Eat/Drink/Play

. . . in and around Gowanus

The colloquium venue — the Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) — and the recommended colloquium hotels are located in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood. Here are a few locally sourced tips about where in the neighborhood you might like to grab a bite or a drink, or spend some leisure time. (Of course you can always seek professional advice at YELP and TimeOut-Gowanus.) Everything’s within walking distance (except the things marked with a *.)

Eat 

If you need just coffee (and pastry)  . . .

  • Abbottsford Road – A nearby Gowanus roastery // 573-577 Sackett Street, Brooklyn
  • Milk Bar – As seen on Netflix’s Chef’s Table (Vol 4, episode 1: Pastry) // 204 6th Ave., Brooklyn
  • My Cuban Spot – Cafecito, cortadito, cafe con leche — no need to say more, except they don’t open until 11am; right across the street from BZC // 488 Carroll Street, Brooklyn
  • Ninth Street Espresso (inside Three’s Brewing) – Good coffee place (nice pastries that they keep out of sight behind the counter), great workspace (if you’re a work-in-the-coffee-shop sort of person), wi-fi // 333 Douglass St., Brooklyn
  • Root Hill Cafe – Nice coffee shop with good breakfast menu: bagels, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt & granola — that sort of thing — wi-fi; on the same block as BZC // 262 4th Ave., Brooklyn
  • Runner & Stone – Lovely place for coffee and house-made pastries — eat in or take with; just around the corner from BZC // 285 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Velvette Brew – Coffee and pastries // 279 5th Ave., Brooklyn

Great places for coffee, breakfast, and lunch — all within short walking distance . . . 

  • Milk Bar (see above) – Pleasant and interesting eggs and brunchy-type things, plus great salads, sandwiches and lunchy-type things // 204 6th Ave., Brooklyn
  • My Cuban Spot – Hole (well, window) in the wall; Cuban-inspired sandwiches; they also have a section on the menu titled “All damn day” (meaning “breakfast food any time”), except they don’t open until 11am (so it’s not really all damn day simpliciter); right across the street from BZC // 488 Carroll Street, Brooklyn
  • Oaxaca Taqueria (Park Slope location) – Mexican take-out or eat-in. // 250 4th Ave., Brooklyn
  • Root Hill Cafe – Coffee shop with good breakfast & lunch menu, wi-fi; not open for dinner // 262 4th Ave., Brooklyn
  • Runner & Stone – Lovely place for coffee, pastries or sit-down lunch // 285 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Taheni – Mediterranean take-out or eat-in // 224 4th Ave., Brooklyn
  • Ninth Street Espresso (inside Three’s Brewing) – Good coffee place (nice pastries that they keep out of sight behind the counter), great workspace (if you’re a work-in-the-coffee-shop sort of person), wi-fi // 333 Douglass St., Brooklyn, NY
  • Whole Foods – You know the one //  214 3rd St. at 3rd Ave., Brooklyn

For dining, with some class . . .

  • Al di la Tratoria – Upscale delicious Italian // 248 5th Ave., Brooklyn (Or check out Al di la’s more intimate next-door cafe/wine bar // 607 Carroll St., Brooklyn)
  • Claro – Michelin-starred Mexican // 284 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Freek’s Mill – Great food, great cocktails, amazing Georgian wine list // 285 Nevins Street, Brooklyn
  • Insa – Funky Korean BBQ // 328 Douglass St., Brooklyn
  • Littleneck – New England-Style seafood shack // 288 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Nargis Bar & Grill – Where else can you find Uzbek cuisine? (Trigger warning: all meat and virtually nothin’ but meat.) // 155 5th Avenue, Brooklyn
  • RoseWater Restaurant – Farm-to-table plates and an awesome biodynamic wine list // 787 Union St. Brooklyn
  • Runner & Stone –  Seasonal farm-to-table menu // 285 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • There are great restaurants all over the place — explore!

For dinner, but less ambitious, quirkier, or a bit grittier (in a good way) . . .

