Crown Heights has been my neighborhood home since 2015, and even in that short time, I’ve seen it drastically change: Tattoo parlors have emerged. A now-closed bar opened to righteous controversy. The spot where I get my coffee every morning is next door to a lovely, minimal sushi restaurant, opened without fanfare or pretense.
From a 2019 vantage point, here are some of the can’t-miss spots in the area.
715 Nostrand Ave.
This new queer-owned coffee shop offers veggie frittata sandwiches, waffles, salads, toasts and everything else one might need from a neighborhood spot.
781 Franklin Ave.
Everyone in New York City has their favorite pizza place, and Barboncino is mine. The dim lighting, easygoing wine list, perfectly chewy crust and casually excellent service makes it a weekly go-to that should be discussed among the city’s best Neapolitan joints.
Cafe Rue Dix
1451 Bedford Ave.
For French-Senegalese cuisine with true spice as well as a spot that’s open for breakfast before 9 a.m. every day (such a rarity), Cafe Rue Dix is incomparable. Be prepared for a full-on halt of service when it’s someone’s birthday—and to get clapping yourself—and a ridiculously good soundtrack of French-language hip-hop.
759 Nostrand Ave.
The word “serene” comes to mind when I consider Colina Cuervo, a mainstay on Nostrand for some of the best avocado toast around, filling salads, and pancakes with dulce de leche butter, if that’s the mood. There’s a calm here always, no matter how many folks are on their laptops. An array of housemade pastries also fill the case, for a nice to-go treat with coffee.
1077 Bergen St.
There’s no Wi-Fi here, but that doesn’t stop many people from filling up the few seats in the Bergen Street coffee shop, which has a changing selection of sandwiches made in the back kitchen to order. Every barista will quickly learn regulars’ orders, giving the simple act of getting one’s daily coffee a community vibe.
764 Nostrand Ave.
No list of where to eat in Crown Heights can be complete without Gloria’s, a Caribbean staple where the doubles are always on point. Here one can also get their dose of roti, fried plantains, oxtail stew and other West Indian dishes.
747 Franklin Ave.
The new all-day café and bar from Claire Sprouse offers a dreamy menu of tiny, well-priced plates for sharing as well as big entrées for the hungrier guests. Cocktails are on point, fresh and vegetal, the soundtrack is everything someone in their 30s wants to hear, and the vibe is—excuse my corniness—hunky dory.
688 Franklin Ave.
The go-to for a $1 oyster happy hour in the neighborhood, where the French fries are impeccably crisp and the pastas are shockingly tasty for a spot that doesn’t specialize in Italian cuisine. The patty melt, fried chicken sandwich and doughnuts are also not to be missed.
1075 Bergen St.
Right next to Cotton Bean is this unassuming sushi spot that’s only open for dinner. While there are many Japanese spots for takeout in the neighborhood, Uotora invites a longer exchange, with à la carte options for sushi and sashimi, as well as rolls, grilled cod marinated in miso, and understated starters like spinach gomaae, the greens blanched and served with sesame dressing.