Introducing Edwina from Williamsburg, in my series introducing the people and places of New York City! Edwina visited New York in the Summer of 2016 and happened upon Williamsburg for what turned out to be the “best summer of her life”. She had to get back.
Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordered by Greenpoint to the north; Bedford–Stuyvesant to the south; Bushwick and East Williamsburg to the east; and the East River to the west.
After spending weeks and months looking for an apartment from Australia before visiting in 2016, Edwina finally found a place in Williamsburg. She loved the spot instantly, and since then her love for it has only grown!
Is it friendly for people new to the city (is it safe throughout the day and night)?
During the day it's especially lovely, and in the summer months, you'll find kids outside playing in the fire hydrants (it's basically a movie). It's homely, it's cute, and there are so many people who have lived here their entire lives. Bedford Street is always alive and the central area around Metropolitan Avenue and a few blocks South are filled with nightlife and cafes.
As a very broad rule, the North is more built up and friendlier than the South of Williamsburg. There are so many good places in the South, but that's especially how I felt when I first moved. North of Broadway is the sweet spot! The closer you get to Greenpoint in the North, things get a bit fancy and the buildings get a little more luxury. There are also fewer restaurants when compared to how many there are in central Williamsburg.
The BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) is another good definition defining East and West Williamsburg. Moving to the Eastern side of it has shown me a much quieter version of the area in the backstreets, and Graham Avenue in the East is as far as I'd normally go throughout a week.
Why do you like (or dislike) living in the area?
On any block you can go from a Michelin starred restaurant to a dive bar and a jewelry store all within a few yards of each other. The diversity is what I love most about the neighborhood.
It also reminds me of a Fitzroy or a Brunswick with how artsy it is and the graffiti on the walls around the area really gave it a tie to where I'm from.
I moved from one building to another all in the same area (within Williamsburg) if that helps to shows how much I like it. I've never felt truly unsafe anywhere.
By the way, the best Mexican in the area is Mesa Coyoacan Brooklyn:
“everywhere else for Mexican is rubbish”
Would you say it was a cheaper neighborhood, an average-priced neighborhood, or an expensive neighborhood?
Expensive, definitely. The prices are close to Manhattan prices in a lot of Williamsburg.
How would you describe a clichéd person living in the area and how do they live?
There are two distinct types, I feel:
- The old school families who have been living here forever. They have younger kids (3/4) and they're the ones with the kiddy pools out on the street during the summer months playing in the street.
- Then there's the younger artsier students and young professionals (in tech). The hipsters!
What is your favorite bar in the area to go with friends?
There's more than one!
My favorite is Maison Premiere. It's amazing for going out with a smaller group of friends for a fancy cocktail and some oysters, especially in the summer months when they open up the outdoor area out the back.
Full Circle Bar is a cool little dive bar for when you're looking for that kind of thing with bar games.
Then there's FREEHOLD when you've got larger groups!
Then there's the best plan you can get for a Wednesday:
Norman's Kil does free whiskey tastings on most Wednesday nights. Then right across the road is Huckleberry Bar which does 2 for 1 wine on Wednesdays (including bottles). You can't beat that value! [Josh's note: Norman's Kil also does AWESOME grilled cheeses].
Do you have a favorite spot to go alone or quietly with others (venue or not)?
Domino Park is my favorite, and very cool for a stroll. It's a really nice park area with people sitting around reading or sometimes working on their computers.
There's also Loosie Rouge for the quieter times because it's so small (it only seats around 16) and the bartenders are always ready for a chat. There's a kitchen out the back if you're looking for food as well! Fridays and weekends can get a bit more hectic there though.
Do you have a favorite café or deli and what is your order?
I'm café over deli. I like to sit and enjoy myself, but I can't say I have a particular favorite. As a tip though, if you go to any (mostly) of the Australian Cafés you can order an “Australian Iced Coffee” if you want it with ice cream and everything. It's not always on the menu, but they'll know what you're looking for.
I also love Tikka Indian Grill, which is the most authentic Indian that I've found in New York. I always order the chicken tikka and the methi mattar paneer.
Out of 10 how would you rate the neighborhood for: Overall? Kids? Going Out? Quiet Living? Food? As a tourist?
Kids: North (8) and South (3)
Going out: 10
Quiet living: North (7/8) and South (2)
Food: 9 (only 9 because there are a few “meh” places and it takes some time to find your favorites)
As a tourist: 7 (it's nice to visit for a few days but you're probably going to want to explore the sights).
In a few words, how would you sum up the neighborhood?
Lively. Arty. Fun.
Anything else you’d like to add about the area?
It’s a great place to go bar hopping because there are so many great bars with such diversity. If you live in Williamsburg you never have to leave! You can do karaoke, go bowling, go to Smorgasburg during the summer. There really is such a diversity!
All About Neighborhood Champion, Edwina
How do you describe yourself in one sentence?
I'm a bubbly, eccentric, foody.
What is your favorite thing to do in the city (outside of your neighborhood)?
I go into Manhattan a bit to Greenwich Village to visit friends and love going to the Comedy Cellar.
Where do you call “home” and where are you “from”?
Home is New York, it didn't take long. After I visited in 2016, when I got back to Australia, I would watch TV shows and see New York and feel homesick! I knew I had to come back.
I'm from Melbourne, born in Newcastle.
Now’s your chance to promote whatever you want (your business, your hobby, your cool idea, or something you love)
I always need help with gardening! I can grow some things but I keep killing succulents. I thought they were meant to be easy!? I also play guitar and sing and am potentially joining a band! If you want to go to karaoke, let me know!
From America Josh
Edwina can be found at @scizzy on Instagram!
I can't thank you enough, Edwina, thanks for the awesome insight into Williamsburg! I will be visiting for the best Mexican very soon.
Introducing Neighborhood Champions!
Other Champions: Meet Nico from Cobble Hill, Meet Erin from Long Island City, Meet Rachael from FiDi/Seaport, Meet Edwina from Williamsburg, Meet Scott from Greenwich Village, Meet Josh of Alphabet City
Getting to know a neighborhood in New York is one of the most interesting and fun parts of living here. Building community, understanding the nuances of streets, bars, cafés, and cultures, and knowing what’s cool (and what’s not) makes you feel like you’re really part of the city. So, I want to hear about yours!
So. Are you my next Neighborhood Champion for your neighborhood? If so, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll arrange a time to meet!