October 30, 2017

Bushwick, Brooklyn's Hip Art, Food, Shopping, and Bar Scene

For the last few years, Williamsburg's grittier neighbor, Bushwick, has been stealing the hip, artsy limelight.

by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad

Bushwick Murals in Brooklyn
Danielle Mastrion, a New York City-based painter and muralist, has created murals both locally and internationally, including this image of Biggie Smalls for The Bushwick Collective.
Dancers sculptures by Puerto Rican artist Hector-Arce Espasas.
Dancers sculptures by Puerto Rican artist Hector-Arce Espasas.

For the last few years, Williamsburg's grittier neighbor, Bushwick, has been stealing the hip, artsy limelight. Second to none in terms of street art, the neighborhood continues to gain favor with both emerging and established artists, galleries, filmmakers, and even fashion designers. Alexander Wang recently solidified the area's cool factor by holding his New York Fashion Week SS18 runway show, his third, and after party (#wangfest) in Bushwick, with a full line-up of performers including Asap Ferg, Vince Staples, and Ashanti.

While the neighborhood—lined with warehouses-turned-artist studios and empty industrial buildings—can still be pretty desolate at night, the fast and furious arrival of artisanal coffee shops, high-end eateries, vintage shops, bars, and galleries makes local artists at once delighted, and wary of rising costs.

Bushwick, Brooklyn
Left and right: The scene outside Swallow Cafe; Other Times Vintage shop on Bogart Street.

GETTING THERE: Bushwick's sprawling borders are defined by Flushing Avenue, Broadway, Ridgewood, Queens, and the Evergreens Cemetery. While there are a variety of ways to get to the neighborhood, a few of the more popular stops include the L train to the Morgan, Jefferson, Dekalb, and Myrtle/Wyckoff Avenues stations, and the M train to Knickerbocker.

Luhring Augustine
Michelangelo Pistoletto, The Minus Objects 1965-1966, Installation view. December 18, 2013 – May 11, 2014; Luhring Augustine Bushwick, New York; Photo: Farzad Owrang. © Michelangelo Pistoletto; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Galleria Christian Stein, Milan.
Artist Sebastian Vallejo
Asesinado Por el Cielo by artist Sebastian Vallejo.

THE ART SCENE: Joe Ficalora, founder of the Bushwick Collective, began a quest in 2012 to fill the neighborhood's walls with murals by artists from all over the world. The project has been so successful that it has drawn the likes of Billy Mode and Chris Stein, ISMO, Sipros, and so many more. On the flip side, it attracted the inevitable war with companies willing to pay top dollar to cover prime mural space with billboards. Who will win remains to be seen. In the meantime, galleries abound and the annual Bushwick Open Studios continues to flourish. Some of the galleries to visit include: Storefront Ten Eyck, Slag Gallery, Momenta Art, Signal, The Chimney, NURTUREart, Microscope Gallery, Clearing, Interstate Projects, and Fresh Window. When blue-chip gallery Luhring Augustine opened a location in Bushwick in 2012 aimed at housing large-scale installations and long-term projects—the move signified a nod to the relevance and impact of the Bushwick art scene. Koenig & Clinton followed suit this year, with gallery owner Koenig also adding a new project space called Century Pictures.

Chef Kevin Adey of Faro Brooklyn
Chef Kevin Adey of Michelin-starred Faro restaurant; Faro's Winter porridge. Photographs (left and right) by Michael Tulipan and Bradley Hawks.
Bushwick Chocolate Factory
Fine & Raw’s Chocolate Factory.

GOOD EATS: Bushwick's culinary punch is a knockout. Roberta's has drawn crowds to the neighborhood since 2008. Don't let the restaurant's laidback vibe deter you, the justifiably famous wood-fired pizzas (and the rest of the menu), are divine and mostly made with ingredients from the restaurant's rooftop garden. Chef Carlo Mirarchi opened up a sister restaurant behind Roberta's, called Blanca, highly-sought-after for its delicious tasting menus. In 2015, Chef Kevin Adey, Debbie Adey, and Daniel Blumberg opened Faro—a seasonal New American restaurant focused on homemade pastas and sustainable local seafood that drew crowds the moment it opened. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017. For authentic Puerto Rican food in a casual setting head to Norwinds. Other favorites include Fitzcarraldo, Guadalupe Inn, Sincerely Burger, and Momo Sushi Shack.

Pearl's Social & Billy Club
Pearl's Social & Billy Club.

IMBIBE: Bushwick has bars aplenty, but some of our favorites include Idlewild, The Narrows, Pearl's Social and Billy Club, The Rookery, and The Johnson's. For New Orleans-style cuisine with a cocktail head to Heavy Woods. Montana's Trail House, in a former auto repair shop, offers comfort fare and views of the murals covering Bushwick's five-point intersection. Enjoy BBQ at Arrogant Swine, a lively beer hall with over 40 craft bottle beers. For a true Bushwick nightlife experience, drop in at House of Yes. Once an old ice warehouse, the event space now holds burlesque shows, aerial performances, all-night dance parties and so much more.

TRIVIA: Bushwick was once one of the country's largest beer-making centers thanks to a large influx of German immigrants in the mid-19th century. Now more than forty years after the last original brewery closed, Kings County Brewing Collective (KCBC) opened its doors on Troutman Street.

Worship Bushwick
Worship vintage boutique on Wilson Avenue.

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