I’m not going to pretend that I watch GIRLS. When the show first aired, I was interning at a literary agency like, I’m told, Lena Dunham’s character was, and the idea of asking my parents for money to stay in New York was absolutely baffling—and a little too close to home. Since I now live in Brooklyn and moonlight as a writer, it’s both figuratively and literally close to home. (Seriously. Apparently they’ve filmed outside my building.) If you’re a tech PR person living in the suburbs of some New England state, you go ahead and binge-watch GIRLS—I’ll be watching Masters of Sex and trying to divorce myself from the reality of being close-to-broke in NYC’s most polarizing borough. Anyways, before the unlicensed GIRLS Bus Tour of Brooklyn! starts rolling through anywhere that sells $8 coffee, here are a few of my favorite food places in Brooklyn, TV star salary not required.
Let’s start at the Bedford L train stop, situated in the heart of Williamsburg, and generally home to ukulele-playing buskers and lots of girls with Claire Boucher haircuts. I’ll assume you’ve brought your appetite and very little money with you, so let’s hit Oasis. While I was interning at A Very Hip Media Company in Williamsburg, one of my co-interns, Amira (hey gurrrrl) turned me on to Oasis. “It’s basically a foodtruck, but it’s inside so there’s a place to sit down.” Did I mention it’s $3 for a pita the size of your head stuffed with falafel, fresh pickled veggies, and white sauce? Glorious.
Speaking of the Very Hip Media Company That Paid Me Squat to Work There, you should check out Vinnie’s, a pizza place where I got another $3 lunch pretty much every day I felt like splurging for more than a Clif bar. Besides having fantastic vegan pizza (Okay, I know I just lost like 50% of my readers. I’m not vegan. I don’t even like eggplant parm. But their vegan eggplant parm pizza will change your life more than that Shins song from Garden State), and lots of Lost memorabilia, they also have some of the best garlic knots you’ll ever come across. They’re five for a dollar, absolutely unctuous, and covered in chopped basil and garlic. Plus the sauce on the side is killer.
Since I’ve actually started getting paid for my work, I moved to Greenpoint, which is at the tip-top of Brooklyn. Yes, there are very fancy restaurants getting lots of acclaim there, but there are also dirt-cheap diamonds in the rough and, miraculously, I live right on top of one of them. God Bless Deli 2 (presumably there’s a God Bless Deli 1, but I’ve never seen it) is a genuinely magical place—open 24 hours, it stocks both fancy gelato, and off-brand ramen, for the day you get paid and the day before you get paid, respectively. They also make a meaaaan turkey egg and cheese, leaving the turkey on the flattop long enough so that it gets browned, putting ketchup DIRECTLY ON THE SANDWICH (because I am a princess who does not like to ketchup her own sandwich) and making sure the cheese is always perfectly melted. Heaven, available whenever your drunk ass is stumbling home.
I say “stumbling home” because there are a LOT of good bars in Greenpoint. Black Rabbit had arguably one of the worst-executed speed-dating nights ever (“The last time I came here was actually extremely depressing. It was for the pre-Valentine’s Day Smiths-themed speed dating event [billed as "you could meet somebody who really loves you"], which ended up being cancelled due to the unfortunate female:male ratio of, no joke, 15:1.”), but the Brooklyn Brine $1 pickles, $3 Guinness, wood-burning fire, and cozy booths with swinging doors can cover a multitude of sins.
If you want to get your drank on as well as feasting on some cheap eats, Lulu’s is your best bet. It’s gigantic, with a stage in the back and balcony seating around half the bar, but it’s the free pan pizza that comes with every drink that makes this bar haunt my dreams. Is it good pizza? It’s pizza. It’s free. Does it matter? You can even get additional toppings for $1 if you’re into that kind of thing. Once you fill up on pizza, you can end the night at St. Vitus, Greenpoint’s metal bar. Missing the nostalgia of mid-90s Swedish death metal? Step right up! The outside is pretty unremarkable, painted matte black with only one mesh window featuring an upside-down cross (of course), but the guys with green pony tails should clue you in. Don’t mess around—order one of the beer-and-shot combos, and, please, don’t be That Guy wearing earplugs.
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