For some of us, the start of the academic year means trading in towels for textbooks, and happy hour cocktails for by-the-hour class schedules. For others, this time of year is just an excuse to take advantage of the deals at Staples. But whatever our respective Septembers hangup, we can all agree on one thing: weekends. Yes, those glorious two days where you have full license to ignore emails, laze around the house, and eat meals at odd hours year-round.
And we’re here to help the cause. It’s time for another installment of Perfect Summer Sundays, the Brokelyn profile series in which we bring you a local personality from the borough who shares how they like to spend a Sunday in their neighborhood. This week, we’re talking to Melissa Aubert, a Jill-of-all-trades in Williamsburg.
In addition to owning the popular Passenger Bar, Aubert also runs a music management company, and does licensing music for film & TV with Playup Music. But her bar is her real crowning achievement. “I’ve worked in the service industry since I was 14. I always wanted to open a bar, as far back as I could remember. I’ve had so many themes and ideas over the years! I settled on this one for Passenger, but I want to open another one.”
For breakfast, Aubert likes to switch up her routine. Right now, she’s all about Southern influence. “I’ve been pretty obsessed with Sweet Chick (164 Bedford Avenue) lately. They offer two ways to get your chicken and waffle fix, as-is or in sandwich form! Beehive Oven (182 South 2nd Street) is also a hidden gem for smothery Southern food.”
Southern food can be a heavy start to the day, which is why Aubert likes spending her Sundays pounding the pavement. “Artists & Fleas (70 North 7th Street), and outdoor weekend fairs like Smorgasburg [note: only on Saturdays] are always fun and free to peruse, and taste some new treats from the area. The East River Ferry isn’t free, but its only $4-6 and an amazing way to see the city. And the Brooklyn Brewery (79 North 11th Street) tasting and tours are great.
Local food vendors abound at the flea markets, and food trucks are known to hover close-by. But if you don’t end up sampling your way to a full stomach, there’s plenty of casual options in the area. “I’ll sit in the backyard at Caracas (291 Grand Street) when the weather is nice and have an arepa. But a no-brainer is the falafel sandwich at Oasis (161 North 7th Street). I’ve lived in the neighborhood for ten years, and this is my mainstay. For $4 you’re getting the most amazing, crunchy, spicy and delicious falafel sandwich. Friendly and super-quick service, too.”
After all that spice, Aubert recommends you keep up the heat by popping into Heatonist (121 Wythe Avneue). “I’m obsessed with hot sauce, and they let you try before you buy! While my mouth is burning, I’ll walk down to OddFellows Ice Cream (175 Kent Avenue) to taste one of their new concoctions. They always have some crazy flavors.”
Sated with a combo of spicy and sweet, head to what Aubert deems one of the neighborhood’s cultural destination spots, Tara McPherson’s Cotton Candy Machine (235 South 1st Street). “It’s my favorite gallery. They support a lot of talented artists, have some truly amazing events, not to mention a killer gift shop with books, tees, and artist miscellany.”
When the sun goes down, Aubert loves hosting dinners on the patio. But since we’re not all privy to a personal invite, she’s got a few spots to offer up. “I love Lighthouse (145 Borinquen Pl). Beautiful spot, impeccable menu. Also, the Four Hoursemen (295 Grand Street). They have a rotating menu, but I had the most amazing raw scallops there.”
For some live entertainment to close out a Sunday well spent, Aubert picks Baby’s All Right (146 Broadway). “They have a great stage and sound,” she says. “The space is sectioned off nicely, so you can have a meal or listen to the DJ in the front.”
“Oh, and one more thing about the neighborhood,” says Aubert. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re in East Williamsburg. That’s just Bushwick.”