Citykin Guide To Prospect Heights
You are in for a real treat because today we’re featuring one of the coolest and nicest (COOL TO BE KIND PEOPLE!) city moms we know. Not only does she possibly have the cutest kids on the planet, she is a rockstar at her actual rock’n roll job at one of the most famous music joints in NYC, is a legit trailblazer in the art meets business world and is married to a guy with a Brit accent. BECAUSE THAT’S JUST BETTER #admitit.
She is the unofficial but really OFFICIAL expert on all things Prospect Heights. Prospect what? Yep, a Brooklyn hood that doesn’t have the name street cache as some of the other areas (looking at you Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Williamsburg) but is seriously cool and family friendly.
Without further adieu, let’s give it up for Sacha.
Hello, CityKin! My name is Sacha Wynne and my family of four lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. I have two sons, aged 5 and 2½. My husband and I are both immigrants: I’m originally from Canada and he is from Wales, but we’ve both lived in New York City for nearly two decades. I work in the arts, as the marketing lead for the cabaret Joe’s Pub and as the founder of WAERK – a consultancy that fuses art practice with business practices.
WHY I LOVE THIS HOOD: I love Prospect Heights because it is culturally diverse, community-oriented, and home to many of the most convivial spots in Brooklyn. (it’s OK if you had to look up convivIal….SO DID WE:) It affords immediate access to street-art, world-class cultural hubs (the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, and Prospect Park), and great food from a number of nationalities. The neighborhood is a source of constant joy and inspiration.
600 Vanderbilt Avenue (between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place)
Crossing this threshold is one of my favorite journeys in New York City. This is a true reader’s bookstore, designed for the literature obsessed of all ages. The breadth of Unnameable’s collection of new and used tomes (and journals) defies its small square footage. Their curated selection of new releases is consistently stocked with a collection of must-reads, in fiction and non-fiction, from both established and under-the-radar authors. The children’s section is lovingly composed of books that will nurture a love of reading in very little ones, and that will fuel the literary appetite of young readers. If you love to read, friend, this may be your heaven on earth. Note, one day you will have time to read again and when you do make this your first stop!
The Winey Neighbor
679 Washington Avenue (between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place)
The Winey Neighbor is small but mighty: it’s both well stocked and educational. If you like to imbibe, but can’t tell a white Bordeaux from a chardonnay (*raises hand*), you can rest assured that you’ll leave the Winey Neighbor with the right bottle for your tastes. Each wine, and even some liquors, are accompanied by notes on their “notes”, along with food pairing suggestions, and in some cases, evocative music pairings! If you’re worried about your little ones running around like bulls in a china shop, fret not: there is an assortment of toys and candy near the till (THEY JUST GET US!)
636 Washington Avenue at Dean Street
It’s impossible to miss Natty Garden’s beautiful bounty, as it overflows from the storefront onto the corner of Dean and Washington Avenues. Whatever the season, or the reason, Natty Garden has it all. If the holiday season is the only time you have greenery in your home, I encourage you to stop at Natty Garden this year. They have trees of all sizes that will make everything from a side table to grand salon look fantastically festive.
357 Flatbush Avenue (between Park Place and Sterling Place
Sometimes you just can’t get to Target. Sometimes Target doesn’t have everything you need (SHOCKER!!!). If you’re lucky enough to live near the B/Q at 7th Ave, you’ll always be able to get to King’s Pharmacy, and they’ll always have what you’re looking for. Whether it’s (the surprisingly elusive) pedialyte frozen pops, a Moroccanoil conditioner, kids’ suppositories, or ingrown hair eliminator, you can enter King’s confident that you’ll find it.
Art Café & Bar
884 Pacific Street at Underhill Avenue
In a neighborhood that’s increasingly populated with over-designed restaurants staffed by people with underwhelming manners, Art Café & Bar is a longstanding oasis. It is a beacon of what attracts so many to Brooklyn: it’s multifaceted, multicultural, and always amiable. At Art Café & Bar, visual art abounds and live art is a regular occurrence. Stop by for a snack with your kids (we love the seasonal popcorn and lemonade, alfresco in the summer) or belly up to the bar in the evening, for intimate adult conversations. It’s a one stop bonding shop!
Burrito Bar & Kitchen
307 Flatbush Avenue at Prospect Place
One is (okay, I am) hard-pressed to find a more kid-friendly restaurant in Brooklyn that isn’t just for kids. In addition to their “greatest hits” kids’ menu (e.g. PB&J, mini burgers, chicken fingers), your little ones will receive crayons and a coloring book/menu, a balloon, and ice cream with their meal! If you manage to get there at the right time (after 4:45PM on weekends), you may even catch the balloon animal artist and face painter. The frozen margaritas at this Tex-Mex cantina are no joke and at Burrito Bar, you may even be able to finish one without interruption!
554 Vanderbilt Avenue (between Bergen Street and Dean Street)
Cataldo’s is a family-owned neighborhood staple that serves delicious, authentic Italian cuisine, and a killer basket of garlic bread. My kids love the made-to-order pizza, the simple pasta dishes, and above all, the bread. My husband and I are particular fans of their seafood dishes and they have some delightful house wines. The setting and setup also make it a great place for large-ish “framily” dinners.
In addition to dine-in service, Cataldo’s also has a prepared food counter that is a respite for neighborhood, at the end of day spent darting around between boroughs, offices, schools, and daycares.
267 Flatbush Avenue at St. Marks Avenue
Morgan’s is particularly enjoyable when the weather’s nice and you can dine on the large patio, at one of the communal picnic tables. There’s great people watching on Flatbush Avenue and it’s easy to hop onto the sidewalk with toddlers easy to try out their “new” legs. My oldest hates sauce, but he loves Morgan’s - because of their fries. We are a family of French fry lovers and Morgan’s rate highly. As someone who loves sauce, and BBQ, I can recommend the entire menu. The fries, though.
