Paloma Elsesser’s Staycation in North Williamsburg: Shopping and the Necessary Taco at La Superior

Paloma Elsesser in the Oleanders restaurant in the McCarren Hotel & Pool.  Photos by Brooke Goldman.

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Throughout the summer, Brooklyn Magazine is teaming up with the McCarren Hotel & Pool to give local creatives a two-night staycation and show us around some of their favorite spots in the neighborhood. The McCarren Hotel provides an exciting urban retreat with an ideal location overlooking in one of Brooklyn’s most exciting neighborhoods. Featuring a rooftop bar, one of New York City’s largest outdoor swimming pools, pitchers of signature cocktails, and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, ​McCarren Hotel & Pool has something for every traveler, every season.

One thing to know about Paloma Elsesser, Instagram style icon: she hates heels. “They hurt too much!” she says on a walk through McCarren Park, showing off her Adidas Superstar sneakers that perfectly complement her thrifted black and white gingham skirt and crop top. “Who can really wear them in New York?”

It’s true–when your life is as busy and bustling as Elsesser’s, heels just won’t cut it. While the 23-year old student has studied psychology and literature in school and bounced between New York and her hometown of Los Angeles, her Instagram and Tumblr propelled her into the world of fashion, modeling, and her own creative projects. While she ultimately wants to become a clinical psychologist, she’s taking time off from studies to pursue her own thing, starting with a cross-country tour helping manage a dear friend of hers, Earl Sweatshirt. (In case you were wondering, it’s her voice at the end of the song “Huey.”)

Right before she heads on the road for six weeks, Elsesser took us through some of her favorite Williamsburg hauches, before winding down with her boyfriend at the McCarren Hotel & Pool for the ultimate staycation.

First, it’s a quick stop in McCarren Park across the street. Her West Coast upbringing has given her a deep sense of connection to flowers and nature, she says. “Plants are super cool in general–I’m mystified by their human growth,” she says. “If you take care of them, you’ll thrive.”

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Then, it’s off in her car to make a stop at Pop’s Popular Clothing. The rugged men’s work apparel is a far cry from the clothing stores on Bedford, but it’s where Elsesser gets most of her fashion inspiration: “I think I’m like a 90s skateboarder,” she laughs, hunting for the perfect pair of hunter green Dickie’s.

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She says she likes to pair the much more masculine pieces with crop tops and more feminine pieces. “[Fashion] is so much more tangible now with Tumblr and Instagram,” she says, whose Instagram boasts more than 24,000 followers. “You can become your own muse, you have the power to put yourself out there in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing.” Elsesser insist she’s not a “fashion girl,” but that clothes are important to her. “I’m proud of my style because it’s authentic,” she says.

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On the recommendation of her friend, the next stop is Sprout Home on Metropolitan Avenue. Naturally, Elsesser drools over all the greenery in the plant store. “Growing up in L.A. I was surrounded by nature, so I think it’s important to have some of that in my apartment,” she says. “It’s nice to have a touch of beauty in the urbanized setting that we’re in. I love having plants all over my house.”

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Next is a trip to Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers on Bedford Avenue–good thing, as a trip on the road demands some new reading. Elsesser loves Spoonbill for its discerning, curated selection–plus the fact that the staff is nice. “They’re always super helpful and nice here,” she says.

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After debating getting a new Moleskin, Elsesser walks out with a copy of Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Writing and reading have always been important parts of her life, Elsesser says. “Books offered me an empathy that life didn’t teach me,” she says. “It was just an extension for my imagination.

Needing a quick bite, it was a no-brainer to go find the nearest taco joint–La Superior. A self-proclaimed taco enthusiast (“they’re a huge part of my diet”), Elsesser is always on the hunt for the best West Coast tacos. “I like [La Superior] because it’s the closest thing to L.A. tacos,” she says. “It’s no frills, it’s not super expensive, and it doesn’t have a shitty crowd.”

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Finally, after a few more emails and meetings, Elsesser can finally rest back at the McCarren Hotel. First up on the relaxation agenda: that pool.

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