Part of the MTA + James Beard Foundation DineAWAY series
Step 1: Nature overload at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
There were a few major thrills of school when you were a kid: snow days, watching movies with a sub, and - of course - field trips. So today we’re reliving those field trip days at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, no single file lines or chaperones necessary. Whether you (like me) have been meaning to check it out forever or go every year, Spring is the absolute best time, especially when the cherry blossoms are popping.
Be sure to buy your timed tickets ahead of time, which will save you both time and money (the line to buy tickets there is much longer and the tix are $2 more expensive). Pick an $18 time slot - this is just the time you enter, but you can stay as long as you'd like - and one of their three entrance options. We went in through the 990 Washington Ave entrance because it was minutes away from the 4 stop (2 and 3 also go there). The 455 Flatbush Ave entrance is right by the Q and 150 Eastern Parkway entrance is right by the 2 and 3 as well.
8 minute walk from Franklin Avenue - Medgar Evers College
1 minute walk from Eastern Parkway - Brooklyn Museum
2 minute walk from Prospect Park
Once you’re there, just follow the paths and go wherever your eyes are drawn. Make sure you don’t miss the Conservatory or the rose garden, though. The Conservatory houses different weather-specific plants, like tropical, desert, and aquatic, as well as a whole room of bonsai plants that was one of the highlights of my day. But really the most special thing you can do is just wander among the flowers thinking about how calm and quiet it is (a thought we don't have often in NYC).
Once you’ve taken plenty of pictures and popped enough Zyrtec for six people, find the nearest exit and head to Ursula. Depending on which you’re closest to, the walk is about 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Eat New Mexican-inspired food at Ursula
Ursula is a New Mexican-inspired restaurant with lots of vegetarian and vegan dishes. It’s also a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurants and we can see why. The inside is tiny - just a counter to order from and a tiny open kitchen - but the funky decorations in the window (like a bejeweled bull’s head) and the colorful chairs outside are just a tease that this place is awesome. They’ll bring your food out if you’re hanging at one of their tables, but if there isn’t anywhere to sit, you can head back to Prospect Park for a picnic. (Just a heads up, there are no bathrooms here so maybe find one before you leave the Gardens.)
We split the fried mushroom sandwich with green chili and the vegan sopapilla. Honestly that sopapilla was life changing. It had such a mix of textures from the refried beans to the crunchy bread and lettuce on top and I’m still thinking about it. They also always have some specials, like vegan nachos and a lavender-brined fried chicken - so we’re excited to head back there and see what surprises they have next.
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