Being raised in the northeast I have come to appreciate those rare fall days where is seems like summer hasn’t quite gone. This past weekend we got on of those days so it was time to take to the streets for a glutinous yet perfect Saturday in my home of Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.
Starting off on the right foot I ventured into perpetually busy brunch bastion of Cafe Ghia. This tiny quirky spots boasts some really creative takes on middle meal staples, such as biscuits with bacon and mushroom gravy or the Lumberjack Stack which places bacon and scrambled eggs betwixt some golden waffles. What immediately caught my attention however was the Ranchero Benedict. Now I tend to think I am a bit of an eggs benedict scholar, hollandaise practically runs through my blood (has anyone else’s dad ever called to say the Dunkin’ Donuts Eggs Benedict was as good as you would think?). With that in mind I have also had many variations on the classic, from chorizo and guacamole, to french toast and bacon, I have tried them all. Safe to say I was excited to try a new variation and it did not disappoint. The substitution of the english muffin for griddled corn cakes and the hollandaise for a tangy Huancaina sauce consisting of yellow peppers and feta cheese, were a perfectly updated take on the original, giving a certain Caribbean flare to the dish that was very welcome.
From Cafe Ghia I wandered down Flushing Ave a way to Tutu’s which like many of the restaurant/bars in the neighborhood doubles or even triples as a host of different events or gatherings. In past the always incredible and often changing mural wall you will find a cozy front bar area perfect for grabbing some drinks and per my purpose hit up the omnipresent $1 Oyster Happy Hour that takes place all Saturday and Sunday. While I didn’t partake in anything other than some discount bivalves on this trip I can attest that the food at Tutu’s is legit, whether it be for brunch or dinner (I haven’t had a bad appetizer there). Having polished off about 2 dozen oysters it was back out into the street and past the Morgan L stop.
The next pit stop was at Our Wicked Lady which is a little bit of a walk up Morgan Ave and over the train tracks. Grab yourself a drink at the bar downstairs and hit the stairs up to their incredible roof. They really have one of the best outdoor spots in Bushwick and it is becoming ever more popular by the day so I highly recommend getting there early and posting up at one of their rooftop tables. Their drinks are cheap and they often have a band or DJ of some kind spinning downstairs in the main bar so it makes for a great little day drinking spot for those looking for some activity while working on the drinkers tan on the roof.
A block north of that we ended the day at what is my favorite hidden jewel of the whole neighborhood Arrogant Swine. I say hidden because regardless of the noted critical acclaim and prime location it is rarely crowded. If you want a fine selection of great beers and whiskeys while having the most succulent Carolina style BBQ in all of New York you NEED to get here. The space is in an old garage with a huge outdoor area with picnic tables and the ubiquitous giant human Jenga. With it being the last stop and we had/continued to have several adult beverages the group that had accumulated and I got practically everything on the menu. The highlights for me were definitely the pork belly, which was so tender and smokey it was more like a swine brisket than anything else, as well as the whole hog which should be a requirement the second you step into the door. Now for me the piece de resistance of solid southern cuisine (or to be honest cuisine of any kind) is always the sides. Here is a tip for going to Arrogant Swine, GET EVERY SIDE THEY HAVE! Both waffles are dynamite, one being their mac and cheese that is pressed into a waffle iron and served with a side of queso. Both slaws are dynamite with each bringing a different notable zing to the palate. The beans and collards taste so smokey you’ll feel like you were huffing the pit out back (in a good way). Also if they have any specials I highly recommend those too, an occasional burnt ends topped fries have been rumored to be off menu.
As the neighborhood continues to expand and it seems like every day there is a new bar or restaurant where an old abandoned store (or not abandoned RIP Cain’s Tavern) used to be. I suggest take the L to Morgan and wander until you find the one of many spots that suit you.