A West Side Story: Places to go, People to see

Welcome to the West End. This densely populated, community centric neighborhood is a refreshing throwback to a simpler time when neighborly affection was prevalent, and respect for others was paramount. The local businesses here embrace an entrepreneurial spirit, and the young, energetic inhabitants of the area support this venture intensely. Everything one requires is easily within a 2 mile radius, as well as a few indulgences.

Ready for Caffeine? Head over to Hudson Street Deli for a breakfast sandwich and some local drip coffee. A few blocks down Broadway is Seven Stars Bakery where you can enjoy a hand crafted latte or delicious artisan baked goods. If time is on your side; visit Julians; a casual, funky spot where the walls and seats are embellished by local artists and enjoy a chalkboard myriad of vegetarian and carnivorous specials daily.

Time to Shop? Rocket to Mars is a vintage dream, showcasing clothing and household items from 1920s to 1970s. If the ever-changing window display doesn’t entice you; the obscure books, Italian made-shoes, and dish ware that would make your grandmother swoon certainly will.

Need Groceries? Ever since the Fertile Underground sprouted on Westminster, West- Siders no longer have to wait for the Farmers Market in Dexter Park for our organic goodies. This natural food co-op features fresh produce from local farmers, bulk items, and obscure grocery items for every dietary preference or restriction there is. The staff is knowledgable, clearly excited about food, laid back and welcoming. This is not a preachy spot, and anyone who is intimidated simply needs to walk in the doors and embrace that here, food is love. And love is tasty.

Is it Dinner time yet? Nicks on Broadway, where the talented Derek Wagner creates seasonal dishes showcasing locally sourced ingredients to perfection, will leave you speechless. You will never see dish that isn’t plated flawlessly, taste wine that isn’t paired perfectly, or speak with staff that isn’t warm and knowledgable. Unquestionably passionate about food, boasting their own garden on the roof, this place has a casual elegance that is undeniable. Pop back over at brunch time and your palate will never be the same. This place is a gem.

Ready to wet your whistle? Visit JR at the Avery, a loungy bar with demure art nouveau vixens adorning the walls that would make Gustav Klimt’s ladies blush. This cozy spot feels slightly naughty without being vulgar, and the artisan cocktails are divine.

Want something more laid back? Visit Mike Kelly behind the bar at E&O Tap and choose from the 16 beers on tap, visit the outdoor patio and enjoy a friendly, hip scene that feels like you stepped into a local Brooklyn dive bar. Wednesday nights all drafts are half off for ladies, and the Poco Loco Taco truck waits outside with the best $2 taco you’ve ever had. Who said you have to spend your paycheck for a fun night out?

On your stroll home, offer a tip of your hat to groups like the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and other members of this community that have worked so hard to make this neighborhood thrive. These passionate individuals saw potential on the West End; restored historic homes, cleaned up streets, and gave local business owners a chance to succeed, all so their inhabitants could have a safe neighborhood to enjoy. So maybe tomorrow, offer a big smile to your neighbors, and your support to local businesses to continue the hopes of this flourishing community.

By Katie Cocuzzo