Ode to Babel
772 Dean Street (between Washington Avenue and Underhill Avenue)
Ode to Babel is one of those delicious New York City places that makes you feel like you’re someone special, because it creates moments that are very special. It’s as though by walking through the lounge’s doors, “you” disappears into the vibe and “we” emerges for the rest of the evening. In a city that thrives on exclusivity, Ode to Babel is an outlier: its brand of chic is one that embraces anyone, who comes without pretense. And the cocktails are dynamite. (HOW GREAT OF A WRITER IS SACHA?!?)
71 Sixth Avenue (between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue)
You know those times when you can only find a babysitter for a short time (or you know you have a big day following), but you just need to get out and you NEED a martini, stat? Well, Sweet Polly is the tonic for those times. Loosen up with oysters and a martini (or two), in environs that mimic haunts of fancy-free 20-somethings, even though there are X-ennial parents surrounding you.
552 Vanderbilt Avenue at Dean Street
Is there a more perfect blend of star chef and neighborhood restaurant to be found? Akhtar Nawab’s Mexican-inspired menu is sumptuously satisfying, and the energy of the restaurant is one that never feels rushed. There’s always a sense that the diner is controlling the pace of the meal, even if this isn’t the case. It’s a wonderful thing for a parent, to feel as though you’re allowed to linger – over your plate, your cocktail, your companion.
605 Carlton Ave at St. Marks Ave
Ah, James. Tucked away under fragrant boughs one of Brooklyn’s most charming blocks, its bar glittering in the evening candlelight…this swoon-worthy locale is an ideal place to step out with visiting family, or to catch up on grown-up conversation during date night. There can be a bit of a wait on weekends, but on burger night (each Monday) you are likely to walk right in!
Park Place between Washington Avenue and Classon Avenue
After a recent renovation, Stroud Playground is a jewel of the NYC Parks Department. It was designed to provide a gathering space for multiple generations, and does so beautifully. There are playgrounds for young and older children, areas designated for different sports, exercise equipment, and benches abound.
PS 9 Schoolyard
St Marks Avenue between Vanderbilt Avenue and Underhill Avenue
When school is out, this playground is it! Freshly painted murals envelop this large, concrete park, and there is plenty of space to practice riding bikes without training wheels, scoot with abandon, and play tag.
Dean Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue
There’s often as much to see as there is to do, at this park. The large pitch is often home to pick-up soccer games, played by teams of immigrants from across the globe, and little league games played by Brooklyn’s youngest. The basketball courts frequently host thrilling, teen tournaments. The playground itself is often watched over by longtime neighborhood residents, who look out for all of the kids and share tales of a city (and a neighborhood) gone by.
SWEET TREATS AND CAFFEINE
The Bakery on Bergen
740 Bergen Street (between Washington Ave and Underhill Ave)
This year, my family has ordered four cakes from the Bakery on Bergen. And we eagerly anticipate ordering at least two more. Proprietor Akim Vann always manages to treat her neighborhood customers as well as her celebrity clientele. Her custom confections (traditional and gluten-free) amuse the palate and please the eye, and are also available as small bites in this Bergen Street storefront.
Blue Marble Ice Cream
168 Underhill Ave (between Park Place and Sterling Place)
In a neighborhood, and a borough, filled with whimsical and foodie-focused ice cream parlors, Blue Marble is a welcome respite. Its straightforward flavors will evoke nostalgia for adults while accompanying the creation of new memories for children. Enjoy a scoop to go, or hang around the playroom-like indoor dining area or low-key outdoor garden. How joyful to eat “organic”, in such organic surroundings.
The Little Cupcake Bakeshop
598 Vanderbilt Avenue (between St. Marks Ave and Park Place)
The Prospect Heights location of this NYC chain is a family favorite (for this family, anyway). I venture that they offer one of the best cheesecakes in New York City, and it’s served in a mini version that’s just enough for two. My kids are particular fans of their German-style soft pretzels year-round. During the cooler months, they love ordering the “warm chocolate” that comes with a little kid-friendly straw!
671 Washington Ave (between St. Marks Ave and Prospect Place)
The Islands restaurant, long beloved, borough wide, for its savory Caribbean cuisine, accomplished the impossible: when displaced by a luxury high-rise development, it re-opened in the same neighborhood, in a bigger location. Now fans of their (ultimate) jerk and (my personal favorite) calypso shrimp have the option to dine-in or take-out.
Triple D’s Place
771 Washington Ave (between Sterling Place and St. Johns Place)
As someone who grew up in the Toronto suburbs as the child of Caribbean parents, the Jamaican patty and Ting soft drink hover near the top of my savory snack hierarchy. Fortunately, I live in Prospect Heights, a neighborhood in which Caribbean life has long thrived, and thanks to Triple D’s, fresh Jamaican patties and ice cold Tings are just a short walk from my home. If you like a little spice and haven’t tried this combo, I highly recommend that you do.
Brooklyn’s Homeslice Pizza
567 Vanderbilt Ave (between Dean Street and Pacific Street)
When you live in Brooklyn, it’s easy to take good pizza for granted, but great pizza always makes an impression. Homeslice’s pies have garnered compliments from many a jaded New Yorker, not to mention the pickiest of toddlers, anywhere I’ve seen it served. It’s simply enjoyable – pretty much the kid culinary ideal.
602 Vanderbilt Avenue (between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place)
R&D Foods is a gourmet grocery and café with a warm staff and the best selection of BjornQorn popcorn that I’ve seen yet. It’s a wonderful place to stop in for a treat – whether an old-fashioned donut, the aforementioned (expensive but addictive) popcorn, or a delectable, take-out dinner for two!