  • Baba’s Pierogies – Who knew?! And it’s just around the corner from BZC // 295 3rd Ave, Brooklyn
  • Ghenet – Ethiopian // 348 Douglass Street, Brooklyn
  • My Cuban Spot – Hole (well, window) in the wall; right across the street from BZC // 488 Carroll Street, Brooklyn
  • Pig Beach – Serious BBQ and patio // 480 Union St., Brooklyn
  • See Oaxaca Taqueria and Taheni (above)
  • Grab something at one of the bars or beer places listed below — e.g., The Meat Hook (in Threes Brewing), Dirty Precious, or Lavender Lake. Most bars in the neighborhood have a decent light food menu

I scream, you scream, we all scream . . .

  • Ample Hills Creamery – Brooklyn’s very own ice cream, with a little Walt Whitman on top. Roof deck! (Sorry, doesn’t open until noon.) // 305 Nevins St. location is closest but also in Prospect Heights (Vanderbilt) and at Brooklyn Bridge Park (see below).
  • Van Leeuwen’s Ice Cream – A little further from BZC, but honest-to-God the best ice cream in the world (imho). // 81 Bergen St. (but also has locations scattered all over Brooklyn and Manhattan — find one near you!)

Drink

Beer in Brooklyn – Sky magazine excerpt

  • Al di la Vino – Upscale Italian restaurant’s next-door wine bar // 607 Carroll St., Brooklyn
  • Dirty Precious – Airy cocktail bar with lite bites; not open at lunchtime. // 317 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Givers and Takers – Nice cocktail bar // 286 3rd Ave. Brooklyn
  • Halyard’s – Great cocktails and bar food // 406 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Lavender Lake – Lovely cocktails and wine, nice food menu as well with good vegetarian and vegan options // 383 Carroll St., Brooklyn
  • Mission Dolores – Astounding tap beer menu; has outdoor space, you can bring in your own food; it’s a gritty, sweet bit of a dive bar // 249 4th Ave., Brooklyn
  • Runner & Stone –  Nice cocktails and wine, lunch and dinner available // 285 3rd Ave., Brooklyn
  • Strong Rope Brewery – A great taproom with hand-crafted ales // 574 President St., Brooklyn
  • Three’s Brewing – Local brewery (check out Beer in Brooklyn – Sky magazine excerpt) with rotating taps and a back garden. Currently featuring The Meat Hook, a trendy carnivorous sandwich pop-up // 333 Douglass St., Brooklyn

Play

Places of interest in the area . . . 

  • Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – Open 8am-6pm Tuesday-Friday, 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday. The gardens are free on Saturdays from 10am-noon. // 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn Museum – Open 11am-6pm Wednesday- Sunday. // 990 Washington Ave., Brooklyn
  • Prospect Park – Brooklyn’s gorgeous “central” park. Walks and more walks.
  • Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s Market – Beautiful Saturday farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza, at the entrance to Prospect Park. Open 8am-4pm
  • Royal Palms Shuffleboard – Shuffleboard for hipsters! A giant shuffleboard and game playing space, featuring trendy cocktails at the bar and various snacks. // 514 Union St., Brooklyn
  • Canoeing on the Gowanus Canal – I kid you not. Take a self-guided canoe trip on the canal, Brooklyn’s coolest superfund site — canoes, life jackets, and minimal instruction provided free of charge (first come, first served). 1pm-5pm on Saturday.
  • Swim in the Gowanus Canal – Now I’m kidding
  • Go for a bike ride – Hop on a Citi Bike and explore: Prospect Park (see above), Brooklyn Bridge Park (see below) — the city is your oyster. There are four nearby Citi Bike stations
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park – Check out Brooklyn’s waterfront and New York Harbor. A beautiful spot for a walk and to spend a few hours. But this one requires a cab, Uber or Lyft, Citi Bike, or the subway
  • * Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • * TimeOut Brooklyn – For more ideas

Local venues that feature music . . .

* And then there’s Manhattan . . . or Staten Island

Enjoy!

[* = too far to walk]