August, 2015. Ariel Kanter for am New York. Labor Day is coming up. Do you have plans yet? If you've depleted your bank account from summering in the Hamptons or can't imagine another LIRR trip, spend some time in Red Hook. The food is excellent, the neighborhood is as casual and cool as it gets and you can get away without very much effort at all.
Even though it specializes in desserts, I can't help but start my trips to Red Hook at Baked (359 Van Brunt St., 718-222-0345). There's always something new to try there, whether you prefer a classic brownie, a blueberry lemon loaf or a red velvet cupcake. Another sweet stop is Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies (185 Van Dyke St., 718-858-5333). Its pies are available full-sized or in individual 4-inch tarts -- the latter perfect for grabbing and going while you explore the neighborhood.
For some grub, a classic stop is Brooklyn Crab (24 Reed St., 718-643-2722). Especially now that the weather is a bit less oppressive, you can post up at the tri-level space for a few hours. If there's a wait for a table, play some games. Then head to the bar for a refreshing drink, like the Crab Cooler. Once you're seated, dig in to my personal favorite, the popcorn shrimp, and then a blue crab roll on the butteriest split-top bun. If you have a crew, definitely get a steampot or two.
Time really is of the essence for Chiang Mai (293 Van Brunt St., 646-858-5185), a new pop-up in the home/made space helmed by Kao Soy alum Kanlaya Supachana. Find a variety of Northern Thai delicacies, mostly in the form of small plates, such as grilled prawns in a garlic lime sauce and jin som mok -- grilled and fermented ground pork with pig's ear, garlic and chili in banana leaves. The pop-up last six months, so get your act together and hop on the B61.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.