Mike Kurtz working at Paulie Gee's.
Mike's Hot Honey--a staple in our own cupboards--also happens to be one of our favorite condiments to gift. Not only is it amazingly (and perhaps a little unexpectedly) versatile, but it's also more than a little bit badass. The chili pepper-infused honey adds a sweet kick to everything from pizza to biscuits, and also makes for an attitude-enhancing secret ingredient in marinades, cocktails and sauces.
The flavor and kick seem especially well suited to fall, so we asked Michael Kurtz, who started the company while working at Paulie Gee's, back in 2010, to key us in on a perfect fall day. He suggested a walking tour that leads from South Slope all the way to Bay Ridge. Autumn is the perfect season, after all, for two of his favorite pastimes--exploring New York on foot and eating.
Before we get to the details of his perfect fall day in South Brooklyn, Kurtz had two pro-tips for fall eats, one you'll need to travel for and the other you can make anywhere.
Mike Kurtz's perfect fall day on 5th Avenue--South Slope to Bay Ridge
A lot of my life revolves around eating and exploring different neighborhoods in New York, I'm always seeking out different things. One ideal trip is to take friend down to Sunset Park, and walk 5th Avenue from South Slope all the way down, just keep going until you hit Bay Ridge.
Luigi's in South Slope is legit. Photo: Luigi's
If you head down 5th Avenue you'll want to stop for pizza at Luigi’s Pizza (686 5th Ave., Brooklyn), it's right on 5th between 20th and 21st. They have a great classic slice. I do a lot of pizza eating around town and I have pretty good pulse on pizza.
Sunset Park has one of the most stunning views in Brooklyn and it just gets better in the fall. Photo: NYC Parks
Personally, I think Sunset Park and Greenwood Cemetery are nice year round, but fall is especially nice since it's typically perfect walking weather. Keep going past Luigi's and pretty soon you'll pass Green-wood Cemetery (5th Ave. between 24th and 36th) which is a beautiful place to walk around in. Another place to stop for a bit is Sunset Park (5th between 41st and 44th) itself. Sunset Park has an incredible view of New York City, it's a perspective of the city most people have never seen--you're up high and it's an interesting angle.
The part of Sunset Park that's around the park is very Mexican and there are a ton of great taquerias. I like Tacos Matamoros (4508 5th Ave.) between 45th and 46th.
Melody Lanes is a classic old-school bowling alley. Photo: Melody Lanes
Hitting the lanes
At this point you should definitely bowl a few rounds at Melody Lanes (461 37th St.). It's a classic bowling alley, and mainly a league night spot, when you go in the majority of the people in there are in organized leagues, and you're sort of an outsider as a casual bowler. It's a great piece of classic New York, still hanging on--I like to hit older spots.
The Verrazano Bridge as seen from Shore Park in Bay Ridge. Photo: NYC Parks
On to Bay Ridge
You can head over to 8th Avenue to explore Brooklyn Chinatown, the Chinese part of Sunset Park, a bit. Ba Xuyên (4222 8th Ave.) is a great place for Vietnamese sandwiches. Or keep heading down 5th to go straight to Bay Ridge.
Bay Ridge has lots of different scenes. The north part is Egyptian and Lebanese with lots of great food and hookah bars. The south is more Irish and Italian. There's a great pizza spot there called Pizza Wagon (8610 5th Ave.). Paulie Gee put me onto it--I get a lot of pizza recommendations from him. Another favorite is Grand Sichuan House (8701 5th Ave.). It doesn’t look like much and it's pretty small, but the food is awesome. The ma po tofu is great; this is proper Sichuan.
Once you're down here you're almost to the Verrazano Bridge, and there's Shore Road Parkway to walk along, too. I like this trip because you can do a lot of walking, see a lot of South Brooklyn, eat a lot of great food, all no frills. Believe me, I love a fancy dinner, but I'm not as concerned with atmosphere as with the food.