Monday, December 28, 2009

Dumbo on a Budget

The Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), is not quite Manhattan brownstone, but isn’t quite Williamsburg hipster. It’s got the quiet, laid-back vibe of a neighborhood you’ve love to hang out in, with all the excitement that keeps it from being lame. The neighborhood is primarily composed of warehouses, factories, and storefronts-, which have now been converted into galleries, lofts, and theaters, and is currently swimming with all sorts of creative types. It’s a beautiful part of Brooklyn to check for a cheap afternoon of exploring.


There’s much more to enjoy besides Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s.

1. Stop at Coffee Box @ Retreat (147 Front St) for a cup of coffee ($2) and some local art. While it can get crowded on the weekends, it’s a great place to pop yourself for a few hours if you’ve got a meeting, are early for an appointment, or just have some work to do (there’s free wi-fi). As an extra bonus, Retreat offers delicious coffee and fresh H&H bagels.

2. Wall Street Burger Shop (30 Water St) is a great spot for lunch, setting you back between $7 and $78 for a sandwich or burger. Their take on the “Obama Burger” ($7), a beef burger with mozzarella, marinara, and basil, has the most fans on Chowhound, who applaud the ingenious combination of tastes. Personally, we’re a fan of the sweet potato fries ($4), which are big enough to make a lunch of themselves.

3. Underground Pizzeria (205 Pearl St) is not your renowned DUMBO pizza joint, but attempts to hold its own when compared to traditional favorites. Personal pies, from $7.50, come topped with anything from black olives, to spinach, to sausage, while the standard $2.50 slice won’t disappoint. Perfect for a quick fix bite.


1. Visit one of the cobblestone side streets to catch a glimpse of one of the many film, commercial, and music video shoots that take place during the week. See our previous post for how to sneak the best craft service, and how to glimpse your favorite movie star. Recently shot in Dumbo: Step Up 3, Taking of Pelham 123, Morning Glory, and a new music video series from the Bollywood industry.

2. If you’re a music lover, check out Halcyon (57 Pearl St). It’s got a great collection of old vinyls and you could easily lose yourself for hours flipping through your favorite albums. Originally stationed in Cobble Hill, Halcyon combined a coffee bar/café, DJ lounge, record shop, vintage furnishings dealership, art gallery and multi-media performance space, attracting a contagious vibe and some hipsters to boot. It’s got to be seen to be understood, so make sure to stop by during your Dumbo adventure.

3. While definitely not budget-friendly, St. Ann’s Warehouse (38 Water St) is a renowned theater and puts on a selection of obscure and wonderful plays every season. On the schedule for this winter are performances of Brief Encounter, Stew and the Toy Theater Festival (which sounds so freaking cool, we’re already trying to figure out how we can live without food in order to afford the $65 festival pass). Even if you can’t see a show, stop by and check out their line-up for yourself.


1. Looking for a cheap date idea or just an excuse to take in breathtakingly beautiful views of the city? Take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. If you head from City Hall (Financial District) towards Dumbo, you can reward yourself with a cone from Brooklyn Ice Cream factory upon arrival.

2. The Empire Fulton State Park is sandwiches between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and is usually deserted in the winter, making it a perfect place to read, paint, or hang out on the grassy banks for a few hours. The sandy shores of the river are always chock full of sea glass just waiting to be plucked. It’s such a beautiful place, we can assure you that you’ll probably end up in at least one wedding photo.

3. Take a right onto Water St and you’ll discover an Old Manor, which was built years ago for the overseer of the Navy yards. This area, otherwise known as Vinegar Hill, is as deserted as a ghost town. Hang out and keep your eyes open for anything spooky.

SPLURGE: I’m a sucker for ice cream, no matter the price, and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (1 Water St) is highly recommended. The ice cream is all natural and the toppings are to die for- get the Chocolate Chocolate Chip with deep, dark hot chocolate fudge. They only have 6 flavors, but trust us, you’ll have a hard time deciding.

SPEND: $9- $11 (not including $2.25 metrocard)

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