Yes, the East Village is still a hip place to hang out in New York. But the true hipsters, the hippest of the hip don't live in the Village anymore. Who among the young, the artsty, the posturing can afford $7000 a month rent (and admits to it)? Thus, Williamsburg, Brooklyn has sprung up as the new Mecca of Cool. Conveniently located one stop on the L train from the East Village, North Williamsburg is crawling with 20 and 30 somethings from every corner of this country and most others. Coming up from the Bedford subway stop, the formerly Polish neighborhood is now lined with cafes, dimly-lit swank bars, exotic restaurants, vegan fare, vintage clothing store, specialty music, book and video stores, art supply stores and art studios. Last weekend, four new hipster hangouts opened AND the first-ever hipster mall on Bedford. Of course, the nature of hipness is such that as a neighborhood rises, and the rents follow suit, the Truly Cool go elsewhere. The next stop on the L train is Lorimer and South Williamsburg, where garbage still blows through the streets and the rents are not yet truly astronomical. Here (yes, I type in all of my True Coolness from a South Williamsburg apartment) the neighborhood is primarily Puerto Rican. Two blocks away is the largest Hasidic Jew neighborhood in the world. Every day more white, scruffy artist types are added to the mix. I hope it will remain just a smattering of us, but I fear that our encroachment won't end until this neighborhood is just like Bedford. At this very moment I'm typing to the sounds of the apartment next to me being thoroughly refurbished in hopes of alluring more "people like me" (as my landlord disturbingly puts it). Meanwhile, it's a very New York mosaic (melting pot my ass). My friends have warned me against joining a Hasidic Hispanic Hipster gang. If none of those communities appealed to me I could walk a few blocks south and east and hang out with the Italians (or at any rate eat their good pizza at the Galleria on Metropolitan around Graham) or go a little further and hang out with the old Polish men who still speak only Polish amongst themselves. I go to Hasidic neighborhood when I really want to feel like I'm traveling through time and space. Around the corner, on Broadway and Marcy is one the few remaining $6 movie theatres (as opposed to, I kid you not, $9.50 in a regular theatre). The Broadway Diner on Broadway and Wythe (close to the river)has a very misleading name. In place of the many-volumed menu of greasy fare you would expect is a menu with about five items, including fancy salads and the like. Those five items are good, as is the coffee. They don't seem to allow anyone who isn't sufficiently cool through the door, so if you don't have a certificate proclaiming that you're an artist, you should probably stick to the regular diners. The best Thai food I've had is at Planeat Thailand on North 7th between Bedford (the main hipster drag) and Berry. The basil chicken makes me cry from tastejoy. The atmosphere is overwhelming and overly busy, so I suggest taking it out and eating it on the relatively relaxing street corner. For some basic food and sports bar/hip bar environment, go to Teddy's on North 8th and Berry. The best pizza by the slice is at Maria's on Bedford. To revel in the heart of Williamsburgosity go to the L Cafe on North 7th and Bedford. The cooler-than-thou waitstaff will probably mistreat you, your food will likely be mediocre, but you will nonetheless feel drawn to make it your hangout as thousands have before. (unless, of course, you have the good fortune and great pleasure of being waited on by Ms. Sarah Ann Nicholls and be sure to tip her.)
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