Waterfront walk and cobblestone streets. DUMBO, you sure did impress us.
One fine Saturday a few weeks back we made a trip to DUMBO. No child, rested, sunshine, sandals and short sleeve t-shirts (finally). In our minds we had coffee, care-free wandering, uninterrupted conversations and a cold beer in the afternoon. All that parents of a 2 year old don’t get as often! Pretty wonderful.
Even though you can get to DUMBO quite easily from Manhattan by public transport – subway lines A, C or F will take you right there – we decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn’t the first for either of us, but first time together! So despite a hot and busy summer day (the bridge gets packed, so get your patience hat on), the idea of crossing the bridge without our toddler in a buggy (aka stroller) was more appealing then than ever!
A few facts about DUMBO:
- The acronym stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
- DUMBO was originally a ferry landing, with plenty of impressive and grand industrial and warehouse buildings.
- The area began to become primarily residential only around late ’70s. It got popular and desired because of large, spacious loft apartments and cobbled streets with character. Wanted by artists and bohemian crowd, later it made DUMBO art/ gallery centre and one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in New York.
- The name actually was invented by the new residents of DUMBO around 1978. As much as the name sounds pretty trendy today, back then, it was supposed to be unattractive and uncool. The goal was to put off any potential developers interested in the area. As one of the residents of DUMBO (Crane Davis) back then said: ‘After much sitting around and drinking beer, to a point where none of us could remember who had suggested what, we came up with…[…]’ . Here is the full story with some interesting facts, if you want to know more.
- From art focused area, in the last 20 or so years it shifted its focus to tech startups. It is a serious hub for all the ‘cool’ dudes and companies in NYC right now (you would know some of the companies, like MBG or Etsy).
We are pretty easily pleased most of the days and especially during toddler-free time! We had a few goals in mind: coffee, some photos, food, walking, chilling, more coffee, cold alcoholic beverage (or 2) at the end of it. Some of the goals were a success! Here are our highlights of the day and a few photos.
Things to do:
- Coffee – if have at least a little passion and respect for a good brew, please don’t go to the first Starbucks you’ll see. You deserve better than that. Great spot to check out is Brooklyn Roasting Company. They have actually 3 (greedy?) spots in DUMBO, but the one you should visit is on 25 Jay Street. That’s where their roastery and coffee lab (so mysterious) are. Their unique style, artsy vibe and genuine love for fair-trade coffee are visible as soon as you walk through the door!
- Food – we actually didn’t end up eating in DUMBO. Haha. The timings were off and we stuffed ourselves with coffee and brownies too quickly. But, the two spots that I’ve been recommended and would love to try out next time are Atrium and Juliana’s Pizza.
Atrium seems to have a delicious French inspired menu with classic like fish and chips, salads, sandwiches and whole lot of eggy options for brunch. They pride themselves in great selection of wine and craft beers also (always a plus!). What I like is that you can make a reservation in advance, online – if you know New York City, you know where my excitement comes from!
Juliana’s Pizza – what should I say, it’s pizza! But apparently bloody tasty and worth queueing up for (no reservations, though). You can sit down or ask for take away and head over to sit on the waterfront. Can’t go wrong with that. (PS- they are closed every day 3:30-4pm, to take a breath in and take care of the precious coal ovens).
- Walk – definitely walk the waterfront, so around John’s St/ Plymouth St and walk between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges (Google maps sure will help). You will see the river and some parks/ green areas on your left; pretty lovely. I was surprised how peaceful and fairly quiet it was there on a Saturday. Cobblestone streets, quickly buildings and little unique shops also stole my heart, so go ahead and just wander around Front St/ Water St/ Old Fulton St areas.
- Drink – before we ran off to continue our Saturday in Williamsburg (yes, we did it again) we sneaked in a sneaky cold beer at Pedro’s (73 Jay St), which is an unpretentious Mexican spot. Nothing too fancy, but great if you just want to chill for a bit. Other good options would be Almar (for great cocktail selection and happy hour), Atrium (for wine). I still struggle to find and miss good old British pubs around the city that just serve great selection of booze in a chilled, cozy, old-school setting and with no food (unless you count in peanuts or crisps). Henry Street Ale House seems to be the closest to it in the area (even though it has an extensive food menu…).
- Great spot – check out St.Ann’s Warehouse. It is a performing arts institution/ theatre right on the river bank. The building and surroundings are just stunning, with grand red brick and open spaces. There is a little cute, hidden yard as well where you can chill out for a second, take some great photos and can pick through the arch windows to spot the Brooklyn Bridge.
Hope you’ll get to enjoy DUMBO as much as we did. Report back, please!