We’ve been attending the Dumbo Arts Festival for a few years and generally enjoy a full day there. But for the past two years we’ve noticed a steep decline in the quality of the ‘Open Studio’ art. There are plenty of other things to check out, but isn’t the artist kind of the point of this whole thing? Perhaps not anymore, with the rise of the corporate sponsor. There were signs of Chase Liquid, Toyota and AT&T everywhere. For an AT&T sponsored event, one could at least expect a useable App! Anyway, we did make a great time of it and managed to get some cool photos. The crowd there is very eclectic ‘Brooklyn’ with more adult hipster types than the young ones. Its people watching at its best. We also visited several bars and restaurants worth checking out.
Let’s start with getting there…if you live in Manhattan, be sure to check for weekend MTA service changes. It is never easy on the weekend! We live in downtown Manhattan and generally walk, but a recent foot injury made me think twice about 8 hours of walking to include both ways across the Brooklyn Bridge. So we started our journey on the 4 train to transfer to the 6 where we’d pick up the F train at the newly remodeled Bleeker Street Hub. It was just completed on 9/25 and it is a great improvement – just not on the weekends. Sorry, no F train to Brooklyn! Please transfer to the A train. Needless to say, an hour later we arrive in Dumbo. This prompted us to immediately hit the first restaurant/bar for a re-group!
There’s a gorgeous space at the corner of Front & Fulton Street that has changed ownership a few times over the years. The latest iteration is called Gran Electrica, which is an upscale Mexican restaurant serving lovely tacos and ceviches and offering a large menu of tequila and tequila cocktails. It has a stunning new wood bar, two dining rooms and a large outdoor space. The bar has some rather creative day of the dead wallpaper, which reminds me of something from FlavorPaper, a wallpaper company out of Brooklyn who did the wallpaper at Brooklyneer. Must be them.
While this spot hasn’t gotten any rave reviews, it sure is attractive and they’ve got descent food. We’d go back for sure. I was slacking on the iPhone pics at this point, so here are some pro shots right from their website. Quite unfortunately, they don’t make it easy to lift the shots, so check out the ‘Gallery’ on their website for more flash embedded pics, particularly of the shrimp ceviche, which I really enjoyed.
To follow are a series of images from throughout Dumbo. We met some cool people along the way from an amazing florist to a girl who drove from California with a portable herb garden to a grafftti artist who’s also a tattoo artist. We met a curator from the New York Foundation for the Arts at a bar and saw a fantastic band playing on a loading dock…we also had a Dave Cross sighting (from Arrested Development) at Wild Rise Pizza/Bar on Jay St.
Check out the end for a list of bars and restaurants we visited during our 7 hour journey! Next time you’re in Dumbo for any reason, these are spots worth having a drink or nosh. We even attempted to get into Governor, the new ‘foraged foods’ hot spot.
Regarding the lack of quality art at the artist studios, we later discovered the NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) actually sponsors these artists and pays for their over the top spaces. Hmmm. Worth looking into! We could not fathom how in the world these artists could be supporting themselves as well as paying for 1500 square feet of space in DUMBO. When we went many years ago, there were far more talented artists who have now moved to Gowanus, New Jersey and other outlying areas because of cost. Sad.
We did miss the light show, which I do regret. Here’s what it looks like.
But we managed to catch the last ferry at 8pm to Pier 11 Wall St. from Brooklyn Bridge Park, which seemed like more fun than navigating the subway back home! We stopped at the Elevated Acre on South Street on the walk home.
DUMBO RESTAURANTS & BARS:
5 Front St – DUMBO
See review and photos above. Recommended.
126 Front St. – DUMBO
This place has a great vibe. Its a bit mid-century modern looking. Always packed. Interesting bar with two levels. There’s a free pool table on the upper level. Food is mediterranean, but we’ve never eaten there.
147 Front St. – DUMBO
Rebar has a second floor location on Front Street. It is truly a GIGANTIC space with two bars, dining, indie cinema and most recently, they cater weddings. Yep, weddings. It has a totally medieval vibe going on and an energetic vibe. The employees all wore Brooklyn shirts yesterday, which they were peddling on the street as well. The food looks descent and they bill themselves as a gastropub.
Water Street Restaurant and Lounge
66 Water St. – DUMBO
We’ve been to this spot every time we go to DUMBO, so I can say with confidence DO NOT EAT HERE. And the drinks ain’t so hot either. Skip it if you can. But often there are available seats at the long bar. This is another spot with gigantic space and a downstairs that can be rented out. Again, for weddings.
68 Jay St. – DUMBO
This spot has been open for about a year and likely will last a long time. They make a stunning pizza. And there is a huge bar attached – Jay St. Bar, which is a collaborative effort. Eat in the dining area or at the packed bar. We came close to making this our food choice, but wanted to see if we could get into Governor. Big mistake. Going back to this spot. Two seats over from me at the bar, David Cross from Arrested Development. Not a soul noticed.
Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar
Brooklyn Bridge Park
This is the second time we ate at Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar, an outdoor space right in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The views of the bridges are stunning and it is nicely lit at night. Overall, gorgeous spot, but the food is just mediocre stand food. It hits the spot when you are walking around, but don’t expect much. I recommend this one for when you explore Brooklyn Bridge Park because it is one of the few stands offering seating. Check out our day in the park review Brooklyn Bridge Concession Stand Tour and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
15 Main St. – DUMBO
We could not get in. Booked until 10pm. But it looks fantastic. Somebody let us know how it is if you go!