We live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Sort of. People who live in “center Slope” — the heart of the brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood both loved and reviled for its rabidly family-centric reputation — might disagree. But to me, it’s still Park Slope. Just really south. Hit Fifth Avenue, hang a left, and keep walkin’ south.
You might also see the nabe noted on maps as Greenwood Heights, as it’s very near New York‘s famed Green-Wood Cemetery. But, whatever. I’m sticking with Park Slope South.
We used to live on the much more scenic, tree-lined streets closer to Prospect Park in the middle of the ‘hood, but we traded in our 1-bedroom co-op for a little house with a yard, and so here we are. Still in Brooklyn instead of the ‘burbs, and happy about that.
Things may not be as fancy down our way — lots more houses with ’70s siding than stately brownstones — but there’s still a family-friendly vibe, with lots of couples with young children flooding into the area. Housing is more affordable and it’s less congested, which makes parking easier.
We like to talk the place up and feel as if we’re doing our small part to keep families from moving to New Jersey. So here are a few of the reasons why we love the South Slope:
P.S. 295 — The local elementary school we’re zoned for. We didn’t go crazy with checking on schools before we bought our house because Jasper was only 1 year old when we moved in and we just couldn’t wrap our minds around it then. But, luckily, it’s a good school — it’s a magnet school for the arts, boasts tons of parental involvement, and scored an “A” on the city’s school report card program. Take that, overcrowded P.S. 321 in “center Slope!” (They scored a “B.”)
Eagle Provisions — This old Polish market way pre-dates our arrival — the store has been on Park Slope’s 5th Avenue since the 1930s. You’ll find little old ladies coming in for the house-made kielbasa, but also hipsters perusing the vast selection of international beers and young moms picking up fancy sea salts and organic milk. The guys who work here are gruff, but they know where every last jar of whatever it is you’re looking for is. And whatever you’re looking for, they probably have.
Has Beans & Southside Coffee — You can totally get an expertly-made cappuccino in our neck of the woods, and at local establishments packed with more character than 7th Avenue’s Starbucks. Hit Has Beans on 5th Avenue and Southside up on 6th, mere steps away from P.S. 295.
Little Buddy Biscuit Company — This one’s a newcomer to the community, and we’re glad they’ve arrived. Yummy baked goods, tasty lunch options, strong coffee in the winter, and delicious ice cream in the summer. It’s super kid-friendly — they often have kid-sized cookies and cupcakes, and they’re constantly doling out adorable Little Buddy stickers and pins.
Lopez Bakery — This longtime Brooklyn fave has bounced around to numerous 5th Avenue locations. When we first moved to the ‘hood, they were in a little sliver of a place right around the corner between 18th and 19th Streets — now they’ve moved a couple doors down to bigger digs. You can get good baguettes and hearty whole wheat Alsatian bread — and we do — but we really love their tamales and empanadas.
ScratchBread + Toby’s Public House — A CIA grad named Matthew Tilden bakes his amazingly delicious scones, shortbread, and more in the brick ovens at Toby’s when the place isn’t busy turning out thin-crust pizzas (read more about ScratchBread and Tilden on Edible Brooklyn). You can sample his goods at Cafe Grumpy, Bklyn Larder, and Get Fresh. The pies at Toby’s are delicious, too, and make for a speedy take-out dinner for the kids — they are in and out of the oven in literally a few minutes.
Under Minverva — OK, I’ve never actually been *inside* this place, but I like having a funky art gallery/yoga/event space around the corner from my house. It makes me feel all edgy and hip. A recent show involved a lot of cool-looking white stuff in the window and a cute live bunny hopping all around. We strolled by with the kids to see the rabbit one afternoon and a staffer (artist? owner? unclear) brought him out for the kids to see and pet. Pretty sweet.
Prospect Park YMCA Sports Complex at The Armory — This 114-year-old building, on 8th Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, just got an impressive $16 million dollar renovation. It’s now home to a new sports complex run by the local Y, whose main branch is farther north, on 9th Street. In addition to offering the same classes and fitness equipment available on 9th Street, the facility will operate as a recreation center for kids from nearby public schools that may not have gyms. Magnolia (who declined to be photographed) and I went today to check it out and I can tell you that 1) it is vast, 2) there’s a gorgeous running track, and 3) some of the beautiful original wood floors and big mahogany armoires used for I-have-no-idea-what remain intact throughout the various hallways and fitness rooms.
Here it is….
Fonda — A new South Slope Mexican eatery from a chef with authentic cred — Roberto Santibanez was born in Mexico City, trained in Paris, and served as executive chef at Fonda San Miguel in Austin, Texas before moving to New York to become Culinary Director for Rosa Mexicano. In short: I am psyched!
An abundance of Dollar Stores — Yep, there are more of them in the South Slope than in the tonier North, and it’s true that they are a major eye sore. But with little kids, parents find them endlessly useful. Need a cheap distraction or quick bribe? Gotta stuff goody bags for a birthday party? A Dollar Store’s your next stop, mama, and you can’t swing a dead cat and not hit one down where I live.
There. Now I hope I have prevented you from moving to New Jersey.