EXPLORE: Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Brooklyn (a.k.a. Hipster Capital of the World), where you find yourself using “gentrified” in sentences and bearded men upon bicycles is the norm.

If you’re visiting New York, it’s worth making your way over to Williamsburg on the L-train (before its potential shut-down for maintenance), for a break from the hustle of the city streets, drinkable coffee and beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline.

I lived there for four months at the end of last year and this is my review of where to go for the best of what!


  • The Blind Barber – lots of beards, great little food menu, cocktails in the evening and a barber out the back for guys.
  • Sweatshop – Australian cafe with a very cool vibe, constantly filled with twenty-somethings on laptops, drinking real flat-whites.
  • Toby’s Estate – great coffee and cold-brew. In the morning, the sun hits it bang-on, so it’s the perfect place to soak up some vitamin-D while listening to your i-phone (like everyone else around you).


  • Five Leaves – try to snag a table for brunch. There will be a wait, so put your name down then wander around the nearby McCarren park.
  • St. Mazie – live music, cute interiors and fairy lights plus a spacious, outdoor backyard.
  • Mast Brothers – designer chocolate bars made from all-sorts of ingredients, including goat’s milk, smoked chocolate, pepper and more.
  • Tiny Empire – fresh juices, smoothies, raw treats and the most addictive Banana Walnut Granola.
  • Sweet Chick –  experience deep-fried chicken and waffles, smothered in maple syrup. Particularly good after you’ve had a few cocktails. It is also located in Manhattan.
  • The Meatball Shop – This was Charlotte’s favourite when she visited! What has become a bit of an institution, it’s basically a very flexible menu with lots of delicious meatballs to choose from and various sides (they do cater for vegetarians too!). It is also located in Manhattan.
  • Caprices by Sophie – beautiful choux pastries in a French-themed cafe.
  • Williamsburg Pizza – Fresh! At a certain early hour, the pizza is $1 per slice. Seriously dangerous but seriously good.
  • OddFellow’s Ice-cream – incredibly edible ice-cream sundaes.
  • Campbell Cheese & Grocery – look past the over-priced groceries to the best cheese toasties in the world – especially on a Sunday when that is exactly what you feel like. My favourite combo was the Fig and Bacon.
  • Pies ‘n’ Thighs – visit for award-winning pies (think sweet and savoury, not your traditional NZ meat pie), “biscuits” (a.k.a. scones) and deep-fried chicken.
  • Dun-well Doughnuts – Try the PB & Jelly.
  • The Station – boozy brunch and a creative-looking french toast (see below).
  • Smorgasborg – every food stall you could imagine! Make sure you have cash and an empty stomach.
  • Cafe Mogador – flavoursome and delightful Moroccan-Israeli food, ideal for a group brunch or dinner.


  • Wythe Hotel – rooftop bar for fancy cocktails at sunset, looking over the East River.
  • Freehold – spacious bar for drinks and a bit of a dance.
  • Radegast Hall & Biergarten – a beer hall full of your classic long, wooden tables, live music and more obviously, lots of beer.
  • Union Pool – as my friend Tessa would describe, “slightly grimy but good for a dance”.
  • The Woods – all your top hits to drop it low to.
  • Output Club – big gigs and dance parties.


  • Brooklyn BodyBurn – head along to this killer exercise class. It is the hardest class I’ve ever done – but very addictive.
  • Williamsburg Bridge – start in the Lower East Side and walk over the rusty-red Williamsburg bridge for some stunning photo ops.
  • East River – there is a walkway by the East river with lots of seating, which makes it a nice place to chill and read a book.
  • McCarren Park – there is a running track and some outdoor exercise equipment.
  • In general, it is a relatively compact space. Wandering up and around the main streets, you can find lots of interesting shops and road-side stalls on the weekends.


Victoria, The Hadlow Girls x

View over the East River
Campbell Cheese and Grocery feat. Frenchie
Tiny Empire parfait, “everybody loves parfait”
J Train in the morning to Manhattan


Charlotte on the Williamsburg Bridge
Me at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, with a view of Williamsburg bridge in the background
Caprices by Sophie
Caprices by Sophie
The most stunning view of Manhattan from the Williamsburg Bridge (no filter!)
Williamsburg Bridge
Live music at St. Mazie
St. Mazie outdoor courtyard
Charlotte and I
French toast at The Station
Williamsburg pastels following the storm
Toby’s Estate for coffee
Williamsburg streets
View from my roof
Dun-well Doughnuts
Lorimer Street at Sunset
Five Leaves
Five Leaves
Campbell Cheese and Grocery cheese toastie
Blind Barber
Blind Barber
Me cruising around on the weekend – I love NY’s blue skies!


2 thoughts on “EXPLORE: Williamsburg

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