How to Spend a Perfect Day in Bushwick, NYC

Put on your walking shoes and spend the day exploring Bushwick, Brooklyn | © who?du!nelson / Unsplash
Put on your walking shoes and spend the day exploring Bushwick, Brooklyn | © who?du!nelson / Unsplash
Photo of Alex Wexelman
Staff Writer4 August 2020

Brooklyn’s popular neighborhood of Bushwick is filled with hip artist-run coffee shops and clubs that make a detour from Manhattan a must. Here’s how to best spend 24 hours in this edgy area of New York City.

Bushwick, Brooklyn, has a reputation for being a “hip” neighborhood. Musicians and artists flocked here after Williamsburg got priced out, and it became the next nabe with (relatively) cheap rent. As a result, there are plenty of coffee shops, bars and nightlife options to add something different to the usual trip to New York (and it’s all only about 20 minutes outside Manhattan on the subway). Skip the graffiti tour and enjoy a perfect day in Bushwick the way one of its residents would.

Morning

If you’re coming from the city, the subway is the easiest way to get to Brooklyn. Once you’re over the bridge, check out Tina’s Place for a hearty breakfast in a comforting diner setting. Its no-frills menu is cheap (get here before 11am for free coffee), and its wood-paneled walls and countertop seating give it a real throwback vibe that HBO’s The Deuce loved enough to use as a featured location on the show.

From here, it’s an easy walk to Maria Hernandez Park, a 7-acre (3ha) community space. Grab a bench and take in some sun or view the action from the adjoining dog park. There’s plenty of grass should you want to relax, and basketball courts if you would like to join a pick-up game.

Afternoon

Just down the block from the park’s southern entrance is Molasses Books, a coffee shop-bar that doubles as a used bookstore. Get lost in a story while you sip a latte, but know that seating is limited. The small space is cozy and encourages communal small-talk once laptop use is cut off at 8pm, and the ambiance livens up. Baristas – most of whom are artists themselves – spin records, and the events schedule reflects the neighborhood’s diversity.

On the corner of Knickerbocker is Tony’s. For more than 40 years, this pizza joint has served a reliably great slice – the spinach and artichoke is a standout cut. Nearby, L Train Vintage has two floors of used clothing at great prices. There’s a wide variety of shirts, jackets, pants and accessories that will keep you busy searching for a unique fit.

Evening

Bushwick is an antidote to the expensive Lower East Side, so instead of going to a fancy restaurant for dinner, save some money and hit up Regalo De Juquila, a local favorite. The best Mexican food in the neighborhood – and possibly the borough – is made in a hole-in-the-wall bodega that’s open until 4am. The burritos are hearty, and if you eat in, you get chips and salsa before the meal.

Next door are two Bushwick stalwarts, the bars Happyfun Hideaway and Birdy’s. Happyfun is a neon-lit tiki-themed gay bar with tropical drinks and a sprawling backyard, while Birdy’s is a punk-rock-themed throwback with pinball machines and Sonic Youth on the PA. If you go with Birdy’s, don’t miss the frozen whiskey sour, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t just go to both bars.