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Crown Heights may have been anointed the next "up-and-coming" neighborhood by The New York Times, but it hasn't peaked at full-blown, chain store-stuffed popularity just yet. Instead, the area is buzzing with new businesses, delicious eats, talented artists, and a strong vintage game. After feasting on comfort food, caffeinating with strong coffee, and stocking up on pre-loved fashion and hard-to-find books, Ditmas Park—home of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—is a quick stroll away. Here's how to hit up the best of both neighborhoods in one Saturday.
Start your day on a Southern note with down-home cooking at Catfish (1433 Bedford Avenue). This cozy neighborhood spot serves up thoughtfully prepared comfort food with a side of spice. Tuck into chicken-fried steak with eggs, a catfish po'boy, or shrimp and grits, and complement your meal with a kick in the form of a Creole Bloody Mary.
Temporary tattoos, handmade chocolates, candles, greeting cards, jewelry, toys for babies, sweaters for dogs—Owl & Thistle General Store (833 Franklin Avenue) is full of the kinds of things you never knew you needed. The inventory is eclectic with a crafty, locavore slant. You'll find unique gifts, not to mention snacks from Brooklyn favorites like McClure's, Nunu and Brewklyn Grind Coffee & Tea Co.
Hullabaloo Books (711 Franklin Avenue) is just the kind of friendly bookstore you'd want on your corner. It's the sort of place where you can while away hours reading and browsing—the shop is small but filled with a well-rounded inventory. Added bonus? Hullabaloo has a "pay what you will" section.
Cool Pony (733 Franklin Avenue) isn't just a store—it's a hangout. Vintage items run the gamut from band tees to <b>Chanel</b> dresses. There are also records on hand, and Cool Pony often hosts live music at night—they even have a baby DJ school if you have a musically inclined little one.
Find the kinds of treasures you'd pick up on a global trek without leaving the neighborhood at Calabar Imports (708 Franklin Avenue). The mother-daughter duo behind this eclectic shop source their wares from countries around the world, with a focus on Africa. You'll find unique statement pieces with stories to tell, like vibrantly printed dresses, cane-handle totes, African shield sculptures, Aztec calendars and glass bead jewelry.
Stop by Lady J + 1 (679 Classon Avenue) to browse owner Jessica D'Amico's earthy, subtly mystical jewelry. The shop also houses clothing and toiletries by local artisans, like tie-dyed dress, soaps, and candles.
If you need a break from pounding the pavement, settle in a comfy chair at Breukelen Coffee House (764A Franklin Avenue). The shop is a neighborhood favorite, and serves up ever-popular Stumptown coffee. A new food menu offers seasonal veggie sandwiches, quiche and banana bread.
Take some coffee to go and stroll over to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (150 Eastern Parkway). Take advantage of the last few weeks of non-winter weather and wander the Japanese pond, herbal gardens and cherry esplanade.
End your excursion with a brew at Franklin Park (618 St. Johns Place). This beer hall has an outdoor patio so you can pick your perfect hangout spot depending on the weather. There's a good selection on tap, an arcade section, old-fashioned bar grub and a dance floor, so there's something for everyone here.
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