As the neighborhoods formerly known as “South Brooklyn” have developed into swanky Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens, the connective strip along Atlantic Avenue has morphed from empty storefronts and dusty antique emporiums into chi-chi shops.
For chic, feminine women’s fashion, try the dynamic duo of Michelle New York (376 Atlantic Ave.) and Sir (360 Atlantic Ave.), located on the same block. Both feature the work of local designers, with Sir taking a softer, ladylike tack and Michelle offering a more glam touch; Michelle also features a bridal salon. On the same block, Kimera (366 Atlantic Ave.) designer Yvonne Chu offers gowns, accessories, and home accents in brightly hued raw silk.
Across from the imposing Brooklyn House of Detention (a local landmark that gets a key role in Jonathan Lethem’s “Fortress of Solitude”), check out the casual looks at Brooklyn Industries (100 Smith St.). Brooklyn’s homegrown mini-chain started out making messenger bags and T-shirts, but today offers artist collaborations and a broader range of street-ready clothing and accessories.
Turn south at Brooklyn Industries and you’ll find yourself on design-centric Smith Street. Zipper (333 Smith St.) features uber-clever home accents and gifts with a slightly masculine twist; Handmade (251 Smith St.), as its name implies, offers elegant ceramics, glass accessories, and craft wares.
Back on Atlantic, shoppers who want to indulge their own crafty impulses should check out the classes at Artez’n (444 Atlantic Ave.), which include mosaic technique, embroidery, jewelry-making, and other handwork. The shop also serves as a gallery for artists and designers; hot sellers include barware with images of Brooklyn local landmarks. (Think martini glasses with an illustration of the Brooklyn Bridge.)
A few clusters of shops provide Islamic clothing and imported oils to the borough’s Middle Eastern community, but legendary specialty food shop Sahadi’s (187 Atlantic) is in a class by itself. Open since 1948, the shop offers not only Middle Eastern imports, but also bulk foods, an eye-popping olive bar, a wide range of cheeses, coffees, teas, and other tasty treats.
Wind up your visit with an indulgence at the western end of Atlantic — either a deep-fried Mars bar (or Twinkie) at Chip Shop (129 Atlantic Ave.), or perhaps a fruity vodka drink across the street at Last Exit Bar and Lounge (126 Atlantic Ave.).