New Yorkers know how to pack a lot into a small space and the DUMBO section of Brooklyn is no exception. DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a section of Brooklyn that originally housed warehouses and industrial buildings because of its proximity to the ferry landing. It is located between the Brooklyn Bridge and Water Street, encompassing an area of 0.05 square miles (that’s the equivalent to 25 football fields arranged neatly in a rectangle). Mention the DUMBO section to anyone who lived in Brooklyn prior to the 1960’s and you will get an odd look and a question as to why you would want to visit an area of only factories responsible for producing such items like Brillo and cardboard boxes.
Just in case you ever make it to Jeopardy: The DUMBO section of Brooklyn was originally called Gairsville because Robert Gair invented the cardboard box on Washington Street in this area of Brooklyn. Here at Multiple Forks we not only provide insights into food but we offer valuable material for Trivial Pursuit!
After reading about the incredible growth in this area of NYC and hearing from others about it, I decided to check out DUMBO for the first time and I completely fell in love. What is not to love about the old feel of cobblestone streets, railroad tracks, and large red-brick buildings combined with beautiful parks, vintage shops, and numerous restaurants. I found myself walking around the small, winding streets and covering most of the 0.05 square miles in the course of an afternoon enjoying everything DUMBO has to offer. Below are few reasons to visit this amazing section of NYC:
In the concrete jungle of NYC and the surrounding boroughs, finding a park among the chaos is a welcomed gift that changes the hustle and bustle of the city into a quiet suburb. If you take the ferry from Manhattan’s Pier 11 (Wall St./Financial District) to the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, you are greeted by an area, outside of the ferry landing, filled with people and a large outdoor section where you can grab some food and a drink. There are also pedestrian walkways heading in every direction with views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline. This 85 acre area is known as Brooklyn Bridge Park where you can do anything ranging from outdoor movies to fitness classes.
The day I visited, the Google House was open for visitors and workers were handing out donuts to all who went inside. This is also a very dog friendly area, so be sure to bring your favorite four-legged friend. Also, do not miss the opportunity for a picture and a ride on Jane’s Carousel.
Vintage is cool and DUMBO is the best place to find anything from records to clothes to furniture and anything in between. The epitome of vintage shopping is contained at the Brooklyn Flea. Brooklyn Flea is an experience like none other; name it and the Brooklyn Flea has it somewhere. Always check the website for times before going but once you are there the shopping is incredible. If you end up in DUMBO on a day when the Brooklyn Flea is not happening, do not fear, there are still plenty of unique places to visit for your shopping needs. Be sure to check out the following:
TRUNK – Home to some incredibly creative items such as art, furniture, and jewelry. https://www.trunkbrooklyn.com/
Front Street General Store – Quite possibly the most unique place in all of DUMBO. As you enter, pretend you are the host of an episode of American Pickers. This place has EVERYTHING packed on a series of shelves. Even if you do not buy anything, the experience is worth every second. http://www.frontgeneralstore.com/
The Powerhouse Arena – Remember books? A bunch of pieces of paper containing words bound together behind two hard covers. This is the place to find those ancient artifacts in case you left your iPad, Kindle, or other electronic reading device at home. They have a beautiful array of books covering a number of topics. You can buy one of those books and sit out in the park and enjoy some non-electronic device time! https://www.powerhousearena.com/
During my visit, I saw three different weddings taking pictures throughout the area. The views of Manhattan are stunning but the feel of the old buildings and the streets add an artistic element for professional and amateur photographers, alike. Besides the outdoor views, you can enjoy the indoor artistic scene at:
Klompching Gallery – Once industrial factories left Brooklyn, the void was filled with incredible works of art. Art drives the desire to be in DUMBO and it features one of the best indoor galleries dedicated to photography. https://www.klompching.com/
St. Annes Warehouse – A 30 year old staple of this incredible neighborhood features fantastic space to see a rock show, theatre production, or anything that needs a stage in a renovated warehouse. http://stannswarehouse.org/
AIR Gallery – Another art gallery but this one prides its genius being fueled by the ideas of creative women in the area. I wonder if they need a young, female, blogger?!https://www.airgallery.org/
FINALLY! There were a number of restaurants with outdoor seating along the park and scattered throughout the area. There were also vendors selling everything from lobster rolls to Mexican food to ice cream. The must stops for your trip to DUMBO should include:
Vinegar Hill House – You cannot go wrong with this restaurant mainly because it contains a wood burning stove. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients and offering an eclectic menu of brunch and dinner items. http://vinegarhillhouse.com/info-and-hours/
Blue Stone Lane – My obsession is all things New Zealand and Australia and this coffee shop/Café does not disappoint. They are most famous for their avocado smash but the rest of their menu items are equally as good. As an added bonus for the DUMBO location, there is a cocktail list. Great views, satisfying food, and a cocktail list – I am in love! https://bluestonelane.com/cafes/dumbo/
Jacques Torres Chocolate – Chocolate! Not just chocolate but chocolate chip cookies from a world renowned pastry chef. A fantastic snack for your walk around this awesome section of Brooklyn. http://www.mrchocolate.com/locations/#dumbo
Juliana’s Pizza – I am not here to start a Brooklyn pizza war; Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge is landmark and it is incredible. Thankfully, Juliana’s was opened by Patsy Grimaldi and is the best option for pizza in DUMBO. The best part about Juliana’s – they only serve whole pies! No need to share. http://www.julianaspizza.com/
I could not leave DUMBO without finding a new place to eat. I recently read an awesome article on Eater about a newly opened DUMBO restaurant, Celestine. The cuisine is based on a mixture of African, Turkish, and Mediterranean flavors and was perfect on a warm fall day. Open only for about a week when I visited, Celestine, was already crowded the night I ate there. In fact, I arrived with no reservation (Retsy only) at 5:30pm and was told there was only one table available inside. Given the incredible weather lately, I decided to dine outside and ordered a few appetizers including the baked hummus, yogurt with honey and almonds, and marinated olives. The hummus and yogurt came with freshly made pita bread with olive oil and it was absolutely delicious. The best way to describe the taste of the appetizers, olive oil and pita – FRESH. It tasted like everything was prepared that moment and it was a perfect complement to their signature cocktail list after a long day. I tried their ‘East of the Sun’ cocktail and was incredibly pleased, it was very refreshing. After a short break between the appetizers and with the arrival of a glass of wine, we ordered the main course. The dishes are not overwhelming in portion size but they are substantial enough to split with someone. My date and I split the fusilli pasta with white anchovies and a mushroom tart with goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, raspberries and blackberries. We were both satisfied with the meal both in quality and quantity. https://www.celestinebk.com/
My trip to DUMBO was awesome. Its historical, hip, close to Manhattan, entertaining, and relaxing. The food choices are abundant and the area is enjoyable. Given the convenience and the opening of new places constantly, I will be visiting DUMBO often and I hope you do as well.