From Animal Collective to MGMT, so many bands have emerged from the effervescent music scene in Brooklyn, it’s become a reference all over the world. But the DIY spirit in Brooklyn isn’t limited to music: the little shops, bars, and restaurants here certainly have their own special vibe. With a tiki bar serving Mexican dishes, a shop selling handmade clothing, a concert venue that looks like a train carriage, and more — there are lots of unique spots to discover starting with these five places taken from our city guide, Indie Guides Brooklyn.
El Cortez: Delicious mexican food in a tiki paradise
Need a break after exploring Bushwick galleries, graffiti, and DIY venues? Tucked on a nondescript street in industrial Bushwick is a Tiki and Tex-Mex paradise. While you munch on queso and guacamole and sip perfectly prepared (and strong) tiki drinks, the decor and atmosphere – not to mention the rum in your drink – will transport you to a strange tropical island full of Brooklyn rockers, trend-setters and people who love a good taco and a Mai Tai. In nice weather the rooftop bar is jam packed and often features DJ sets.
17 Ingraham Street, NY 11206 Brooklyn
Open Monday through Saturday from 4pm to 4am
Flirt: Handmade clothes, vintage accessories and sewing lessons
This cute boutique is a South Brooklyn staple and offers handmade clothes for women with an independent, creative streak. An actress, dancer, and musician started Flirt over 15 years ago to offer fun clothes for women like themselves and outfits you won’t find anywhere else. They also offer custom designs and sewing classes if you are inspired to make your own unique piece.
586 5th Avenue, NY 11215 Brooklyn
Open Monday through Sunday from 11:30am to 7:30pm
Permanent Records: Record shop with highly coveted and collectible LPs
Record nerds rejoice, you have a friend at Permanent Records. Rare and collectible vinyls, new releases and surprising finds from many genres, especially punk, indie, blues, experimental classic and psychedelic rock, abound in this well edited, welcoming store. You can also find $2 records of show tunes and musicals. Tucked into a nondescript building in a local co-working space, consult the store’s Facebook page for weekly updated hours. Before your bag is heavy with records, take a walk in nearby Green-Wood Cemetery and dream about your upcoming record haul as you admire the Gothic architecture.
159 20th Street, #1B, NY 11232 Brooklyn
Open Wednesday through Saturday from 12am to 7pm
Pete’s Candy Store: A stalwart of the Williamsburg scene
A beautiful venue for acoustic and quieter bands, the wooden ceiling and side benches give you the sense of being in a railway car full of other musical passengers. Pete’s has been a stalwart of the Brooklyn music scene for years and is one of the nicest places to see a band, whether local or traveling. In addition, there’s an inviting back garden and front bar serving unpretentious cocktails and delicious sandwiches.
709 Lorimer Street, NY 11211 Brooklyn
Open Monday through Wednesday from 5pm to 2am, Thursday from 5pm to 4am, Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 4am and Sunday from 4:00pm to 2am
Barbes: A little bit of Paris, and balkan brass, in Brooklyn
If you ever wanted to get from Barbes-Rochechouart to 9th street, this place provides the way.The dark, wood paneled bar is decorated with the names of stops on the number 2 metroline in Paris, mixed with the F train in Brooklyn. The bar serves excellent beer, wine and cocktails and the back performance space hosts popular balkan brass, experimental jazz, latin, singer-songwriter and folk nights. Barbes is where many leading musicians get their start and is a showcase for Brooklyn-based talent.
376 9th Street, NY 11215 Brookly
Open Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 2am, Friday and Saturday from 2pm to 4am and Sunday from 2pm to 2am
Discover more alternative and cultural spots in Brooklyn with our city guide Indie Guides Brooklyn.
Photos: courtesy of the places mentioned