A morning stroll to the Red Hook piers is an experience, marked with both less (of the congestion) and more (of cultural history). The piers here are known for being the backdrop to one of the most famous films of all time: “On the Waterfront.” You take the time to imagine yourself walking in the footsteps of Marlon Brando.
The beauty of Red Hook is the originality. Hidden gems are everywhere, like the one at 305 Van Brunt Street. Manhattan may have Williams Sonoma, but Red Hook has Brooklyn Slate Company. The home décor store specializes in personalized items like cheese cutlery, cheese plates and tote bags. An engraved cheese board with your initials sounds like a fun item to own. Other selections include soapstone pencils, cheese paper, cheese bags, cheese journals. Not to mention, of course, that there are plenty of cheeses and jams to choose from. But the hit here is the store’s ambiance… the vibe is so cool, you have to check it out.
The morning shopping spree has your belly screaming. Luckily, possibly the most famous sandwich shop in the city is right here. Defonte’s Sandwich Shop is an old-school Brooklyn haunt. The sandwiches are beyond delectable. Three meatball hero is the biggest seller among the regulars — mainly the dockworkers and industrial types — but possibly the best thing here is the shrimp parmesan hero. Lunch could get busy so brace yourself for the lines.
You can’t go anywhere in Brooklyn without running into something art-related. And a waterfront town like Red Hook isn’t immune to the trend. The Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition is housed in a 19th century brick warehouse, right on the water. Inside the warehouse is a wonderland of paintings, photographs and sculptures from local artists. The gallery is large enough to accommodate installation art pieces, while spotlighting a clay sculpture contest. The carefully-curated exhibits are rotated every few months.
Even though there are numerous specialty food stores in the area, you can’t resist a trip to Fairway Market. After its renovation from Hurricane Sandy, the supermarket is larger and more diverse than ever. There’s pretty much every type of food imaginable under the roof of this former waterfront warehouse. There’s a gigantic olive and pickle bar to go with its massive fromagerie (cheese shop). There’s even a gluten-free section of the food emporium. A café on premises is in place for those who can’t wait to get back home to cook and enjoy the fare, plus of course outdoor seating that offers magnificent views of the Statue of Liberty.
Your fridge may now be filled with fresh groceries, but you can’t resist a visit to one of the plentiful Red Hook restaurants. The area’s most famous is undoubtedly the Red Hook Lobster Pound. You won’t have any complaints indulging in one of the eatery’s famed lobster rolls. There are many varied lobster rolls to choose from, from the Connecticut Lobster Roll (paprika, scallions) or the BLT Lobster Roll (bacon, Chipotle mayo) or the Surf N’ Turf Roll (prime rib, lobster). The selections don’t stop there, as you could delve into a fried oyster roll or a crab cake sandwich.
Since you’re now in the mood for some live music, take a trip to Sunny’s Bar. Part craft, part dive, the bar opens into a large back room that features live music up to five nights a week. The best night for a local to come out and play may be Wednesdays, the day Sunny’s features Bluegrass bands. The cozy surroundings are reminiscent of an old New York carriage house, crossed with a Western saloon with bountiful knick-knack décor. On occasion, Sunny’s hosts special events, like the “Bar Bones” exhibit, which displays a collection of sculptures inspired from the bar’s own history (the bar has been open under different identities since 1890.)