The ultimate Brooklyn cool girl, Liz Power founded Awoke Vintage in 2006 in her native Perth, Australia. Five years later, the store upgraded to its Williamsburg digs and later expanded to neighboring Greenpoint and elsewhere in the city. In addition to selling summery blouses, dresses, and accessories, Power’s stores also sell curated collections of vintage denim. If you see a chic girl rocking high-waisted Levi’s, it’s very likely they came from Awoke. With Power having her finger on all that’s cool in Brooklyn, we asked her to round-up a few of her favorite spots throughout Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
Described by Power as “cheap ‘n’ cheerful,” La Goulette serves an amazing falafel sandwich along with other Tunisian favorites like shawarma and babaganoush. A mother-son team back the casual restaurant, which remains one of the last spots in the neighborhood for a filling, less-than-$10 lunch.
Five Leaves was one of the first (and best) modern American restaurants in the area and is still one of Power’s favorite brunch and dinner spots. Situated right next to Awoke’s Bedford Avenue location, Five Leaves’ chef Warren Baird serves classic dishes with quirky takes like crispy black rice topped with a fried duck egg, fermented radish, spicy mayo, and pickled vegetables.
Tuxedo-clad servers dish up massive plates of chicken parm and spaghetti and meatballs at Bamonte’s, a 100-year-old Italian institution in the neighborhood. “Save room for dessert. The lemon sorbet comes served in an actual lemon and is the best palate cleanser for all that garlic,” says Power of the quirky old-school spot, which is great for a night out with friends.
Uva Wine & Spirits
Power’s favorite wine store, Uva has been in the neighborhood for more than 15 years. The shop focuses on natural and organic wines, with a large selection of international producers as well as up-and-coming winemakers from New York’s Finger Lakes region. Their Saturday afternoon tastings are a great way to discover new things — Power’s current favorite is a funky Greek orange wine.
The Commodore is a fun neighborhood bar with a thorough menu of frozen cocktails (try the eponymous cocktail, a heady piña colada with an amaretto float) and a lauded fried chicken sandwich, that’s “spectacular after a few frozen margaritas,” says Power. The whole place gets pretty rowdy after 10 p.m., making for a fun night out. If you send them a postcard, they return the favor with a free beer!
Aurora Hardware & Locksmith
While Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue has largely been overtaken by giant chains like Whole Foods and Apple, a few mom-and-pop stores have thrived along the busy thoroughfare. A hardware store may seem like an unlikely recommendation for a visitor, but “they have everything, and they’ve really saved me in a pinch,” says Power, and popping in to the postage-stamp sized store offers a unique slice of New York City life.
It may seem like a nondescript pharmacy from its exterior, but Northside Pharmacy is a long-standing, family-run business that happens to be on the cutting-edge of beauty products. “I find beauty stuff so intimidating, so I always go there before I go anywhere else,” says Power. The helpful staff makes great recommendations, she adds.
New York’s classic go-to for hardcore thrifters, Beacon’s Closet’s is loaded with clothing of every size, shape, color, and style. Not surprisingly, the resale shop is a popular destination for Power’s customers. “‘Where is Beacon’s Closet?’ is our most-asked question in the store,” Power says, with a laugh. “If you go, set aside a couple hours and be in the right mindset.”
Concrete + Water
If you’re looking for an authentic “Made in New York” gift, Concrete + Water is your place. The boutique stocks local designers like Whit NY, Susan Alexandra, and Lucky Horse Press, and other “great little gifting things,” according to Power. Don’t miss the sales in the cute backyard!
“It’s so great for people-watching,” says Power of McCarren Park, a 35-acre respite between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. “There’s always crazy stuff going on there and it’s nice to have a little breather from the concrete.” In the summer, the park hosts open-air movie screenings and community roller-skating parties.
Sew Top Cleaners
Address100 Berry St, Brooklyn, NY 11249-2822, USA
In dealing with vintage duds, no one knows more about alterations than Power and that’s why she trusts Sew Top Cleaners with all of their work. Whether you’re a local looking for a dress alteration or visitor desperately in need of zipper repair, Power touts the small store for its affordable prices and thorough service. “They have you try everything on first, and will fix it for free until it’s right,” she explains.
The Lot Radio
A visit to Williamsburg wouldn’t be complete without music. Power is a huge fan of British import Rough Trade Records, which opened an outpost off of Wythe Avenue a few years ago, but when friends want to hear music, she takes them to The Lot. A non-profit radio station tucked away on a lot (duh!) off of Nassau Avenue, The Lot plays live DJ sets multiple times per week. “It’s like being in a friend’s backyard but Four Tet is DJing,” says Power.
“Whenever friends stay in New York, I always recommend staying in Brooklyn,” Power explains. “You get more bang for buck versus staying in a shoebox in Manhattan.” Luckily, visitors to the neighborhood are no longer starved for options — Williamsburg’s seen a huge influx of new hotels in the past few years and the newest on the scene is The Hoxton. The European import has refined rooms, a sunny rooftop bar with beautiful views of Manhattan, and a sprawling lobby where neighborhood creatives flock to work during the day.
Described by devoted fans as a "treasure trove," Power's Awoke Vintage stocks highly-curated retro finds, ranging from jumpsuits to jeans, as well as new accessories and jewelry. The collection of vintage Levi's draws devotees from far and wide and Power's curatorial eye means that you won't have to spend hours digging for a piece that's made just for you. There are three locations — one on North 5th Street in Williamsburg, and two along Bedford and Manhattan Avenues, respectively.