Alison Pels’ perfect Sunday in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

Pie potentate Pels poses for a pic
Pie potentate Pels poses for a pic

Hey folks, welcome back to the second installment of Brokelyn’s newest profile series: Perfect Summer Sundays. Each week, we bring you a local personality from the borough. They tell you how they like to spend a Sunday in their neighborhood. Then, you 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 taking you to Prospect-Lefferts Gardens with Alison Pels, newly-crowned pie potentate of central Brooklyn. Since opening her own shop in the area, Pels has discovered all there is to know about this unassuming little neighborhood tucked in next to Prospect Park, and she’s brought all her “secrets of the garden” to Brokelyn!

“In my experience, nothing cures a hangover,” says Pels of that familiar Sunday morning headache so many of us can relate to. “That said, if you’ve had just a couple drinks too many and you haven’t yet crossed into the hangover hereafter, go to Vee’s Restaurant” (967 Nostrand Avenue) for cheap Carribean fare. At $6 for a plate of hearty, sauced-up food from a hot food haven, she consider it as good a way as any to get you going on those days when you need sunglasses indoors.

With your regrets from last night at least partially conquered, what’s next in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens? Well, you’re just steps away from the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway).


"small but mighty" might even be an understatement for the Brooklyn Museum. via flickr user Kent Wang
“Small but mighty” might even be an understatement. via flickr user Kent Wang

“It’s small but mighty,” says Pels. Specifically, she points us toward the mummies and period rooms of the permanent Egyptian exhibit, as well as the current Basquiat exhibit. Best of all, it’s PWYC. “You can pay either the full $16 for a ticket, or just make a nominal donation to enter.” (You can also get an NYC ID and get a one-year membership for free)

For a midday meal, Pels’ fave sit-down restaurant is Gandhi Indian Restaurant (2032 Bedford Avenue). It’s got filling meals for under $10, a friendly waitstaff, and the sought-after status of BYOB if you’re craving a little hair-of-the-dog. “I recommend the butter paneer.”


faraway swamp lagoon, or city-curated park? via Flickr user Scott Keddy
Faraway swamp lagoon, or city-curated park? via Flickr user Scott Keddy

Once the sun moves into prime position for beating down its afternoon rays, head in through the east side of Prospect Park—where Pels says it’s quieter and more picturesque—for a little nature-walking, turtle-watching by the pond and faux-horseback riding on the carousel! The ride only costs $2; but if that doesn’t appeal, there are always lovely meadows for wandering, and a delightful sense of wilderness therein.

Speaking of, Pels’ pro tip is to try a little berry-picking while you’re out there.”I know where all of the raspberry bushes are located. Seriously, I have them pinned on my google maps.” It’s not FDA or park ranger-approved, but it certainly has a resounding stamp of approval from someone who bakes fruit pies for a living. By the way, if you want to learn safe tips on foraging in the park, check out some CourseHorse class offerings on that.


Bits and bites at the dreamy Pels Pie Co. via website
Bits and bites at the dreamy Pels Pie Co. via website

Of course, a must-see while you’re in the neighborhood is also Pels’ own dessert haven, Pels Pie Co. (446 Rogers Avenue). With the tantalizing fragrance of fresh-baked pie and pastry, fully-functioning A/C, a sunny backyard garden, and a winning selection of coffee, tea, beer and wine, it’s the perfect spot for that 3-7pm happy hour lull you hit on a hot day—you know, that moment when everyone turns to each other and silently pleads, Let’s sit down somewhere.

Wrapping up the day in Prospect-Lefferts as the sun sets, you’ll want a place to relax and muse on a day well-spent, before heading back home for the night. Pels recommends Inkwell Cafe (408 Rogers Ave) for cheap drink specials, but also just favors a quiet evening at Erv’s (2122 Beekman Pl). “That’s really the cutest little bar around. Thursday through Sunday they have $2 tamales, and on weekends they give free coffee to anyone who arrives on a bicycle.”

Got an idea for the perfect summer Sunday in your neighborhood? Write to us!

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