Bourne Explorer Day Trips: South Williamsburg

We all know Williamsburg has been on the up-and-up for 10+ years now, and while there’s something new to experience nearly every day in that section of Brooklyn, it’s more likely to be a Starbucks or an J. Crew than an off-the-path boutique or cool noodle bar. That’s why I have been exploring in South Williamsburg when I’m looking for that authentic outer borough spirit I came to love when I moved out of Manhattan years ago.

I put together this succinct day trip of South Williamsburg with food, culture, shopping, and entertainment in mind. There are some new spots, some old spots, but all feature a few common denominators I love so much about this section of Brooklyn: entrepreneurial spirit, low-key vibes, and a friendly clientele – and all of them have an interesting story behind their business.

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Gourmet Guild

I started the morning at Gourmet Guild, an ambitious little marketplace, bar, and bakery located at 110 Broadway (at Berry). Upon walking in the front doors, you might think that this is just another spot serving coffee and selling artisanal chocolates, but that’s where the comparisons end with other upscale markets. Gourmet Guild has a tavern license with which they can sell and serve alcohol (a sake bottle selection and cider on tap!) as well as an in-house bakery and some of the best sandwiches around. Owners Steven Clark and Jee Han opened the space just 3 years ago, and both have a strong background in interiors, design, and food. But it’s not just their selection of goods and welcoming spirit that makes it so special – the owners are truly dedicated to creating a sense of community in South Williamsburg, and are even working on a program of cooking classes and events to hold in the adjoining back room. Check their Facebook for updates later this year.

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Choplet

If you’ve been anywhere on Grand Street along the border of North and South Williamsburg in the past 10 years, you may have noticed Nadeige Choplet‘s unassuming namesake ceramics studio, holding ground with its pale turquoise storefront. A creative jack-of-all-trades who arrived in New York on scholarship from Paris’ prestigious Beaux Arts School, Nadeige opened her studio nearly 10 years ago, long before many others arrived. She has been expanding her space slowly but steadily over the past few years to include over 15 wheels, 24-hour access for die-hard members, a backyard garden space open to members, and even a second location in the neighborhood for members requiring private studio space. Nadeige confesses that her number one goal is community building and enabling people to produce “incredible work”, and after taking a tour around her space, we think she’s succeeded. Stay tuned for an extended “Tastemaker” interview with Nadeige coming this summer.

Tip: the studio boasts over 20 in-house glazes that are specially mixed for members, plus year round classes for adults and children. Located at 238 Grand Street (at Driggs).

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Berlyn65

Walking into Serap Bahadir’s corner shop Berlyn65 is transformative, not only because of the beauty of the bright and airy space but by the warmth of the owner, a former costume designer from Turkey via Berlin who opened the shop several years ago. Serap has curated a selection of beautiful Turkish goods, from scents for the home to handmade cotton towels to jewelry, all made by artisans in her native country. Watch out for later this year when she starts designing her own textiles; she has absolutely impeccable taste. Located at 346 Bedford Ave (at S. 3rd).

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Samurai Mama

I have long been a fan of Makoto Suzuki‘s Brooklyn based restaurants, (he is opening his seventh restaurant this June, with one located in Japan), but I have a special place in my heart for Samurai Mama, as it the one I dine at the most. A mellow space with great lighting, both communal tables and private booths, and a nicely edited menu, I could spend hours here sipping tea (or sake) and savoring a big bowl of Udon, even though I usually opt for the bukkake ramen. Owner Makoto Suzuki attributes his inventive cooking style to when he was struggling as a poor aspiring actor – he had to come up with whatever creative combinations he could! We’re happy (and grateful!) to be able to experience these delicious experiments in his beautiful restaurant. Stay tuned for an extended “Tastemaker” interview with Makoto coming this summer.

Tip: the fried chicken and dumplings served in a skillet are a few of my other go-tos. Located at 205 Grand Street (at Driggs).

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Freehold

A hotel lobby, sans overnight accommodations. Who would have thought? But it works – and works so well. This beautifully designed space is essentially an expansive cafe, bar, and event space (depending on the time of day), and is a great spot to refresh, hold a low-key meeting, or get in a couple hours of work without having to worry about taking up a table. They also have a weekly DJ night and an outdoor space, making this the perfect spot for daytime or nighttime fun. Located at 45 S. 3rd (at Wythe).

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HOW TO GET THERE:

East River Ferry 

This ferry shuttles commuters and tourists alike through the waters of the East River. With pick up and drop off spots in Lower Manhattan, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and more, it’s an easy form of transportation that is way more fun than the subway. Find schedules and rates here.

Additional Suggestions:

Bird / Hip boutique featuring designers like Rachel Comey, Pamela Love, and more. (203 Grand Street)

Sharktooth / Airy space with handsourced vintage rugs & textiles from around the world.  (111 Grand Street)

Nitehawk Cinema / Indie cinema with a knockout menu, served right to your seat in front of the big screen. (136 Metropolitan Ave)

Marlow and Sons / One part coffee shop, one part market, one part restaurant – they’ve got what you need.  (81 Broadway)

DinerWhere the menu is always local, and because of this the items are jotted in pen right on your paper tablecloth by the waiter. (85 Broadway)

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Stay tuned for Tastemaker interviews on the hip owners and restauranteurs from this post!

 

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