Looking for a way to get away without the hassle of taking a trip? Brooklyn Staycation is your guide to taking a breather without ever leaving the borough. Each week, we will zoom in on different Brooklyn neighborhood. Today, we will take you on a walk through Kensington and its surrounding area. Check out more Brooklyn Staycations here.
From quiet streets lined with trees and rowhouses to vibrant communities of immigrants from around the globe — from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Italy and Albania — Kensington is an incredibly diverse neighborhood nestled near the two lush and historical oases of Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park.
During your day in the neighborhood, treat yourself to cuisines from throughout the world, relax in a Turkish bathhouse, see the graves of Civil War generals and baseball legends at Green-Wood Cemetery, explore some of the 585 acres that make up Prospect Park, and much more.
How To Get There
To get to Kensington, take the F or the G subway lines to the Church Avenue or Fort Hamilton stops, or the F to the Ditmas Avenue or 18th Avenue stops.
You can also catch the B8, B16, B67, B68, B69, B70, and B103 local buses to our area, as well as the BM1, BM2, BM3, and BM4 express buses.
What To Eat
Kensington’s cuisine is an incredibly varied one, with everything from Middle Eastern to Mexican to Thai restaurants lining the neighborhood’s streets. Whether you’re in the mood for more traditional Americana dishes or want to embark on an international adventure for the palate, this is a great place to explore.
In the mood to just grab some coffee and go? Steeplechase (3013 Fort Hamilton Parkway) will leave you happily caffeinated — plus you can grab some sandwiches and pastries to go with your iced coffee or cappuccino at the spot that’s been named one of the top 10 coffee shops in the entire city. Or maybe you’d rather go the more traditional route and nab a bagel with your coffee — in that case, head straight for Hot Bagels (127 Church Avenue), a spot that we guarantee will dig a cream cheese-filled place into your culinary heart.
For those of you starting the day closer to Prospect Park, check out Elk Cafe (154 Prospect Park Southwest), a family-friendly coffee house that was recently opened by a Kensington resident, Kari Browne, who also owns the much-loved Lark Cafe (1007 Church Avenue).
If you’re in an organic state of mind, head to Brooklyn Commune (601 Greenwood Avenue), where you can grab breakfast (including a tofu scramble, cheese grits and more) until 12pm on weekdays and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Or if it’s Latin American fare you’re craving, nab the breakfast burritos at Moondos Grill (424 Church Avenue).
Feel like sitting a spell for brunch? Le Paddock (1235 Prospect Avenue) consistently lands heaps of love for its eggs benedict and more — plus it’s a great place to kick back, relax, and sip a bloody mary.
When your stomach starts rumbling around lunch and dinner time, take a walk down Church, McDonald, and Coney Island Avenues and prepare to take a culinary trip around the globe — Thai, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Pakistani — the options are practically limitless.
At MashAllah (663 Coney Island Avenue), you can have a feast of Pakistani food without breaking the bank — try the butter chicken, lamb and squash malai jamun (all of which costs about $20). Stuff yourself at Hunger Pang (1021 Church Avenue), which is owned by Kensington resident Medwin Pang and features an eclectic and drool-worthy menu focusing on American-Asian fare — we say go for the pulled pork poutine and yuzu margaritas.
Tacos El Catrin (265 East 7th Street) and El Mirador (59 Church Avenue) serve up Mexican dishes that will no doubt draw you in for more. And, speaking of places that will keep you coming back time and again, you’ll never go wrong with Brancaccio’s Food Shop (3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway), where the restaurant’s namesake, Joe Brancacccio, whips up a chicken parm and baked eggplant like you’ve never had before.
More in the mood for pizza? Relax with a pie and a glass of wine at Fina (3007 Fort Hamilton Parkway), or check out the deliciousness at Wheated (905 Church Avenue), where all the pizzas are named after Brooklyn neighborhoods — which means you better order the Kensington!
While there’s not much room to eat inside the relatively new Sawasde Thai Kitchen (359 McDonald Avenue), you can grab a bite from the restaurant that’s been getting rave reviews and try to snag a spot at one of its outdoor tables. Or, if it’s Middle Eastern treats you’re craving, get yourself to Batata (3021 Fort Hamilton Parkway), where we could practically live on the sweet potato falafel.
