In 2007, when Sarah Mendelsohn was only sixteen years old, she launched her fashion blog ‘A hit of Sarah’, a platform for emerging designers that grew to a larger project where she produced and photographed own editorials. Now, nine years later, the allrounder writes on her website about beauty, music and travel as well. But that’s not enough for this true superwoman: she has written for Billboard Magazine, Details Magazine and Lucky Magazine, has had photography exhibitions (watch out for her polaroid photos) and works now as a Social Media manager for cosmetics brand Maybelline New York. She creates the company’s social content and does makeup tutorials on their channels that led to her being recognized on the streets on New York and even London.
The Frame of Mind asked this urban and creative head to show us around in her NYC neighborhood and to reveal her favorite hangouts:
New York City is the largest city in the United States; it’s also one of the most talked about. With over 8 million citizens, thousands of features in films and television shows, and tourists flying in from around the world to see the big apple – most people think to know New York. To people who’ve visited the big apple, they think they’ve seen it all once they’ve laid eyes on Times Square, the Empire State Building, or Central Park – but there’s a lot more to it. The greatest thing about living in New York is that you’ll never see or live all of it.
Throughout the city of New York there are numerous, charming, hidden pockets familiar only to those who live in them. The street that marks the border of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill Neighborhoods, Franklin Avenue is one of them. This street and neighborhood surrounding it represent Brooklyn better than almost any other. Historic brownstones make up the neighborhood and filling up the space between them are restaurants, stores and other businesses that cater either to the art students of Clinton Hill’s Pratt Institute or the African American community that has populated most of Bed-Stuy for decades. It’s interesting for sure – a soul food restaurant that sits on the same block as a vegan bakery. You can have it all here.
So let’s begin at the most famous place in this neighborhood, Dough, located on the corner of Franklin and Lafayette Avenues. When I first moved to Franklin Avenue many of the people asked me, “have you been to Dough”? Dough is a doughnut shop that sells what anyone in New York can attest to being the best doughnuts ever. At 4am the lights in the doughnut shop are lit and you can see bakers carefully working on creating the most delicious morning treats from dawn until dusk when the doughnut shop closes.
Flavors range from the perfect and light Cinnamon Sugar doughnut, to the exotic Hibiscus doughnut, and to the indulgent Nutella doughnut. Each doughnut has its own unique, delicious, flavor and a story behind it. Dough and its delicious doughnuts have become an important part of the neighborhood. Every Sunday morning, you’ll find a long line of church go-ers waiting for their post sermon treat. Within the last few years, these doughnuts have become so famous that they could not limit themselves to Franklin Avenue. Dough doughnuts are now distributed throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan proudly representing their small Bed-Stuy neighborhood.
Just a short walk away from Dough, only 1 block down Franklin Avenue to the corner of Clifton Place you’ll find the perfect summer spot. Chilo’s is a bar that has a backyard filled with picnic tables and a taco truck to feed the bar’s guests. It’s reminiscent of Williamsburg’s ‘Union Pool’, however unlike Union Pool there are rarely ever tourists at this bar. Throughout the summer and into the fall, there is always laughter and music coming from Chilo’s. Their tacos are delicious and their drinks unbeatable. It’s the perfect date nightspot or friendly hang, a place so true to summer in Brooklyn.
For a bit of different vibe at night there is Bedford Hill that’s located one block away from Chilo’s at the corner of Franklin and Greene Avenues. For me, Bedford Hill has always been the perfect meeting place no matter the time of day. It opens every morning at 7am and quickly transforms into a bustling café. Though, it’s not like other Brooklyn cafes. The interior of Bedford Hill is familiar, like a friend’s living room. The tabletops are a bright yellow, there’s old artwork on the walls and worn in chairs to sit in. The café is charming; it has a distinct character to it. It’s a comfortable spot to do work in, or have breakfast with your friends at. I frequently visit the café on the weekends with my boyfriend. We love getting Bedford Hill’s warm coffee and toasted bagels and sitting on the benches outside watching our neighbor’s walk down Franklin Avenue with their dogs.
Later in the day, Bedford Hill converts into a small, romantic bar. Lit in dim lighting the menu offers an array of craft beers and small production wines. It’s great for a laid back first date, or a meeting with an old friend – a place that has personally served best as both for me.
Across the street from Bedford Hill is the most unique business in this neighborhood. When I first moved to Franklin Avenue, I was amazed to find ‘One Last Shag’, a bar and dance hall unlike any other. The windows are decorated with curtains made of beads, the interior wall papered, and the drinks inexpensive. It also has a backyard, open during the summer to extend its dance floor further. It’s become widely known as a gay bar and with the occasional drag party you’ll often walk by on it with weekends to see a handful of beautiful men dressed in sparkles, feathers, and gold. One Last Shag has always provided the best dance party and during the week, a great place to have drinks.
If you leave One Last Shag and make a left, one block down on Greene Avenue, you’ll find the hidden treasure of bakeries, ‘Clementine Bakery’. It’s odd that a vegan, organic, bakery can create such delicious treats without any eggs or milk. I’m personally addicted to their scones, which change in flavor daily. Who knew that lavender, lemon scone could be so delicious? Or that blueberries and coconut would be such a perfect pair? With both unique and familiar flavors, this bakery creates treats that are totally unique to them. Their cupcakes are amazing as well – they’re not incredibly sweet or drenched in frosting, but rather hearty and just the perfect amount of added sweetness. Clementine creates baked goods that are easy to get addicted to. You are warned.
Across the street from Clementine Bakery on the corner of Classon and Greene Avenues is the famous, Speedy Romeo. If New York is known for its pizza, Speedy Romeo does not disappoint. It’s a place that also may look familiar to those who have never visited it. It serves as the set for many of Lena Dunham’s “Girls” episodes. However, it’s not really Café Grumpy, but actually a very popular Pizza restaurant. The pizzas there are mouth wateringly good – a personal favorite of mine is their “The Kind Brother” made up of wild mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, farm egg, and sage it’s one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever had. Whenever I take friends out there, I also recommend “The White Album” pizza that’s made of roast garlic, ricotta, provel, pecorino, and béchamel. It’s the creamiest white slice you will ever have.
After you’ve enjoyed some of the best pizza New York City has to offer, continue on Greene Avenue for one more block and you will see the storefront of Su’Juk. This little place is a gem. In a city filled with some of the best shopping in the world, this small store still provides something special. Su’Juk is half clothing/lifestyle store and half beauty salon. You can get your haircut, colored, and more and then enjoy vintage treasures and clothing designed by Brooklyn locals. Some of my favorite pieces came from this store and whenever I buy something there, I know it’s something unique, something I feel that only I can get. I bought a pair of 90’s vintage Prada platforms for $90 that have become a summer staple. I also bought hair products I haven’t seen sold anywhere else – that make my curls tight, frizz free and smell lovely no matter the time of year.
And here you can find all the hot spots:
Photography and words by Sarah Mendelsohn
City map by Victoria Maly