Ridgewood might be one of the best kept secrets in the outer boroughs. Nestled between Brooklyn and Queens means parks and even a Dutch museum are just an L train ride away. Forgo the Williamsburg crowds because cool new venues are popping up alongside Ridgewood’s tried and true.
This new/used book store opened just this year and was spearheaded by Benjamin Friedman, previously a buyer for St. Marks’ Bookshop. Topos Bookstore is charming, with lots of sunlight, plants and has indoor/outdoor seating. Spend a cozy afternoon nursing cold brew alongside a locally made pastry and pick up everything from George Burroughs to Haruki Murakami. Laptop junkies be warned: there’s no Wi-Fi but you can (gasp) talk to people instead or work without distraction. There’s no shortage of interesting conversations to eavesdrop on i.e. Walt Whitman’s sexuality.
This otherworldly landmark is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City and represents a bygone history. Its first occupant dates back to the mid 16th century on land granted with permission by Peter Stuyvesant, and the house served as a delineating indicator in the land dispute between counties in present-day Brooklyn and Queens. The house opened as a museum to the public in 1982 and was given landmark status in 1996. Stop by for community picnics on the beautiful grounds (see website for details) or just tour the property any Saturday afternoon.
This family owned business with Sicilian roots seriously knows bread (and pastries and cookies and cakes…you get the point). Although established in 1909 by Joseph Grimaldi, his family had been baking in NYC for years before then. Grimaldi Bakery is also a nod to the neighborhood’s deep rooted Italian community. Grab iced coffee and some definitely decadent tri-color cookies or snag a dozen fresh rolls, always baked on premises, to enjoy at home.
Although only a Thursday-Sunday joint, Nowadays Bar is an enormous outdoor-only bar that opened just last June and isn’t to be missed. Enjoy beer from Queens Brewery alongside sangria and traditional burgers and vegetarian options. Sit at one of the many picnic tables and if you’re a New York resident, stop caring you don’t have a backyard. Tourists will enjoy probably the greenest open space they’ve seen in NYC so far. Added plus? Optional pink-pong or bocce ball games.
One of the many great things about Ridgewood is the delicious diversity of food at your fingertips. If you’re on the go at lunch or skipped breakfast en route to the L, Myrtle-Wyckoff Tamale Food Truck has you covered. Reliably on the corner of Myrtle-Wyckoff, these fresh tamales will fill you up and keep your wallet full too at approximately a buck each.
Visit for locally roasted coffee by Kitten Coffee, homemade comfort food (sweet AND savory scones) and peace of mind. The always-pleasant staff greets you at Norma’s Cafe with huge smiles and the lunch options (hummus plate, paninis) always satisfy. Indoor and outdoor seating, no hipster pretension. Jewelry is also for sale by local designers.
Although technically a grocery store, this neighborhood icon is so much more. Grab your household essentials or lunch to-go at this one stop shop with an expansive deli counter, buckets of olives and pickles and Italian specialties. Fresh produce, (in summer the watermelon is on point) and sawdust on Valentino’s floor make for the ultimate experience. Not to be missed? Two words: prosciutto bread.
This delicious Peruvian restaurant has an outpost in Williamsburg, but the Ridgewood version is spacious and, dare we say, a little more relaxed. Perfect for a first date or girls’ night out – sit at the bar or at comfortable tables. Sip white sangria while you choose between traditional Peruvian entrees and definitelyrequest extra green sauce.
Take a break from eating and boozing at this expansive park right in the heart of Ridgwood. Referred to as “The Farmer’s Oval” or simply “The Oval” by locals as a takeaway from the German settlers’ farms that used to crowd the area. Take your pick of baseball fields, basketball and handball courts and even roller hockey. Or, sit in the stands as a spectator– local leagues use the park as practice and scrimmage areas and always welcome a crowd.
This bar & grill and catering hall is also a throwback to the neighborhood’s populous German community. Gottscheer Hall experienced a revival around 2012 when an influx of new and younger Ridgewood residents realized it’s a cool place to grab a beer and catch a sports game. Do both on a lazy Sunday afternoon and chow down on authentic German pub bites.
Saint Seneca Store is your Ridgewood go-to for those special, one-of-a-kind odds and ends. Described as a “neighborhood lifestyle store”, Saint Seneca Store offers everything from home décor in the way of hand-painted mugs and unique plant pots, to accessories such as handbags, and creative stationary.