Bushwick, which neighbors Brooklyn's astoundingly popular Williamsburg neighborhood, has a storied past. In the 19th century, it was a vital part of America's beer history and known as the beer capital. By the 1970s, all of the breweries in Bushwick had closed. For a long stretch of time following, this Brooklyn neighborhood was neglected and many of the buildings were shuttered. However, in recent years, Bushwick is experiencing a renaissance. Factory facades have been transformed into canvases for talented street artists and creative types are flocking to the area.
After enjoying the open-air museum of the country’s best street art, stop in the galleries and discover works by emerging artists, or simply browse through bookshops or have a meal at the many restaurants popping up all over the area. Don’t forget to stick around after dark because Bushwick is teeming with artistic haunts from cutting edge theaters to performance spaces.
You can spend the day in the world's best museums in Manhattan, but you should know that the warehouse walls of Bushwick are filled with some of the best art in New York City. Start your street art tour at the Bushwick Collective on Troutman Street at Saint Nicholas Avenue, where the colorful murals are painted on the walls of the neighboring blocks. If you're visiting during the summer, the Bushwick Collective hosts a block party on the first Saturday in June which attracts quite a crowd. However, you can stroll through these few blocks on your own any time of year.
Although this is the stretch of Bushwick known for street art, there are also other notable murals in the Bushwick/East Williamsburg border near the Morgan Avenue stop on the New York City subway's L train line. Stroll through this section of Bushwick, stopping in at Friends NYC on Bogart Street for some vintage threads as well as a great collection of new clothes and jewelry, as you continue you walk through the arty streets of Bushwick.
Shop for Books
In the increasingly digital world, it's refreshing to know that three bookstores that sell used books opened in Bushwick in the past decade. Just a few blocks from the Bushwick Collective is Molasses Books, which evokes a college bookstore vibe. The laid back atmosphere of the bookstore and cafe leaves it the ideal place to pursue the shelves of books. You can also barter for books at this bookstore housed in an old barber shop. To add to the retro appeal, they have a nice selection of pulp classics.
If you're on a budget, be sure to check out the worthwhile selection of one dollar books on two shelves outside the shop. You can easily spend a day reading and sipping coffee or a beer at Molasses. Continue shopping for more new and used books at the incredible Human Relations Bookstore with a selection of new and used literature and non-fiction (they also have two shelves packed with plays). Your final stop is Better Read Than Dead a small cleverly named small local favorite bookstore filled packed to the brims with great reads.
In 2016, Bushwick became home to its first brewery in forty years when the Kings County Brewers Collective opened its spacious taproom. Order one of their smartly named brews including Short Term Goals, Sandcastles, Secret Smoke, Flying Canoe, and others. The brewery is an excellent addition to Bushwick, reviving the once long-gone beer scene. You can have a drink at their spacious location on Troutman Street. If you want to learn more about Bushwick's beer history, consider taking a Bushwick Brewing Tour.
The Bushwick Starr, an Obie-award-winning not-for-profit theater in the heart of Bushwick, has a full season of plays and also hosts a popular reading series, as well as a puppet and poet festival. Since 2007, Bushwick Starr has been the home to emerging artists. The theater's website features up-to-date show listings.
If you don't want to watch theater, but would rather partake in a theatrical and circus-like experience, you must visit the House of Yes, a former ice warehouse, which is now a popular performance space-slash-nightclub. The venue, with aerial acts, packs in a hipster crowd outfitted in funky threads.
Indulge in Some Good Eats
At one time, people only trekked to Bushwick for Roberta's, the legendary pizzeria which is still a staple in the foodie world. However, now the restaurant scene in Bushwick is flourishing, with new restaurants opening each month.
Of course, you should still put Roberta's on your list. The perpetually packed artisanal pizzeria makes some of the best wood-fired pizza. But other perennial favorites in the neighborhood include the French restaurant housed in a former garage, Le Garage, and Faro, a neighborhood favorite that serves handmade pasta made from local grains.
Or head to the new Nigerian-inspired cafe, Chica, which has a menu filled with bar snacks and Nigerian street food. If you're on a budget and want a Mexican dinner for under $10, visit Los Hermanos Tortilleria, where you can watch tortillas being made as you dine on tacos, tostadas, and other Mexican classics. It's cash only, but tacos are only $3 each.
Don't forget to save room for dessert and stop in at Fine & Raw Chocolate factory for a chocolate shake or to pick up a bar of artisanal chocolate. The factory is located near the Morgan Street subway station.
Syndicated serves up a menu of duck confit nachos, porchetta, and the perfect Dark & Stormy cocktail while screening retro flicks. The theater's schedule of films will appeal to all film lovers, with a repertoire of classics mixed with current indie films. If you’ve ever wanted to dine on something more substantial than a soft pretzel or thickly buttered popcorn or wanted to down some booze while watching classics, this is the spot for you.
Go Gallery Hopping
Bushwick is home to a lively population of artists who live and work in the neighborhood's old loft buildings. You can tour the studios at Bushwick Open Studios, which usually takes place in late September. But throughout the year, you can spend a day browsing through Bushwick Galleries.
Just a short walk from themural-lined streets that make up the Bushwick Collective is a stretch of galleries on Willoughby Street. Be sure to stop in Koenig and Clinton, which relocated from West Chelsea to a light and airy gallery along that street. The Microscope Gallery and Stream Gallery are also worth visiting. If you'd like to check out the indie art scene in other parts of Brooklyn, here's a guide on where to see and buy affordable art in Brooklyn.
Have a Drink
Drinkers will delight in the eclectic offerings in Bushwick. For a kitschy night of drinking, consider having a beer at the Bushwick County Club, which has a mini golf course on the property. Or have a cocktail at the stylish The Rookery, where you can drink "the Final Word" and other creatively named drinks while dining on curry vegetable pie from their inventive pub grub menu.