New York By Bike In The Spring

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NYC City Guide Page

5 quick places to see / eat / drink:

  • La Slowteria - Amazing tacos and drinks with an outdoor patio, in Carroll Gardens
  • Colonie - Modern American food done right, in Brooklyn
  • Baked - First-rate baked goods and coffee, in Red Hook
  • Fort Defiance - Breakfast lunch and dinner, laid back setting, in Red Hook
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park - Public waterfront space done right, in Brooklyn

We've just returned from a leisurely, unstructured, 4 day trip to launch our NYC City Guide page, and our trip overlapped with both the Bike Expo trade show and the massive 5 Boro Bike Tour. So this week, while the smell of tulips and good pizza are still lingering in my brain, it's going to be a NYC blog.

 A picnic in Brooklyn Heights

A picnic in Brooklyn Heights

New York In the Spring

...is a glorious thing. The morning temperature is "light jacket," but during the day it scooches up into T-Shirt Territory. The trees are a riot of blossoms, and when the wind blows, they rain down on you like you're running out of a wedding chapel. Everyone's got that renewed zest for getting the hell outside. Everything's open. Bright, citrusy pale ales and earthy hefeweizens are so good you'll make your plans around them. Ice cream becomes a serious hobby for roughly 92% of the city's population. So many Brooklyn restaurants and bars have those little hidden, tucked-away courtyard beer gardens out back, too, where you can sit under the trees and see the sky...

 Out back of the Belgian-heavy craft beer bar Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn.

Out back of the Belgian-heavy craft beer bar Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn.

So without further ado, here are some handily-categorized suggestions on where to go, should you find yourself lucky enough to visit NYC soon:

EATS:

Friedman's Lunch - Manhattan. On the dinner menu, they have gluten free waffles and fried chicken. Unfortunately, we were there too early for that, but everything we had was absolutely fantastic. They also stocked the new "Crafted to remove gluten" IPA from Stone, which the Mrs assured me was easily among the best GF IPAs she's had. Good food, and pretty good prices.

Ellary's Greens - Manhattan. An eclectic menu that tends towards the healthier side, with plenty of vegetarian / vegan / gluten free options, but a place that also serves meat, beer, and wine can pretty fairly claim to offer something for everyone.

 Ellary's Greens on a bright, sunny day

Ellary's Greens on a bright, sunny day

Ted & Honey - Brooklyn. A great neighborhood joint with Brunch Food at its core, they also serve breakfast and lunch 7 days a week (and dinner seasonally).

drinks:

The well-known Brooklyn Brewery on Brooklyn's Northside offers $12 tours by reservation, or a free (and popular) tasting room open Fridays from 6-11. If you've never had it, try the Sorachi Ace, which is a modern classic.

If you're after a view, go next door to the brewery and ask to be seated on the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel, where they also serve hors d’oeuvres. The views across to Manhattan are pretty amazing.

 Inside the Wythe Hotel rooftop bar

Inside the Wythe Hotel rooftop bar

The mescal and margaritas kicked Gran Electrica out of the EATS category and into the DRINKS, but it's an academic distinction - they're both fantastic. It's frisbee distance from the Brooklyn Bridge, and gorgeous (if crowded) inside. You can easily eat here multiple times during one visit.

If you're looking for special beers AND an outdoor beer garden, then Spuyten Duyvil is a good choice, in Brooklyn. They have some interesting beers, though the selection isn't staggeringly big. And the choices at the cheaper end of the menu are somewhat limited - this isn't a place to suck down cheap PBRs.  But the beer garden out back is a great, quiet oasis, and there's always something on tap for single digits.

And for your pre-10am drinking needs, may we kindly recommend Crop To Cup, a coffee importer / roaster in Brooklyn, and they know their stuff.

and finally, places to see:

Aside from the Brooklyn Bridge Park mentioned above, and at the risk of being too obvious, you need to see the High Line. It's still expanding, with the latest segment opening soon. Nowhere else can you stroll at your own pace for miles, elevated up above the city, with benches and trees and flowers and gelato.

 The High Line uber alles

The High Line uber alles

At the southwestern tip of Manhattan lies Rockefeller Park, which includes fountains and benches looking out across the water towards the Statue of Liberty. It also includes the Irish Famine Memorial, which has cleverly been created to look like a slice of Irish countryside was gently deposited among the towering Financial District sky scrapers.

 Irish Famine Memorial... look left and right and you'd see sky scrapers.

Irish Famine Memorial... look left and right and you'd see sky scrapers.

If you are in Brooklyn, we strongly recommend seeing the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which is an elevated walk with benches facing lower Manhattan, and looking down on a stretch of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's a magical place at any hour.

 Brooklyn Heights Promenade, dusk.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, dusk.

And finally, (and with much increased risk of being too obvious), we do recommend riding over the Brooklyn Bridge. It requires patience, a calm state of mind, and a good bike bell... the bridge is a walking tourist hot spot - especially on weekends - and in the narrow track alloted to walkers and bikers both, all that separates your bike from the selfie-taking hordes is a faded white stripe of paint. People WILL step out in front of you. Some people will even be walking up the wrong side, oblivious. And those loooong downhills mean you'll be tempted to do 20mph. We humbly suggest you don't, because the risk of a collision is ever-present. The payoff for all that caution is a view you can't find anywhere else... it's stunning up there. And when you realize it opened in 1883, it's difficult not to be a little humbled. You've got to do it... just go on a weekday, and get your expectations right going into it.

 Taking photos while riding on the Brooklyn Bridge is hairy - do not try this at home. I am a trained professional (with good insurance.)

Taking photos while riding on the Brooklyn Bridge is hairy - do not try this at home. I am a trained professional (with good insurance.)