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Reasons to Love New York 2014

27. Because Ridgewood Is the New East Williamsburg

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Clockwise, from top left: The Keep, Songs for Presidents, Bunker, Morscher's, Outpost, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory  

Yes, it’s true: At the Brooklyn-Queens border, there are some new restaurants, bars, and priced-out-of-Williamsburg artists (plus a bunch of 30-unit rentals). This led the New York Times to coin the loathed-by-residents name “Quooklyn” back in June. But, happily, at its core, Ridgewood is still the traditionally Mexican and Eastern European middle-class neighborhood it’s been for the past 30-odd years. Now there are some galleries here, a haute-Vietnamese street-food joint there, but they haven’t supplanted the pork stores with dangling spicy kielbasa in the windows and packed summertime street fairs with Mexican corn and pineapple smoothies. The neighborhood has more than a bunch of solid years left, so please give it some dignity and call it by its real name.


Eat: Goat-Cheese Pizza and Warm Pork Belly
Ridgewood residents all convene at the two-year-old Norma’s (59-02 Catalpa Ave.; 347-294-0185)—a café where 20-somethings putter away on their laptops, kids get cookies after school, and everyone goes for a cup of coffee. Crystal River Williams, who co-owns it with Denise Plowman, offers a tour through the hood’s culinaryscape:

Romantic Dinner
Ltauha (55-50 Myrtle Ave.; 347-689-3462) is very unassuming from the outside. Their flatiron steak with creamy spinach is straight­forward and delicious. Let’s face it, a good steak is sexy.”

Lunchtime Pizza
“If we just want a slice, we’ll go to Rosa’s (6265 Fresh Pond Rd.; 718-497-7672), but for brick-oven pizza, we love Houdini Kitchen Laboratory (1563 Decatur St.; 718-456-3770) just like everyone else in Ridgewood. The spicy habanera with pork and the Houdini Green with goat cheese are hands down our favorites.”

When the Parents are in Town
“We just took Denise’s dad to Bunker (46-63 Metropolitan Ave.; 718-386-4282), which specializes in high-end Vietnamese street food—the hype is well deserved. Try the flounder and the sparkling New York mead from Divinity.”

Pork to Go
“We’re in love with Morscher’s (58-44 Catalpa Ave.; 718-821-1040)—that’s where we get all of our bacon and ham. If you’re lucky enough to walk in when the pork belly is warm from the smoker, get it. Get it!”


Shop: Meander Down Myrtle Avenue
Myrtle Avenue between Wyckoff Avenue and Fresh Pond Road is one of Ridgewood’s main drags, where, during the holidays, locals enjoy 24/7 Christmas carols pumped through outdoor speakers. Sarah Feldman, of listings site Ridgewood Social, gives some highlights.

Towels and T-Shirts
Telco, 58-09 Myrtle Ave.
“This may look like your basic variety store, but it is a mix of housewares as well as clothing. I found this cute dinosaur-print tee for $4. They also sell some dead-stock vintage for cheap.”

Booze
Queens Wines & Liquors, 59-03 71st Ave.
“I love that they have a mariachi band in front playing music during the summertime.”

Craft Supplies
Art Cove, 60-09 Myrtle Ave.
“They have stuff here that you would never find at Michaels, like these wonderful small beaded dolls. They also have good-quality supplies that local artists need.”

Hair Repairs
Europa Unisex Hair Design, 60-46 Myrtle Ave.
“I got my hair cut and colored in Williamsburg, and then I walked into Europa the next day and said, ‘I think I completely destroyed my hair.’ They gave me a deep-hair treatment. They really taught me to take care of my hair.”


Play: From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Ridgewood night owls share their picks for an evening out.

6 to 8 p.m.: “Most galleries here have insanely packed openings on weekends. Head to Valentine (464 Seneca Ave.), run by a founder of the Williamsburg art scene, Fred Valentine—he has a keen eye for female artists. There’s also Outpost (1665 Norman St.) in an old sweatshop, and basement gallery Songs for Presidents (1673 Gates Ave.).” —Colin C. Jorgensen, a.k.a. Cojo “Art Juggernaut,” local artist

8 to 9 p.m.:The Keep (205 Cypress Ave.) is part bar, part curio-filled antique treasure trove. There’s a carousel horse hanging from the ceiling, small dolls hidden everywhere—it’s like drinking in the best hoarder’s basement.” —Emily Heinz, founder of Ridgewood Artists Coalition

9 to 10 p.m.: “Old Stanley’s (226 Wyckoff Ave.) opened a few months ago and is a great place to get a beer, eat a hot dog, and play pinball and darts—standard fun bar stuff.” —Emmy Favilla, ex-bartender and karaoke host

10 p.m. to midnight: “The semi-regular Ridgewood Bar Crawls thrown by Ridgewood Social (follow them on Facebook for details) is a great way to not only drunkenly stumble around Ridgewood with some newly minted locals but also explore many of Ridgewood’s older, often overlooked bars, such as Paradise (678 Woodward Ave.), which has a foosball table, and the classic dive bar the Windjammer (552 Grandview Ave.).” —Jorgensen

Midnight to 2 a.m.: “There are a lot of reasons people like seeing shows at Trans-Pecos (9-15 Wyckoff Ave.): The sound is good, it’s close to the L and the M, and the staff aren’t total jerks. More than 15 curatorial entities put on concerts there, which is incredibly rare.” —Ric Leichtung, former 285 Kent booker and founder of adhoc.fm

2 to 6 a.m.:Gottscheer Hall (657 Fairview Ave.), a sort of no-frills traditional German bar, has become an increasingly more popular after-party spot for artists.” —Favilla

6 a.m.: “This is when the many bakeries open. For a post-party doughnut, head to Rudy’s Bakery & Café (905 Seneca Ave.), a Ridgewood staple since 1934.” —Heinz


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