It takes a brave writer to tackle a place her editors know well. In this issue, Grace Bonney shares her favorite spots in Brooklyn, and let's just say that 11 people at Budget Travel (that's how many folks on the editorial team live in the borough) had strong opinions about what she included--and what she didn't.
The entire point of the story ("My Brooklyn Is Better Than Yours") is that it's all about Grace's Brooklyn, so I told everyone to butt out. And then I went and did something totally shady: I begged Grace to include my favorite restaurant, Franny's. I don't live in Brooklyn, but I eat at Franny's once a week. (In summer, when the garden is open, I go even more often.) Happily, Grace is a fan of Franny's, too.
When I moved to New York City 15 years ago, I didn't know anyone who lived in Brooklyn, and the thought of going there for dinner was laughable. How much have things changed? The day this photo was taken, I ate lunch at Franny's and then dinner at Dressler, a beautiful restaurant in the borough's Williamsburg neighborhood.
To New Yorkers, Brooklyn's renaissance--yaaawwwwwnnn--is old news, and now they talk excitedly about Long Island City (in Queens) and Jersey City (in New Jersey). People who've never been to Brooklyn, however, tend to imagine it'll be like something out of The Warriors. A few years ago, I took my parents for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It amused me how skittish they were. Now when they think of the borough, they think of Grimaldi's pizza and Jacques Torres's velvety hot chocolate.
I love Manhattan (if not as ardently as I did 15 years ago), but Brooklyn has the kinds of neighborhoods I seek out when I visit a new city.
I've been to L.A., London, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires in recent years, and in each city I tried to find the up-and-coming areas, the places that are still being gentrified. They're less slick and more idiosyncratic than the established neighborhoods and are home to excellent casual restaurants (like Franny's!) and stores that don't sell the same old stuff.
Ultimately, the places where people live are always going to be the most satisfying--and they're more affordable, to boot. So go and visit Brooklyn before all the interesting people have been priced out. And while you're there, you really should stop by Franny's.
Tell them Grace sent you.