It’s Spring, people! But with this weather we’ve been having in New York (oy the heat!), you could easily trick me into believing it’s summer. Regardless. It’s warm. It’s lighter later. Let’s get on our bikes and find some ice cold beverages.
Welcome to one of my favorite new neighborhoods: Red Hook!
I feel like I’m telling the world about a great secret whenever I talk about Red Hook. Although many have explored and enjoyed the neighborhood before lil’ ol’ me came along, it still feels like uncharted territory. It has a small community feel and a very beachy vibe. And as a California girl, it really felt like home. It’s the type of place that makes me wanna listen to Jack Johnson and take a long nap. And maybe bring along a sketch book.
The first time I visited, I remember thinking, “This type of place exists in New York? And it’s a mere 20 minute bike ride from my apartment??”
I tell ya, it’s worth the trip.
Not only is Red Hook home to the only Ikea in New York, and the 2nd location of the huge amazing market, Fairway. But it also hosts a number of delightful small businesses (which is the more appealing aspect of Red Hook to me personally). You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a delicious bakery, or a homegrown nursery or flower shop, or a fresh lobster place. They have everything!
With a free Saturday and a loose gameplan, my boyfriend and I set out to do some Red Hook exploring last weekend. Here are the highlights.
Calexico. Holy moly. This is some of the best Mexican food I’ve had in New York. I felt like I was transported to San Francisco. They’ve been getting some crazy press (they used to be just a food cart, and now they have this store front! YAY Calexico!), so I was eager to see what all the buzz was about.
This food was outrageously good. It was the perfect fuel to keep us going for our bike ride. The atmosphere is not pretentious at all and the food is such good quality. Calexico gets an “A+” in my book. And David was very pleased as well.
Please allow me to recommend the Carne Asada Quesadillas. Promise me that you’ll get this when you go there. It was a recommendation from my friend Jessica, who said to me: “I know, I know, quesadilla? What are you, 11? I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed because it comes with the crackiest of crack sauces I’ve had in a long time”. She was right. The Crack Sauce. Mmm! Don’t even get me started. Here’s their website.
Free kayaking! WHAT!? Yes. Red Hook is, apparently, just that cool.
As a totally unplanned unexpected bonus, David and I happened upon this amazing program sponsored by the volunteer organization called the Redhook Boaters. The kind and good-hearted people of Redhook Boaters set up shop at Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park (phew, what a mouthful!). And in exchange for helping them clean up the waterfront, they provide free kayaks to take out on the river. With gorgeous views of the Statue of Liberty and the satisfaction of knowing that the Red Hook waterfront has a few less cigarette butts and bottle caps as a direct result of your help, an afternoon spent at the Pier is a win win!
It was a blast. And a pleasant little work out! When we got there, it wasn’t super crowded and we didn’t wait more than 10 minutes for a kayak. But I would recommend checking it out soon before word gets out that this is the best deal in the city. They’ll be at the Pier every Sunday, and during July and August they’ll be adding evening kayaking on Thursdays from 6-8pm! Checkemout.
Say hello to Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. If you’re a key lime pie person (which, why shouldn’t you be?), then fuggedaboutit. Yer done. This is all you need. These little treats are off the hook.
David and I kept things classic with their 4-Inch Key Lime Tart. But if you’re lookin’ to get crazy, try their Swingle: a key lime tart, on a stick, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. I have yet to sample one myself, but I hear good things.
I heart Red Hook. It’s so quiet and charming…in an abandoned-warehouse-beach-town-sorta-way. There are a few other wonderful little places that I love, but didn’t mention in this post. They are definitely worth a visit:
*Fort Defiance – order their Muffuletta and Ginger Soda, and you’re looking at a perfect lunch.
*Saipua – a flower and soap shoppe, this is the best-smelling storefront in Red Hook. The gorgeous bouquets that they post on their blog cheer me up daily. (Click here to check out my amateur, but beautiful, bouquet I assembled there!)