Lauren Bush Lauren may share a vine-covered West Village townhouse with her husband, David Lauren, and their son, James, but on weekends, you'll likely find her strolling around in an entirely different part of town: Brooklyn's waterfront in DUMBO. The former model and designer, now CEO and co-founder of FEED, had her eye on the neighborhood for years before she chose it as the location of choice for her company's first brick-and-mortar store, the FEED Shop & Café, earlier this spring. "The shop officially opened this May, but we spent months before that traveling back and forth between FEED HQ in Meatpacking and the DUMBO location to make sure everything was perfect," says Lauren. "I've always loved DUMBO, so opening our first store here was a dream come true."
Lauren is not the only Manhattanite to flee the skyscrapers in favor of greenery, an authentic flair, and unbeatable water views. DUMBO—short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass—made famous by the Humphrey family in Gossip Girl, has attracted many big names in the hospitality world in recent years, from 1 Hotels, which opened its first Brooklyn location earlier this year, to Soho House, which is reported to be launching its third New York location there this fall. But despite the glamour and fanfare, DUMBO remains an area filled with rich New York history, cobblestones streets, and historic buildings. "It's so special to be in a neighborhood that still feels very authentic in a modern city like New York. The FEED Shop & Café is located in a building that was the first commercial production facility of roasted coffee. We still have the original brick walls and exposed wooden beams throughout the shop, which gives it a really special feel."
Empire Stores, a Civil War–era building on the waterfront that has been undergoing renovations for the past few years, is home to the FEED Shop & Café, along with other notable tenants such as Soho House's first public restaurant, Cecconi's, and the West Elm headquarters. "It's hard to beat the view from the Brooklyn Bridge Park," says Lauren. "DUMBO has stunning views of the city, and the bridge itself is iconic." We asked the social entrepreneur to give us a tour of her favorite Brooklyn neighborhood. From black-truffle pizza to cool vintage stores, you won't want to miss these DUMBO staples.
Smile to Go: "The original Smile in NoLIta has been one of my go-to spots for drinks and dinner with girlfriends since we hosted a FEED supper there a few years ago. I was so excited when the restaurant opened a more casual to-go outpost in Empire Stores just one storefront down from the FEED Shop & Cafe. I'm eyeing the manouri cheese and fig jam sandwich as the weather gets cooler."
Cecconi's: "The perfect place for special occasion dinners. You can't beat the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyline, and the nostalgic 'old New York' vibe. It's a splurge (in dollars and calories), but I literally dream about the black truffle, goat cheese, and leek pizza."
Juliana's Pizza: "For a great slice of pie, go to Juliana's Pizza. They take pizza-making seriously, as they have been doing it for decades. It's a Brooklyn go-to, and don't let the long lines outside deter you, as they are able to move people in and out quite quickly."
Forino at Pier 6: "During the warmer months, it's fun to get a beer on the rooftop here and watch the sand volleyball tournaments happening all night on Pier 6. This might be the most accessible place with such an enviable view of the skyline in Brooklyn."
1 Hotel Rooftop: "The scenic rooftop bar at the 1 Hotel has amazing views of NYC and the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a great spot for a drink, especially when there's a beautiful sunset to watch."
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge: "This place blew my mind the first time I walked in. It's seriously so beautiful thanks to the lush greenery by Harrison Green (who also did the greenery for the FEED store). My new recommendation for visiting friends who want a different New York experience."
Kid & Coe: "The best thing about DUMBO and neighboring Brooklyn Heights is the neighborhood feel and iconic brownstone streets. I've recommended this site to friends with kids who want an escape to Brooklyn with a local spin—all the listed homes are kid-approved, and they come with recommendations for things to do in the neighborhood with the little ones."
A.I.R. Gallery: "The A.I.R. Gallery is an artist-run organization that opened in 1972 that supports and highlights women artists. Galleries in DUMBO stay open late every first Thursday of the month, so I recommend going then and taking in many different galleries."
St. Anne's Warehouse: "This newly converted public theater already has a full lineup of shows. Plus it's conveniently located right next to Empire Stores."
Brooklyn Bridge Park: "If you ask me, this is New York's best-kept secret. Brooklyn Bridge Park surprises me with something new every time I visit. James, my adventurous toddler, loves Jane's Carousel and the room he has to run on the rolling grassy hills. I love the summer movie nights and hidden walking trails off the main path."
Kiddie Music Mornings: "Every Sunday morning at 10 a.m., the FEED Shop & Cafe is overtaken by adorable chubby babies and toddlers and their parents for an hour of guitar and singing. It's a nice way for parents to relax with a latte while their kids are entertained. Needless to say, you'll find me and James there many Sundays."
Brooklyn Flea: "One of my favorite places to go on a fall weekend. There are so many great artisan finds—it's fun to go and browse all of the antiques and crafts when the market is open on Sundays."
FEED Shop & Café: "No weekend is complete without a trip to our shop, of course. The FEED Heritage Blend by La Colombe is my favorite, paired with a City Bakery pastry, while I browse our curated FEED Finds. Every purchase there donates meals to those in need, including café treats."
Front General Store: "I like to mix vintage items into my wardrobe. Front General Store always has a selection of cool pieces with a Western flair."
And now, Hannah Bronfman shares her top East Village date spots (and they're good).