Travel Spotlight

Neighborhood Guide: Brooklyn Heights

Indagare editorial director Annie Fitzsimmons shares her guide to one of New York’s quiet stars: Brooklyn Heights.

Since 2008, I have been a licensed New York City tour guide after passing the 150-question test administered by the city. For a few years, I led walking tours of Brooklyn Heights, my home when I lived in New York. (I am now in London.) Now, it’s a celebrity favorite–Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Keri Russell, among many others, all have apartments here.

Brooklyn Heights developed along the waterfront in the early 19th century as America’s first true suburb, a residential enclave connected to Lower Manhattan via ferry. In 1883—the same year the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team was founded—the Brooklyn Bridge was finished. What followed was the rapid development of the entire City of Brooklyn, as well as the consolidation of the five boroughs and New York becoming one city—Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx together. As developers moved elsewhere to build up the rest of Brooklyn, the “Heights” was left mostly undisturbed. Adding to its immense brownstone charm, out of about 1,100 original houses in the neighborhood, more than 600 were built before 1860.

The heart of the neighborhood is the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (above), and strolling it is one of New York’s most memorable experiences. Gazing out over leafy Brooklyn Bridge Park and across the East River, you can see the Statue of Liberty, all of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Midtown skyline.

Montague Street is the main street of Brooklyn Heights and has undergone a renaissance of sorts over the last few years. It’s still not as “cute” as Court Street in Cobble Hill (I have yet to see a customer in Mattress Firm on Montague), but those who live here have a soft spot for it, and it resembles a shorter Newbury Street in Boston, albeit without a Chanel store.

The other main thoroughfare for Brooklyn Heights residents is Atlantic Avenue, which ends at Brooklyn Bridge Park but actually stretches more than ten miles into Brooklyn. The section in Brooklyn Heights (which divides the neighborhood from Cobble Hill, to the south) has experienced a renaissance of its own recently, with buzzy restaurants and bars, plus a surprisingly beautiful new Barnes & Noble replacing the Barneys that closed.

Below, I’m sharing a guide of my favorite spots to check out while in the neighborhood, as well as insider recommendations from Indagare’s Peter Schlesinger, who lives in Brooklyn Heights.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to New York City. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.

EAT

Lunch & Dinner

FINE DINING
The River Café

: One of New York’s iconic restaurants, and the views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan are magical. I like it better during the day for lunch or brunch on Sunday for the best views. 1 Water Street

Clover Hill: An intimate, Michelin-starred fine dining spot on quiet Columbia Place. Chef Charlie Mitchell is the first Black chef in New York City to earn a Michelin star. 20 Columbia Place

LAID BACK, BUT REFINED

 

Colonie

: A local favorite for inventive, farm-fresh New American cuisine. Sit at the chef’s counter, and stay for the sticky date cake dessert. (There’s a good chance of seeing some of the neighborhood’s A-list locals having a meal here with their families.) 127 Atlantic Avenue

Felice Brooklyn Heights: Italian mainstays from the same group behind Sant Ambroeus. 84 Montague Street

Chama Mama: Georgian cuisine and wines in a friendly atmosphere. 121 Montague Street

River Deli: A cozy corner Sardinian restaurant that kept its old name from when it was actually a deli. Fun to sit at the bar and drink wine or cocktails. 32 Joralemon Street

Pips: A natural wine and cocktail bar, always with a well-curated selection of interesting bottles from around the world, plus lite seasonal bites and a couple larger plates that make a great meal. 129 Atlantic Avenue

Ingas Bar: Chef Sean Rembold’s (previously at Diner and Marlow & Sons) take on a tavern, with warm lighting, warm service and warming food. The burger is popular, although the changing menus have fun surprises that don’t stick to any particular cuisine—pastas, fish, soups, etc.—but always deliver. 66 Hicks Street

Al Badawi: This Middle Eastern restaurant, which has received a lot of press since opening in 2021, serves heaping clay bowls of traditional regional dishes, many featuring rice and various slow-cooked meats and vegetables. 151 Atlantic Avenue

Pilot: From the same group behind Grand Banks, Pilot is another oyster-bar-at-sea, onboard a century-old, 147-foot sailboat docked in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Note that it’s only open seasonally.

