The air is cool and the sun is more forgiving, but we’re still in the heart of summertime. And what better way to soak in the season, than with our Perfect Summer Sundays series? Here’s how it works: we bring you a local personality from the borough who shares how they like to spend a Sunday in their neighborhood. Then, you get to try it on for size! Tourists, too. Gone are the empty brags of having “been to Bushwick,” or the misguided attempts to hang out where the locals do. This way, you get a taste of what the neighborhood’s all about from someone who actually lives there, and you can leave satisfied.
This week, we’re hanging out in Bed-Stuy with Allison Stuart, owner of Bedford Hill Coffee Bar. Since 2010, Bedford Hill has been shaking up the coffee scene at the border of Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant by serving up a taste of the midwest with Milwaukee, WI’s own Anodyne Coffee. Affectionately termed a “cozy sinkhole” by Stuart herself, BHCB is a neighborhood haunt for everyone within a half-mile radius. Some trek even farther to get a taste of the shop’s infamous egg sandwich. Today, Stuart tells us all about her Bed-Stuy bliss on a Sunday.
For a much-needed hangover cure on a Sunday, Stuart goes to the one place where everybody knows her name. “Seriously tooting my own horn here, but the classic egg Sando at Bedford Hill (343 Franklin Avenue) has saved me more times than I can count.”
She highly recommends you shell out the extra dollar to get strips of miso-crusted bacon on there, too. Then, once you’re full-up with a little grease and a damn fine cup of coffee, head out along Hancock Street, one of Stuart’s favorite streets in the neighborhood for a scenic jaunt. “I really like just strolling around Bed-Stuy, looking at the architecture,” Stuart tells us. “The brownstones have been around for centuries. Truly historic monuments, set against a changing landscape.”
The heat beats down something fierce off all the concrete and sandstone in the neighborhood, so another coffee might be in order as you walk East into Bed-Stuy. Stuart’s second-fave spot to get caffeinated is Anchor Coffee (525a Throop Avenue), where they serve coffee from a local roaster called Parlor. “It’s small and simple and impressive,” says Stuart of the tiny, bathroom-less outpost on Throop. “Definitely my coffee shop away from *my* coffee shop.”
As far as sit-down meals go, Stuart picks sea-to-table bistro L’Antagoniste (238 Malcolm X Boulevard) as her must-go spot for oysters and rosé on a Sunday afternoon. “Classic French restaurant, beautifully designed coziness,” Stuart says of her Sunday spot. A plate of oysters at L’Antagoniste runs $16-32. It’s a splurge, but everything else on this list is way cheap or free, so you’ll certainly have saved for it.
It may not seem like the sky could be a piece of any particular neighborhood, but Bed-Stuy’s location makes it prime territory for plane-watching the aircraft heading in and out of JFK and La Guardia. It’s especially beautiful as the sun sets: planes soar high enough overhead to pass without a sound, but low enough to make for a dreamy scene. Day or night, it’s one of Allison Stuart’s treasured sources of peace.
“My friend has a lovely rooftop he calls Tar Beach,” she tells us. “We sat up there one night and just watched the planes fly into LaGuardia. There were stars, too; but watching the flightpath is really something special about living here.”
Close out the day’s adventures right back where you started, on Franklin Avenue. Bedford Hill becomes a sultry craft beer bar by night, music venue C’mon Everybody (325 Franklin Avenue) has shows on shows for every taste, and Stuart says she never gets tired of the taco truck in the backyard of the bar-next-door, Chilo’s (323 Franklin Avenue).
“That truck hasn’t ever disappointed. I’m seriously addicted to their carnitas. They’re somehow more delicious because you can eat them outside!”
Correction: Hancock Street was indentified as Hancock Avenue
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I get that this is supposed to be one individual’s experience of Bed-Stuy, but I was disappointed in this list. As a white person who moved to Bed-Stuy a few years ago, I make an effort to spend my money at local Black-owned businesses. I wish more of them had been included in this tour of the neighborhood. There are a plethora of wonderful Black-owned businesses in Bed-Stuy like Bed-Vyne, Peaches Hothouse, Patti Hut, Sincerely Tommy, Peace and Riot, Miss Dahlia’s, Le Paris Dakar…I could go on and on.
Also, it’s Hancock Street, not Hancock Avenue.
Hey, Mack! Bedford Hill worked with Sincerely,Tommy last week to cater a free neighborhood event at the space. Frankly, I consider collaboration with other local businesses to be just as fantastic as patronizing them. Let’s just all do our part to try and keep the good vibes going.
<3 fellow Bed-Stuy resident