As part of our ongoing Insomniac Series, we ask notable night owls to reveal the watering holes, food spots, and neighborhood classics that thrive after hours.
Brooklyn, NYC is a global icon of “cool”—so what newspaper hasn’t already offered up some guide on the best way to plot our your late-night shenanigans? Still, we like to think that if you tap the right people, there’s a whole other world out there to explore and unravel.
For our first installment of the Insomniac’s Guide, we chatted with Erick Arc Elliott of The Flatbush Zombies to find out how a savvy local navigates the streets when the sun goes down in King’s County. The Flatbush native has seen his profile skyrocket as a rapper and producer in the hip-hop trio, and when he’s not working on new material during the day in the studio, Elliott is prowling the neighborhood (most likely with a dessert in hand).
“Just being outside in NYC is a hangout itself,” Elliott says.
From paying homage to a downtown Brooklyn icon, to breathing in the intoxicating aromas of Flatbush’s Jamaican restaurants, here are Elliot’s picks to truly owning late-night Brooklyn.
The G.O.A.T. Brooklyn dessert is still Junior’s cheesecake
Man, I know it’s kind of cliche, but I’m a pastry guy, and when you want to get cheesecake, Junior’s (386 Flatbush Ave Extension, 718-852-5257) is still a pretty cool place to go—especially since the downtown Brooklyn scene is just exploding. The sign impossible to miss when you come off the bridge and onto Flatbush Avenue. It’s such a huge deal because of the nostalgia. They still make good cheesecake—I can vouch for that. And if you’re going to get a meal there, you have to get the beef brisket sandwich on a house-specialty twin roll with mayonnaise and mustard—you have to have a toothpick to hold it all together. Shout out to my mother, she put me on to that shit. You can’t go wrong with that.
Man, there are so many things. There’s the Milk Bar (620 Vanderbilt Ave, 718-230-0844) that’s now in Brooklyn. I used to go to the one in the city, and they got cookies and little pies. They have milkshakes, but they have milk that already had cereal in it, and they just took the cereal out with the cereal remnants in it. That shit is so fire. (Photo: Facebook/Junior’s)
Flatbush is a mecca for Caribbean food
I’m from Flatbush, and my dad is Jamaican, so I always had the cultural aspect of the Caribbean. Now that’s late-night. You see people in the street with drums and you can smell the jerk chicken. It’s impossible to be in the neighborhood and not smell that aroma—you just follow the trail and get your food. It can be from any of those independent Jamaican restaurants on Church Ave. They’ve been there forever and still use the same cooks and styles—some homebrewed-type shit. One specific place I like to go is called Brooklyn Jerk Center (3523 Church Ave, 718-940-9379). I’ve been going to that restaurant since I was like seven or eight years old. Before I could even go there by myself, I was going there. That’s one of the spots. (Photo: Seamless)
Sober up with chicken and waffles in Williamsburg
If I’m in Williamsburg and want something similar, I go to Sweet Chick (164 Bedford Ave, 347-725-4793). Sweet Chick is fucking good. That spot is always jumping and it’s always late. Everybody in there is pretty much twisted or drunk or trying to get any source of food in their body to just sober themselves up, and I think it closes at, like, 2am, so you can go there any time. They got the chicken and waffles—man, that’s it right there. Sometimes they have like cherry-flavored waffles and all different types of rubs for the chicken.
That whole strip on Bedford Ave is full of people. I’ve never seen any of these places occupied with less than like 20 people. Sometimes there are so many people in these spots there’s people outside waiting and just fucking around until they get to go in to get food. Everybody’s loud and having a good time. It’s just fucking Brooklyn man. It’s a melting pot of all that shit. (Photo: Facebook/Sweet Chick BK)
…Or power through with ribs and whiskey
One place I frequent is the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N 6th St, 718-486-5400) because they’ve always got cool bands and shit. There are all these independent pubs right by the venue. I’m out there sometimes, mostly drinking. And there’s another spot, too, that’s similar called Fette Sau (354 Metropolitan Ave, 718-963-3404). It’s a barbecue joint, but they got beer and a bar. They have sides like beans and they have greens. I don’t really get the greens. I’m more of a ribs or brisket man. (Photo: Facebook/Fette Sau)
End the night on a rooftop bar (with a pastry, of course)
The shit I do at night is stuff I can’t do outside, you know? Unfortunately, some of the things I do are illegal, man, so I have to do it in the privacy of my house, so nighttime is more like social gatherings and going to shows.
Half of the time when you go and do a show, shit, you already had two or three beers, so by the time you get there you’re already kind of in the mood. And then you go to a rooftop party—after being at the bar so long—so you go home about 6 or 7am sometimes. So I guess my guide to late-night Brooklyn is eating pastries and getting drunk. That’s pretty much what I do. (Photo: Home Edit)