If you associate Red Hook with IKEA hell, you would be forgiven for not going beyond that Swedish nightmare to see all that Red Hook has to offer.
Red Hook is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn. This is for two reasons: one, it's quieter than a lot of areas in Brooklyn and two, it's got lovely parks on the water. Okay, three reasons: and it's a lot less crowded than the rest of Brooklyn.
After spending the entire day in front of a computer, when my partner asked what I wanted to do tonight, I knew exactly where I wanted to go: Red Hook's Valentino Pier. I wanted to sit outside and take in the sunset and some much needed Vitamin D rays.
I will fully admit, I am in love with Red Hook and if you're looking for a quiet park with beautiful views, Valentino Pier will quickly become your favorite place, too. It's not easy to get to, that's for sure. In fact, if you don't have a car or a bike, you're looking at a subway ride following a trip on a bus to get Red Hook. They don't make it easy to get to Red Hook, but it's absolutely worth the trip.
This view is from the end of the Pier looking out to where the Hudson and East River flow into the Upper New York Bay.
It doesn't get more beautiful than the Statue of Liberty at sunset and Red Hook has it every single night. The best thing about this park is that you can bring your family for a picnic and watch the boats go by. Also, fishing is permitted on the pier so don't forget your fishing pole (and if you can somehow manage to get your fishing pole on the subway, please send me a picture!).
Lastly, did I mention how QUIET it is here? Seriously, during the week there are hardly any people around and it is a phenomenal place to sit back and just listen to the waves crashing against the rocks. Yes, it's that quiet.
After we watched the sunset, we were more than ready for dinner so we headed to Hometown Bar-B-Que.
Hometown Bar-B-Que is a counter-service restaurant that is located across the street from Fairway and right next to the Crab Shack in Red Hook. As I got out of the car, I inhaled the smell of sweet, smoky barbeque. Having read on Yelp that Hometown has the "best barbeque outside of Texas" and that the food blog Eater had recommended it as the number one place for barbeque in New York, I had high expectations.
The inside of Hometown reminds me of a rustic barn, with first-come, first-serve tables and two bars. On the weekends, it even has live music. But honestly, if the food wasn't good, I couldn't care less about the ambiance.
Hometown exceeded every single expectation I had. We ordered the brisket with mac and cheese and cornbread for our sides. Holy Mac and Cheese Glory was it good! It was literally finger-licking good. My partner and I shared the food and were absolutely stuffed afterwards.
So if you're looking for a little day trip within New York City, try Red Hook. The food, parks, and people will not disappoint. Just don't share how amazing it is with too many people!
By Kate Davey