Passerguide: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
From an art center housed in an old belt factory, to the best Yemeni food in New York City, to an old Italian social club turned lowkey speakeasy, Cobble Hill is more than just a laidback and leafy residential neighborhood.
With its shady, verdant streets and brownstones galore, Cobble Hill has long been a destination for families seeking upscale tranquility à la Prospect Park. But there is more to this underrated Brooklyn neighborhood than meets the eye, as Cobble Hill combines a charming small-town feel with a surprisingly dynamic culture and food scene. Yet it is unusually (and delightfully) low on tourist traffic and pretension, both impressive feats in NYC. Read on for our suggestions of how to make the most of out a day trip to Cobble Hill.
Recommended by Caitlin McMullen & Nicole Hoyakem, Cobble Hill Cinemas at 265 Court St, upscale yet cozy interior makes going to see a film feel both classy and intimate (even if you’re going to see Spiderman). Plus, they have $10 Tuesdays and Thursdays. Film options are a mix of blockbusters (like The Lion King) and festival-circuit films (like The Farewell).
If you prefer spending your time outside, Cobble Hill Park , is a small yet lively park, with an unbeatable view of old brick houses on all sides. Specifically, Adette Contreras recommends a bench on the corner of Cobble Hill Park & Verandah Place as the ultimate reading spot.
The Invisible Dog Art Center, housed in a former belt factory at 51 Bergen St, is a gallery and exhibition art space, recommended by Erin Allweiss, that has mastered the art of making innovative art accessible. They host events from performance pieces to craft markets which are always suggested donation.
Make sure to stroll by Mosaic House on 108 Wyckoff St, a dazzlingly decked out townhouse nestled on a quiet, residential street. The owner and creator of Mosaic House, Susan Gardner, is a retired art professor who started the project as a way to get out of her studio and interact with people.
Pau Hana is a nail salon at 235 Court St whose name roughly translates to “time to relax and enjoy,” which it’s easy to do due to the adorably Hawaiian surf culture themed interior. You can also relax at the thought of the reasonable prices— $11 for a manicure and $24 for a pedicure. Recommended by Verena Von Pfetten.
Bird is a carefully curated boutique with a focus on independent designer collections and a certain effortless yet chic aesthetic. Walking into the beautifully designed store is like a breath of fresh air, the kind that makes you want to buy a dozen flowy linen dresses. You’ll find everything from Rachel Comey to Rejina Pyo to Bird’s own line of dresses and earrings. Bird comes recommended by Claire Macdonald, Verena Michelitsch, Cara Flaherty and Sarah Eaton. They have four Brooklyn locations (the Cobble Hill location is at 220 Smith St), as well as an LA outpost.
Twisted Lily is a fragrance boutique and apothecary selling a curated selection of independent, indie and local scents at 360 Atlantic Ave. Sean, the sales associate we spoke with, had a deep knowledge and passion for perfumery and readily showed us a selection of fragrances tailored to our preferences. Tokyo by Gallivant was a notable favorite (and one of many fragrances available on Twisted Lily’s website).
Kaight is a boutique with a focus on small, sustainable brands at 382 Atlantic Ave. You’ll find brands like Sugar Candy Mountain, Loup and People Tree on their racks. Pronounced “kate”, after its founder Kate McGregor, the store has an overwhelmingly comfortable and relaxing feel (no small feat when it comes to the ordeal that is clothes shopping), as if you are immediately among friends. This intimate and homey feel is no facade, as Kaight comes recommended by passerby Elizabeth Novogratz whom both the sales associate and Kate herself knew by name.
Books Are Magic, at 225 Smith St, is a local independent bookstore with frequent literary events and a charming interior, co-founded by novelist Emma Straub and partner Michael Fusco-Straub (they also run M+E/Michael Fusco Design). It’s the best kind of bookstore, in the sense that the space is so beautiful and relaxing, it invites you to pick up a book and immediately plop down to read it. Known for their strong online presence, you can check out their blog or subscribe to their “Monthly Magic” book subscription even if you are not able to pay them a visit in person.
Another shopping destination is Diane T, a high-end boutique on Cobble Hill’s main thoroughfare at 174 Court St. Everything in store is personally selected by owner Diane like Milly and Marc Jacobs. Recommended by Sarah Eaton.
Must Try Restaurants
Hibino is a creative yet quiet Japanese restaurant whose speciality is daily homemade tofu and Kyoto style o-ban-zai (Japanese tapas). With unbeatable prices for good sushi in New York, no wonder it’s the go-to sushi place for passersby Lexi Cunningham and and Maura Walters. Located at 333 Henry St.
Yemen Cafe is one of the few, and according to passerby Alaa Balkhy the best, place in New York serving authentic Yemeni food. They have two locations in Brooklyn, their Cobble Hill one is at 176 Atlantic Ave. Stop by for lunch and enjoy one of the most reasonably priced and least bougie meals in Cobble Hill. Must try dishes inlcude the slow-cooked lamb slow-cooked haneeth and the fatah with honey.
Passerby Julia Sherman swears by any restaurant headed by chef Alex RaijIf, among them the chic tapas spot La Vara just a few steps away from Cobble Hill Park at 268 Clinton St. If you’re looking for an upscale yet exciting meal, La Vara delivers in style with stand out dishes like Cordero Al Ajo Cabañil (lamb’s breast with date jam) and Alcachofas (fried artichokes). The kind of place you should go with your mom when she’s in town.
Drinks & Nightlife
For an after dinner drink (or bottle), June is a natural wine bar with elegant, speakeasy-style decor at 231 Court St. Featured on our list of the best wine bars in New York, June comes recommended by passersby Erin Allweiss, Angie Venezia, Alison Roman and Adette Contreras. A great place to get out of your wine comfort zone (their menu has a “WTF?!?!?!” section) and learn what natural wine actually is once and for all.
If you’re looking for an old-school vibe, Brooklyn Social at 335 Smith St, recommended by Erin Allweiss and Adette Contreras, is your best bet. The space is converted from an old Italian social club, but maintains most of the original interior (including vintage photographs of the clubs members) and all of the charm. Erin recommends the Matt's Ginger Old Fashioned, named after owner Matt.
Long Island Bar at 110 Atlantic Ave is a classic neighborhood haunt, which has been operated by the same family since it opened over 50 years ago. The food and drinks menu leans old-school in the best way, serving things like deviled eggs and a Cognac French 75 cocktail. Recommended by Haley Nahman.
If you prefer your drinks non-alcoholic and served during the daytime, stop by Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain at 513 Henry St, an old-school soda shop operating in an old pharmacy. Go to marvel at the interior, an ode to old Brooklyn and slurp a milkshake or an egg cream.
Words & Photography by Mathilde Hjertholm Nielsen