NO FRILLS

Noodle Pudding: On a cold winter's night, you can’t beat the warm, busy vibe of red-sauce Italian (the chef is from Ischia, off the coast of Naples) at Noodle Pudding. No reservations, no obvious sign and no credit cards. 38 Henry Street

Hanco’s: I love this Vietnamese spot for the shredded chicken banh mi and bubble tea. 147 Montague Street

Sweets & Snacks

Cloudy Donuts

: This vegan donut shop a block in from the water makes a great stop along the way to or from Brooklyn Bridge Park. 14 Columbia Place

Poppy’s: A longtime favorite from nearby Cobble Hill, Poppy’s expanded to Brooklyn Heights in November 2023 with a café and market that sells sandwiches, pastries and high-quality pre-made salads, soups and other goodies (plus an assortment of kitchen goods and foodstuffs). 48 Henry Street

A Note on L'Appartement 4F: Yes, this croissant shop is Instagram-famous, and many non-Brooklyn Heights residents will mention it as a “must-try.” But if there is a line (there usually is), feel free to move along. Its iteration of the buttery pastry is not worth the hype. 115 Montague Street

SHOP

MONTAGUE STREET

Books Are Magic

: The second location of the idyllic bookshop owned by author Emma Straub. 122 Montague Street

City Chemist: It feels like a small-town pharmacy (it’s an NYC and Hamptons chain), with high-end beauty products. 129 Montague Street

Tango: A women’s clothing shop first opened in 1970. 145 Montague Street

ATLANTIC AVENUE

 

Sahadi’s: This famous and beloved specialty food store on Atlantic Avenue has been open since 1895 and specializes in Middle Eastern ingredients and bulk bins of nuts, dried fruit, olives and spices. 187 Atlantic Avenue

Antik: A home furnishings store with beautiful pieces, ranging from contemporary sofas to antiques from centuries past and countries near and far. 89 Atlantic Avenue

Salter House: A home goods and women’s clothing store seemingly from another time. Straw brooms, cotton nightgowns with puffed sleeves, wooden kitchen utensils…As The Cut writes, “to enter is to imagine plastic was never invented.” 119 Atlantic Avenue

Sarajo: A small boutique (which originaly opened in SoHo in the ’80s but moved to Brooklyn Heights in 2023) selling antique textiles, including clothing and home decor from around the world. 107 Atlantic Avenue

SEE

Brooklyn Bridge Park: If you're in Brooklyn Heights, walk down cobblestoned Joralemon Street (past River Deli, mentioned above) to Brooklyn Bridge Park, a former industrial wasteland turned into one of the city’s most beautifully landscaped parks. Piers alternate activity level: some are home to athletic fields, basketball courts or beach volleyball nets; others to quiet groves surrounded by native wildflowers and trees. All come with fabulous waterfront views.

Crossing the Bridges: At 1.25 miles, a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York's most iconic walks. The city finally separated the bike and walk lanes in 2021 so it feels less treacherous to walk across it now but try to go early to avoid the crowds snapping multiple selfies and blocking the pathways. You can always walk the Manhattan Bridge (and get dumplings in Chinatown), which is much less crowded and you have an incredible view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

STAY

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

: An industrial-chic resort set within Brooklyn Bridge Park, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge’s steel, concrete and glass are a notable contrast to the brick townhouses of Brooklyn Heights. Its rooftop (and guests-only rooftop pool) make it extra popular in the summer, helping it become one of Indagare’s most-booked hotels in New York City (and the most-booked property in Brooklyn).

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to New York City. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.

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