Local Watering Holes
Whether you have your sights set on grabbing a glass of wine while listening to some jazz or you’d rather grab a cheap pint and hang out by the jukebox, you’ll find it in our neighborhood.
At the newly debuted Church Bar (416 Church Avenue), you can imbibe a cocktail while admiring art from local artists on the walls and listening to the eclectic range of live music that’s often there, from Irish bands to DJs spinning international dance tunes. Still have a hankering for more music? At Bar Chord (1008 Cortelyou Road), musicians play everything from reggae to folk and jazz.
Also on the newer side, The Adirondack (1241 Prospect Avenue) offers up outdoor seating and frequent beer tastings alongside its cocktails and all-New York draft list that has landed it much love in the media spotlight.
If it’s dive-ier bars you’re looking for, our neighborhood has some of the best in the city, including Shenanigans (802 Caton Avenue) — where you can enjoy a Guinness in their back patio, or dance your heart out to tunes wafting from the jukebox — and Denny’s (106 Beverley Road), which, for decades, has been attracting people from throughout the area with its affordable ales.
For those of you planning your staycation for later this fall, make sure to stop by a longtime favorite in the area, 773 Lounge, which is expected to reopen in September after a devastating fire destroyed it last November.
Things To Do
Want to take it easy after all that food? Relax for a bit at Brooklyn Banya (602 Coney Island Avenue), a Russian-Turkish bathhouse that was recently lauded as one of the city’s best indoor activities — which you can enjoy while kicking back with the beer and wine they serve there (or the liquor you’re permitted to bring on your own). For those of you who are more into yoga, swing by Jaya Yoga (2902 Fort Hamilton Parkway), which just celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Whether you want to continue the slower pace or get your heart pounding again, Prospect Park is the place to go. A 585-acre oasis, there’s something for everyone, whether you want to go boating (for free!), take a Battle of Brooklyn monuments tour, or get your groove on at Lola Star’s roller skating parties — which are for those of you ages 21 and over and which features a variety of themes, from ’70s disco to Xanadu to goth.
For all of you animal lovers, don’t let yourself leave the park without seeing the horses at Kensington Stables (51 Caton Place), which offers trail riding, lessons, and more. Or, consider taking a stroll through the park with a companion — volunteers are always needed to walk the dogs looking for homes at Sean Casey Animal Rescue (153 East 3rd Street).
If you brought your bike on your staycation, strap on your helmet and head to Ocean Parkway — home to the country’s first bike path, which was established in 1894. The path runs from Ocean Parkway and East 8th Street in Kensington all the way to Coney Island.
Still pining for some more outdoor time? Head over to Green-Wood Cemetery — located right around the corner from Steeplechase, Brancaccio’s, Fina, and Batata (walk straight down Fort Hamilton Parkway and there’s no way you’ll miss it). Founded in 1838, the now-National Historic Landmark was one of the first rural cemeteries in the United States. By the early 1860s, the green haven became known across the country and attracted 500,000 visitors a year, who would flock there for family outings, carriage rides, and more.
Home to more than 560,000 graves — including those of Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Civil War generals, baseball legends, and more — Green-Wood is situated on 478 acres of hills, valleys, and paths that you could spend your entire day exploring. It’s also an incredible place for bird watching (and there are quite a few bees flying around as well).
If you don’t feel like meandering around Green-Wood by foot, you can also take trolley tours of the historic space, during which you’ll hear stories of the cemetery’s permanent residents, tread on the same ground where George Washington and his troops fought the Battle of Brooklyn (which the cemetery will commemorate on Sunday, August 30), and more.
Whatever you do, explore. Wander the streets. Talk to people. Learn about Kurosawa from a bartender at Hamilton’s. Chat with shop owners on McDonald, Church, and Coney Island Avenues about their past lives in Bangladesh — and around the globe. Most of all, have fun in this incredible corner of Brooklyn.
And that’s just the beginning. There are more great things to do in Kensington than we could possibly list here. If you’re curious for more, check out our sister site, KensingtonBK.