floors, custom made crown molding, forest green living room walls, a linoleum kitchen ceiling, a Florida room, and an overgrown backyard. That’s just the first floor. The next two floors above you comprise of five bedrooms, one of which used to be the living room, evident by the out-of-date iron fireplace. I live in a 10 X 6-foot bedroom- yes, I know – with a window looking directly at the most beautiful tree in Park Slope and the gardens from our neighbors.
With the assistantship of Moishe House, a Jewish non-profit organization supporting the development of homes for Jewish young professional across the world with 93 homes in 21 countries, our rent is subsidized.
I pay under $200 a month to live in a brownstone in Brooklyn with four of my good friends. Talk about a lucky break.
Every month we host seven events for our local community around volunteer work, Shabbat meals, social justice call-to-actions, parties, topical conversations, and discussions on environmental improvements. We also (subtly) attempt to create romances between Millennial singles. I have yet to claim a shidduch (Yiddish for “match”), but my time will come. I joined the Moishe House because it is a place to bring the community together underneath one roof.
My house welcomes you to join us to events when you’re passing by and looking for a safe-haven to kick your feet up and relax.
Brunch in Brooklyn is a must. When you stop by Miriam on a Sunday morning, you’re going to need to make sure you have a designated person willing to stand by the restaurant for at least a half-hour before you’ll sit down.
The interior of Miriam reminds me of my parent’s living room – warm brown and red walls, funky tables, and what seems to be a gas-powered chandelier. The food, oh, the food! My go-to meal for brunch, priced at a modest $15, is their Israeli Breakfast. Two eggs any style (scrambled), Labneh cheese, home fries, Israeli salad, and pita. I have been there a handful of times and have never ordered anything other than this piece of heaven on a plate. Miriam is a must for the best food in Brooklyn.
When you’re in need of a good book during your travels, stop by Community Bookstore. They have an incredible selection of new books from every genre imaginable. The staff is always so friendly and there is a cat that is always there on the prowl (pun semi-intended). Community events with both adults and kids are frequently held there. Seeing the kids in intellectual actions will make your heart melt.
I love to hop in there whenever I have some time to kill. I bought a cookbook recently and I have been making complex recipes almost every weekend since I have had it.
It is the perfect environment to be social and a nice place for quiet refuge when you are in need. It is a place that has given me tremendous joy from doing so and I highly encourage you to check it out, and hopefully buy a good new book.
Imagine walking into an old musty house of a distant relative you only see during Thanksgiving. It’s not hard to imagine when you visit, Trailer Park-Unique Home Furnishings. There is an eerie collection of wood-grained armoires, tea cup sets from the ’70’s, and an airplane zooming across the linoleum ceiling. The owner fits perfectly into the aesthetic of the house and will welcome you in with a warm smile.
I bought a chic corner table there for $25 where I place my laptop, custom-made tea cup from my girlfriend, gratitude journal, and empty bowl of yogurt or oatmeal during my morning routine.
The good people at The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. created the perfect formula for every superhero:
A place to buy your superhero accessories + space for children to learn = a headquarters in Park Slope to save the world!
The nonprofit is “dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills.” I have only popped in to the store once, but it left a lasting impression. They show you how any idea is possible when you are trying to save the world. Just ask the superheroes in capes learning how to write.
A list of things to do in Brooklyn without a great pizza place is like a great pizza without sauce and cheese. Impossible.
Located on 5th avenue, they make themselves known with their notorious black Artichoke pizza sign with its lime-green letters and bold artichoke logo. Do yourself a favor and order the artichoke slice. The crust is thick and fluffy and the cheese and artichoke are a perfect marriage. Seriously, if you’re missing out on Artichoke, you’re missing out on New York.
In any neighborhood, we can all use a little love from role models. VOCAL-NY has them in their staff and client base.
It is an organization building “power among people affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use, and mass incarceration to create healthy and just communities.” They have a storefront on 4th avenue in Park Slope where my co-‘Moishe Housers’ and I deliver dinner to once-a-month to for the men and women they serve. To understand a community, you must become part of the community. It serves as a space to bring together individuals I would not have the opportunity to meet and grow with – plus, the staff of VOCAL-NY are the most gracious and loving group of social workers anyone can ever meet.
Andrew Davidov is a writer, reader, art teacher, community builder, and social justice activist. Andrew juggles his passions in his life with a smile and fire to make the world a better place. His true love has always been to explore the world around him. Pick any Saturday or Sunday to see what Andrew is doing and you will get the same answer – walking around a new part of New York with a cup of coffee and a book. Ask Andrew what you should do with your time. He will hold your hand with a smile and game plan to explore.