Swaths of residential row houses, originally built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, still stand side-by-side in many parts of Sunset Park, uninterrupted by the stray glass facade of a new development. Architecture buffs also praise the way the neighborhood's bow-front brownstones coalesce to create a visual rhythm you don't find in many other parts of the city. (For prime examples, walk down 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, or 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.) There's a smattering of original Finnish coops, including the Alku and Alku Toinen (on 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth)—thought to be the first nonprofit cooperatives in NYC. In other parts of the neighborhood (like 40th Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues), you'll find a repetition of near-identical apartment buildings rendered in various color brick. Another local architectural attraction: St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, designed by beaux-arts architect Raymond F. Almirall. The church's beehive spire tops off what was once one of Brooklyn's tallest structures. And while Sunset Park doesn't have as burgeoning an art scene as some other up-and-coming neighborhoods, it does have Tabla Rasa, a gallery that often presents group shows in its turn-of-the-20th-century carriage house.
There's more to Brooklyn's Chinatown than just dim sum, of course. On Eighth Avenue alone, you can find eateries specializing in food from Fujian, Sichuan, Yunnan, and other provinces of China, not to mention the countries of Southeast Asia. Mister Hotpot—where the design is flashy, the music bumping—does a hip, youthful take on hot pot, in which diners flash cook thinly sliced meats in a boiling broth directly at the table. Don't let Metro Café's decidedly bland name fool you. This Szechuan eatery uses the cuisine's signature mouth-numbing peppercorn in its fiery-hot dishes, bringing new levels of heat to familiar dishes like mapo tofu as well as to more exotic ones like sliced tilapia swimming in red chili oil (approach with caution). Elsewhere, you can find Chinese dishes that are even more off the beaten path. Lucky Eight, for example, is known for its seafood delicacies, like sea cucumber and abalone, while Yun Nan Flavour Garden serves a nearly impossible-to-find dish known as "crossing-the-bridge noodles"—made with pork and black-skinned Silkie chicken, both of which are served raw in (and then get cooked by) the steaming hot broth. And although bahn mi—those Vietnamese sandwiches served on small, crusty baguettes—are all the rage now, it's worth making the trip to sample the superlative ones at Ba Xuyên, on Eighth Avenue. Two neighborhood grocery stores are also worth a visit, as they carry a wide selection of prepared foods, not to mention just about every Chinese ingredient you could imagine: New York Mart and Fei Long Market. The latter has a large food court, where you'll find stalls serving favorites like soup dumplings and hand-pulled noodles.
As diverse as Sunset Park's eating scene is, it does have one specialty: tacos. A few blocks south of the park, you'll find Tacos Matamoros, where the char-grilled marinated pork is roasted on a spit and then shaved, shawarma style, onto corn tortillas. Tacos El Bronco, over on Fourth Avenue (there's also an El Bronco truck on Fifth Avenue and 37th Street), has a similar setup and was recently singled out by the Food Network for its "flawless" pork tacos accompanied by roasted onion bulbs. Meanwhile, Ricos Tacos, a few blocks south on Fifth Avenue, is your go-to for superlative handling of unusual cuts of meat, like beef tongue. Those looking for more elaborate Mexican preparations should try Maria's Bistro Mexicano, whose standout dishes include a thick-cut pork chop grilled with Oaxacan achiote salsa, and el molcajete norteño, which is grilled sirloin, shrimp and poblano peppers served on a heated lava rock. The neighborhood caters to those looking to cook up some Latin food at home too: Plaza Xochimilco 2, on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street, is your one-stop grocery shop, and has a dizzying array of fresh jalapeños. #food#sunsetpark
Let's see how unique sunset park is: • The neighborhood held its first Puerto Rican Day Parade in decades, which included marching bands, 60 vintage cars and motorcycles and a concert at the park. • Sunset hosts tons of music festivals. Whether it’s Make Music New York, Fifth Avenue Festival, and more, the neighborhood knows how to party. • Vendors along Fifth Avenue make the best piraguas, a terrific ice treat during the sweltering summer months. • The Sunset Park pool is a prime destination for residents to stay cool, take a few laps, and receive a few lessons. Recently, the facility was renovated, adding spacious locker rooms and a new play area for kids. • The food is tremendous. Whether it’s Asian eateries or Spanish restaurants such as Castillo’s, your taste buds will thank you, and your wallet will be not much slimmer as a result. • The Sunset Park Business District is hands-on, offering the neighborhood plenty of information on events thanks to its smartphone app. #sunsetpark
Gonzalez Grocery, 4824 6th Ave, New York, New York 11220, United States