BRIKA’s Best: Guide to Brooklyn

BRIKA's best Makers New York travel

Other than their beautiful handmade products, we love to mine our Makers for a wealth of information, ideas and inspiration. And when it comes to our travel guides, who better to dish on top spots than somebody who has lived in the city in question? Enter Layla Kraus, a BRIKA Maker, photographer and Brooklyn resident (who has been living in the borough for ten years this month!). We asked Layla to roundup her favorite spots to see, eat, drink and do in New York's hottest borough. To see Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Flatbush/Crown Heights When I need to recharge, I love to take a walk through the Botanic Gardens or neighboring Prospect Park to be reminded that even in the city, nature still surrounds us. I love to draw, and I take a lot of inspiration from botany—even in the dead of winter, you can suddenly be in the midst of a tropical rainforest when you step inside the Steinhardt conservatory. The Celebrity path leads through parts of the garden, with the names of Brooklyn-born writers, artists and musicians inscribed along the path. I love this tribute to such a creative group of people. The Sketchbook Project, Williamsburg The Sketchbook Project is a huge—nearly 35,000!—library of sketchbooks that are searchable by artist, theme, year and medium. When you check out a sketchbook, you’ll also get the book that sits next to it on its shelf, so the surprise of not knowing what you’ll get is exciting. I always think I will donate a sketchbook, but it's so hard to part with mine! IMG_2156

Brooklyn Print by Layla Kraus

To shop: Swallow, Carroll Gardens Swallow is a store that specializes in beautiful objects of all shapes and sizes, from books and jewelry to vases and wall hangings. I’ve had my eye on the cast rose branches for a while now. It’s a great spot for unique gifts, or just to browse around and get inspired. To eat: It’s so hard to narrow down my favorite places to eat! Here are a few of my top picks: …to name a few! There's always a new place to try, or an old haunt I haven't been to in forever—too many to keep track of. My favorite person to eat with is my nephew Malachi. When he finally decides to come visit, I will definitely take him to these two spots: Geido Sushi, Park Slope/Prospect Heights There's something about this place that I love. It's nothing fancy, just good food and a laid back, welcoming staff. I always get the Hijiki Salad and Chirashi! Plus, their wall of graffiti is fun to look while I eat. Doughnut Plant, Park Slope/Prospect Heights This place is no secret, but it lives up to its reputation. I can't walk by it without treating myself, and their seasonal and unusual flavors always catch my eye. My regular favorites have got to be the Tres Leches, Cake Donut and Crème Brûlée Doughseed. Brooklyn Bridge print

Brooklyn Bridge by Layla Kraus

To drink: These two spots are fairly new, but I'm excited about what they add to my neighborhood. New places tend to be a sensitive topic in a changing area, but these two places in particular seem to embrace the spirit of what the neighborhood held before the changes began. Erv's, Flatbush Erv’s is a coffee shop during the day and a bar at night that serves up a great selection of liquor and well-crafted cocktails. Where else can you get good tequila and a chocolate croissant? Brooklyn Greenery, Flatbush Brooklyn Greenery is great for smoothies, juices, and Acai bowls. I usually get the "Brooklyn Green," and love it when it comes with a fresh piece of starfruit on top! You can tell that the owners of this spot had a vision, and saw it through. The smoothies are delicious, there's always good music playing and the art on the walls changes. Something about this place just feels positive. Photo credit in main image collage: Top left image: The Sketchbook Project, top right: Kate Ignatowski, bottom left: The Doughnut Plant, bottom right: Apartment Therapy.

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