24 Hours in Williamsburg

by  Lucie Young

“Manhattan is so 5 minutes ago,” boasts a poster outside the Williamsburg subway station. Williamsburg, or ‘Billyburg as locals call it, is the very hottest corner of New York’s very hottest borough, Brooklyn.  It is the ultimate go-to place for the city’s young hipsters, with a too-cool-for-school food and nightlife scene, and proper cutting-edge shops.

We love the hanky-sized restaurants (your salad was probably grown on the roof) and the innovative bars where new cocktails like the minty, coconutty Brancolada send heads spinning. Step further afield for other happening neighbourhoods like Green Point (where Girls is set), Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street (also referred to as Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens), and rough diamond Bushwick (sometimes called East Williamsburg), home to New York’s most exciting new restaurant, Blanca.

Stay at the Wythe Hotel (00 1 718 460 8000; http://www.wythehotel.com), set in an ex-factory with pared-back bare-brick rooms, a hopping rooftop bar scene and whacking views of Manhattan. Downstairs, the excellent Reynard restaurant is the latest hit by Billyburg restaurateur Andrew Tarlow (Marlow and Sons, Diner).

You’ll be rising late, of course, so head for a grazing brunch at Smorgasburg (www.smorgasburg.com), with 50-plus riverside stalls stocked with Brooklyn’s famed farm-to-table fare. Check out Mile End (pastrami), Porchetta (pork), Anarchy in a Jar (jam), Lumpia Shack (Filipino treats) and the oodles of cupcakes and local brews. Held every Saturday from April to November.

Time to shop, but relax – nothing opens before midday. Wythe, Berry, Metropolitan and Bedford are the 4 best shopping streets in Williamsburg with treasures dotted along side streets. Spiff up your wardrobe with vintage glam at Beacon’s Closet (www.beaconscloset.com).  Need new hipster jeans? Pop into Brooklyn Denim Co (www.brooklyndenimco.com), for edgy US brands and local labels Williamsburg Garment Co, DL1961 and Spiewak.  Hollander and Lexer’s elegantly dishevelled mens and womenswear is handmade in Brooklyn and showcased in two Mrs Haversham-ish stores that sit side by side. Want a peak at the in crowd’s living room?  Browse the furniture and tchotchkes at The Future Perfect (www.shop.thefutureperfect.com).  And if your vanilla music taste needs a lift, check out Sound Fix Records (www.soundfixrecords.com).

Don’t shop until you flop. Refuel at some of the city’s best nibbling spots. Lavender shortcake anyone? Bakeri (www.bakeribrooklyn.com) is Brooklyn’s cutest teashop.  Coffee fix plus tea, cakes, croissants and sandwiches at Toby’s Estate (126 N6th St @ Berry) or melt over the chocolates at Mast Brothers (www.mastbrothers.com).

Brooklyn is foodie paradise. Don’t miss out on the fun. Bag a chair at 12 seat restaurant of the moment Blanca’s (www.blancanyc.com) by calling on the first of the month ONLY.  Local chef Carlo Mirarchi’s 27 course tasting menu is the toast of NY.  No res?   Try Mirarchi and partners artisanal pizza joint (and celeb fave) Roberta’s (www.robertaspizza.com) at the same address.

If you want film noir atmosphere with farm to table cuisine check out 2 spots under the Williamsburg Bridge.  Marlow and Sons (www.marlowandsons.com) tucked behind a grocery store, offers a small selection of seasonal mains.  Standing room only? Try sister restaurant Diner (www.dinernyc.com) next door.  Deco inflected hot new bar Donna (www.donnabklyn.com) is just a few doors down and open til the wee hours.

Too tired to talk? Munch through the movies at the Nitehawk Cinema (www.nitehawkcinema.com), where a waitress can bring you anything from a martini and fish tacos to a coffee and bowl of spicy popcorn.

Ready to rock and bowl?  Brooklyn Bowl (www.brooklynbowl.com) is the all-in-one happening. Get dancing, bowling and blown away by the bands at this bowling alley cum nightclub.  The monthly Soul Clap and Dance off with dj Jonathan Toubin is one of the best night’s in the city.

As you teeter back to the Wythe, check out all the poor saps making their way back to Manhattan. Now that’s what you call the bridge and tunnel crowd.

© 2013