Life In Motion
In this delightful weather, we can’t help but dream of relaxing outside with a cup of coffee, perusing local shops with friends, or strolling into the nearest pub. Happy spring, LIC! Metro newspaper recently chronicled how to spend an ideal Spring day in Long Island City, complete with brunch, booze, art and laughs. Sounds right on the money!
Rebecca Finkel’s Metro piece, “Take a daytrip to Long Island City”:
This spring, spend a day in Long Island City, a neighborhood as rich in history as it is in great brunch spots.
A historic hub
Before the LIRR connected to Penn Station, LIC was the end of the line. Commuters awaiting ferries to Manhattan met at Tony Miller’s Hotel on Borden Avenue (now the fabulously kitschy Waterfront Crabhouse). Teddy Roosevelt drank there, as did architect Stanford White and actress Lillian Russell. By 1910, with expanded LIRR service and the opening of the Queensboro Bridge, LIC fell into decline. Ferries stopped running, and Prohibition turned Miller’s Hotel into a phonograph factory. LIC remained a quiet, industrial neighborhood until the late ’70s, when artists flocked to the area’s lofts. In the ’90s, new waterfront high-rises attracted young professionals and their families. Today, LIC it has reclaimed its status as a hub of vibrant people, culture and art.
10:30 a.m.: Eat
You can’t find a bad brunch on Vernon Boulevard, with El Ay Si, Cranky’s, Dorian Cafe, and Tournesol. We like 4-month-old Alobar (www.alobarnyc.com) for its superb bloody mary and its duck confit Sloppy Joe with smoked ricotta (pictured).
After brunch, head to Gantry Plaza State Park, a 10-acre waterfront walk with spectacular views of Manhattan. In addition to contemporary art Mecca MoMA PS1, LIC is home to three sculpture parks: The Noguchi Museum, Sculpture Center and the Socrates Sculpture Park.
Across the street from PS1 is 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, a 5-story warehouse covered in legal graffiti. Visit between May 12 and 20 for the LIC Arts Open (www.licartsopen.org), when hundreds of artists open their studios to the public.
3 p.m.: Drink
LIC has the kind of relaxed neighborhood bars that will make you think seriously about moving, or at least staying for another beer. In fair weather, grab an outdoor seat at Dominie’s Hoek (www.dominieshoek.com) or LIC Bar (www.licbar.com). Sweet Leaf (www.sweetleaflic.com) has a good selection of coffee and tea, which you can enjoy while playing DJ in their record room. Sage General Store (www.sagegeneralstore.com) has great baked goods; try the bacon brownie.
4 p.m.: Laugh
Wind down with open-mic stand-up at The Creek and Cave (www.creeklic.com), one of the area’s two comedy clubs. Free shows start at 4 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays.
We thought we’d break down a few key hot-spots for a cup of coffee (with plenty of iced options to survive the NY heat) – either on its own, or accompanied by a pastry or meal. Best thing about LIC is that these shops aren’t chains (not talking about Starbucks here, folks), but rather quaint local joints full of character and hospitality. The type of places you have a relaxing brunch with friends, bring a laptop for some inspired writing, or especially with Cranky’s Cafe’s plush sofas, curl up with the newspaper or a good book. Here’s to dining, drinking, and caffeinating in charming LIC!
Now this is good, quality coffee. The most unique drink on the menu: “Iced Rocket Fuel,” cold brewed coffee with chicory and maple syrup. Along with flavorful blends are freshly baked pastries – a variety of scones, muffins, cookies and cakes. We recommend Sweetleaf especially for those looking for a quiet space for laptop-ing, crossword-ing, or recharging.
In a free-standing building, renovated from it’s original 1950s structure as a mechanic’s garage, Breadbox Café is an airy, relaxed restaurant with wood and green accents. Good coffee, friendly people, great food. Take out or dine in, you’ll find plenty of delicious and fresh salads, sandwiches and wraps (including vegetarian & vegan options). Plus coffee of course. Come to BreadBox with friends, family or just yourself – but we recommend that you come hungry, the menu is too good to pass up!
Vegan Quinoa Salad
BreadBox Café . 4711 11st St . 718-389-9700
French music plays softly through the space, a shelf is stuffed with board games and books, people sink into couches or sit at tables around the room – this is Cranky’s Cafe, where the walls are appropriately sea foam green, relaxed yet elegant. A little bit of France in Long Island City, plus American influences like the chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes. Cranky’s also serves crepes, paninis, sandwiches, salads, entrees, and yes, teas and coffees. We recommend their chai latte – hot or iced, it hits the spot.
Cranky’s Cafe . 48-19 Vernon Blvd . 347-738-4921