John Heilemann co-wrote, with Time’s Mark Halperin, Game Change, a best-selling account of the 2008 presidential election recently adapted as a movie for HBO. The 46-year-old is national-affairs editor at New York magazine, where he writes a column that’s a must-read for anyone interested in politics. And he’s a nine-year Brooklyn resident, currently in Williamsburg, though he’s also lived in Fort Greene and DUMBO—“so I know the borough pretty well, brother.” He shares with us his favorite spots around town.
Best place to people watch?
As a professional watcher of politicians, I prefer to spend my free time observing nobler creatures—which is to say, canines (and, ok, the simians attached to them). For that, there are three prime options: Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park, and Hillside Dog Park on Columbia Heights.
Best place to drink?
Three-way tie, all in Williamsburg: Maison Premiere, for the gorgeous Old New Orleans space, excellent raw bar, and plentitude of drinks with an absinthe or sparkling element; Dram, in the old Chickenbone Café space, for its top-to-bottom, kick-ass cocktail selection; and Post Office, for its best-of-718 whiskey program.
Again, no way to pick just one, so I’m going with Roberta’s in Bushwick, for the incredible high-low culinary mastery and the pirate-radio vibe, and Prime Meats over in Carroll Gardens, where my pals the Franks have the steampunk mise-en-scene down pat—and also serve up the best red meat in this borough or any other. A confession, though: I picked those two having never been able to secure a table at Brooklyn Fare; come on, someone out there, can ya hook a brother up?
Best bookstore or record store?
I buy tons of music digitally but haven’t been in a record store in years (he said, sticking out his jaw and begging every vinyl snob in Brooklyn to take a swing). On the book front, I’ll always have a soft spot for powerHouse in DUMBO, where I once walked by on a warm summer night and saw what must have been 50 people milling around inside—buck naked. Why? Who knows? Who cares?
Best grocery store or farmer's market?
Fuck groceries. Fuck greens. I’m all about the animal flesh. And for that there’s simply nowhere better than Tom Mylan’s Williamsburg master butchery, The Meat Hook.
Best laundromat or dry cleaner?
I've lived in Brooklyn since 2003 in four places—Fort Greene, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and now Williamsburg again—and have yet to find a decent dry cleaner. As for laundromat—do I look 22 to you?
Best outdoor spot?
Any section of the emerging Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is really being done right, or down by the docks in Red Hook, where you can catch a scent of sea air.
Best place to attend a show/view a piece of art/see a movie?
Boring, sure, but I’m a longtime supporter of the folks at BAM, where I’ve seen some of the best theater of my life, and a newborn booster of the Brooklyn Museum, where the recent Keith Haring retrospective blew the doors off the place.
Best coffee shop?
Blue Bottle by a mile.
Best subway line or bus route?
I wouldn’t know – I’m from LA.
Best date spot?
Ten years out of the dating pool disqualifies me for an opinion.