Local Flavor: Red Hook, Brooklyn

When I’m in the city, I try to make a pilgrimage down to Red Hook. A pilgrimage it is, after a train and bus ride down to the industrial dock area of Brooklyn, but it’s got a vibe unlike anywhere else in the city. Part desolate, part chic, and one of those places that you need to know where to find the good stuff. My good friend Zack DeZon personifies what you think of New York life: a well-dressed creative living in a beautiful loft in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Who better to show you the sights? Here are his Red Hook picks:
 1. Hometown BBQ: The proprietor of this Texas-style barbecue joint isn’t actually from Texas, but he took a pilgrimage there to study under some of the greats, and it must have worked! Every cut of meat there is delicious, but the brisket and beef ribs stand out above the rest as a culinary experience not to be missed.
 2. Red Hook Winery: When friends visit, I always try swing by this scenic warehouse on the water to take advantage of their $5 tasting menu. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and passionate, and the bold, unique, and sometimes esoteric flavors they get out of oft-maligned grapes like Merlot and Riesling are stupendous.
 3. Pioneer Works: Opened by artist Dustin Yellin, whose open studio is next door, this enormous warehouse and its oddly-sculpted side yard are home to a number of very talented artists working with their studios open for the public’s viewing. Plus, every 2nd Sunday of the month there’s a big party.
 4. Brooklyn Crab: Even though I’m not a huge seafood fan, it makes me happy to have this kitschy three-story crab shack in the neighborhood. It’s just a great spot to have a beer, play some Cornhole, and generally pretend you’re at an actual beach.
 5. Botanica: This cocktail bar has wonderful drinks and atmosphere, but its most notable aspect is the fact that it shares a wall with Cacao Prieto, one of Red Hook’s whiskey and rum distilleries (and a chocolate factory to boot). Most, if not all, of their signature drinks use either Widow Jane whiskeys or Due North Rum, and as an added bonus they even sell Nat Sherman cigars out of the adjacent pop-up shop during the warmer months.
 Oh, and besides being a foodie and tour guide extraordinaire, Zack DeZon is also an amazing photographer. Check out his work here.

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