The final stops in my frugal summertime trips to Williamsburg had their own distinctive points.
The coffee and the oat pastry I had at And/Or (561 Lorimer Street, 646-284-0268) were decent, but the ambiance was the principle strength of this café. This downstairs delight is a perfect spot to grab a cozy seat and go analog, journaling as you enjoy people watching the above foot traffic.
If you don’t mind paying cash ---and a little more than you would expect--- (though you will be pleased to discover you get a lot more smile and a lot less of that affected stare that is tragically de rigueur in these parts) there is always Atlas (116 Havermeyer Street, 718-782-7470). The sumptuously smoky flavor profile of the espresso drink is as memorable as it is unique.
Last but certainly not least: the café that cemented itself in my mind as the best coffee to be had in Williamsburg during all of my summer sojourns was no other than Oslo Coffee Roasters (133 Roebling Street , 718-782-0332). They’ve been a fixture in the neighborhood since the early 2000’s, and for good reason. In the swath of cleverly branded competitors and slick settings, Oslo Coffee Roasters is tried and true. Whatever house brew I had was truly exceptional, as was the blueberry pumpkin muffin that accompanied it. It was not only the caffeine, but the remarkable flavors that helped these bleary eyes broaden after a 4:00am pitch black wakeup. Next time I’m in this neck of the woods and need some Joe, I’m saving the experiments and heading straight here.
While Wednesday’s downpour temporarily halted my excessive caffeine consumption, here are some of the places that piqued my interest the past couple of weeks:
The West (Hope x Union Sts, 718-599-1704). Truthfully, this was not a first-time visit. You pretty much can’t go wrong with the coffee or the avocado toast here. It’s a cozy and popular hangout that captures the spirit of the neighborhood. In the colder months, be sure to give the Maple Chai a try--- it’s sweet but delightfully so.
The self-dubbed most westerly equivalent to Montauk, The End (522 Metropolitan Ave., 347-987-3954) is the original source for “lattes” of magical proportions. (I say “lattes” because the famed Unicorn and Mermaid drinks don’t contain espresso at all--- they are all herbal/juice concoctions). While these beverages are more of an acquired taste (not the sort that would make for an appropriate “gateway” drink to the world of clean eating and juicing), they also carry straight-up juices that are very accessible, like the perky and refreshing Liquid Sunshine. Coffee is excellent and the nut, whole grain, and plant-based energy balls are solidly toddler-approved.
If Amy March from Little Women claimed butter to be divinity, she would have had no trouble devouring the fig, coconut and pecan bar alongside a responsibly-sourced beverage from Think Coffee (10 Devoe St., 212-255-6452) and claiming a full heavenly consort was present. There’s a reason this otherwise unassuming little breakfast treat won a ribbon at the county fair. After getting a bar for myself one week, I came back the next for the express purpose of making sure my husband, kid and parents could partake. (Insert fawning). The vegan chai muffin also turned out to be utterly delightful. Think’s selection of ethical coffees is impressive, challenging us all to be better consumers in the process.
While taking advantage of the weather one week, I was able to stop by Little King Coffee Counter (749 Metropolitan Ave., 917-947-9965) whose friendly sign greets commuters as they hop on and off the L train. Latte was smooth and delicate, while the chocolate croissant had a surprising complexity: flaky goodness met with a hint of unexpected (but pleasant) bitterness.
Charter Coffee House (309 Graham Ave., 347-721-3735) was an accidental discovery while heading towards Lorimer St. The coffee had more of a winy, young cherry profile. If you like that quality, this is your place. The financiers were the unsung heroes: the coconut was earnestly so, with bits inside, while the pistachio best captured the anise-like side to the nut.
There’s nothing like a change in seasons to serve as a catalytic kick in the pants to one’s routine, but who am I kidding? As I stumble eagerly to my car at the crack of dawn, the sky pitch-black, the air thick with the song of robins and the hum of insects (whose identity has evaded me since childhood), I know that truthfully this was a long time in the making.
In the time since folding my old blog, my life is at once the same and drastically altered. I’ve become a parent, taken on personal and professional opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, gotten to know amazing people, and cemented a life in this place not simply as a happy observer but an engaged participant. I may never be the next Walt Whitman or host a show on the Travel Channel, but if I write something that resonates with another person or inspires someone to try something new locally, then this little blog has served its purpose.
But I digress… back to 4:15 am and bleary-eyed amongst nature’s sound effects in Suffolk County, it’s time to start what will be part of this summer’s rhythm: a quiet morning and exercise routine. In this case, my travels will take me on a regular basis to Williamsburg. After cobbling together time to do some informal research, I’ve put together something that will take me throughout the Island and allow me be home before my family get up for the day. (Another perk of summer’s pace and summer’s weather… this is a big part of why I find the change of seasons and routines welcome.)
With charming neighborhoods known for their beloved coffee shops, I’ve decided to explore as many as possible during my summertime sojourns. After morning exercise, The Hungry Ghost (721 Metropolitan Ave, 917-909-1918) pulls me in with its name (and wins me over with its proximity to the BQE). The slick, communal layout beckons customers to linger and converse, but today’s stop is one of immediacy, purely for refueling purposes. Latte is fair, service is fast to accommodate the start of the morning rush, and almond croissant is exceptional--- rewardingly airy and flaky.
So while this blog will focus primarily on life further east ---the beaches, water, wine country, farmland, and quaint micro-cultures that have captured my heart and imagination--- who can forget that two formidable boroughs lay claim to the westerly start of geographic Long Island? If Montauk is “The End”, then surely Brooklyn and Queens are “The Beginning”.
I’m also looking forward to “beginning” this new blogging journey with you.
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