When talking about the city of Brooklyn, one can’t help but acknowledge the fact that it is a melting pot of many different cultures which is one of the reasons why the borough is a sought-after destination.

Of the many different ethnicities that make up our country, Hispanics are the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group, making up roughly 18% of the nation’s total population.

According to data from The Pew Research Center, the overall total reached 60.6 million in 2019 and based on the 2010 Census, 19.8% of Brooklyn’s population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

Hispanic Heritage month, which runs between September 15th and October 15th, marks the celebration of a culture that has seen, and continues to see, great strides and accomplishments.

Originally established as Hispanic Heritage week in 1968 as a celebration that recognizes the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came to this country, it then became a month-long celebration back in 1988.


Interesting Fact – September 15th was chosen as the start date because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Hispanic countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.


Over the years, there have been a great number of trailblazers and history makers who have paved the way in a variety of outlets, some names more recognizable than others.

People like Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut (she visited space four separate times), Lizzie Velasquez, an anti-bullying advocate, Sylvia Rivera, a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican transgender person who fought tirelessly for LGBTQ rights and is credited with putting the “T” in the acronym LGBTQ, Berta Caceres, a leading environmental and human rights activist who spent her life fighting for the rights and land of the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, and the notable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a groundbreaking figure in modern politics.

Big name stars like Rita Hayworth, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Christina Aguliera, to name just a few, have come out of Brooklyn or the surrounding boroughs, and went on to be a force in their respective fields.

When we speak of Brooklyn being a melting pot of cultures, there are quite a few neighborhoods with a strong Hispanic presence. Bushwick, a neighborhood originally founded by the Dutch, became predominantly Hispanic by the late 20th century, and today has the largest Hispanic community, many of whom are Puerto Rican with some Dominican and people from South America.


Interesting Fact – Approximately 80% of the neighborhood population is Hispanic and the dominant language spoken is Spanish.


Other areas with a strong Hispanic presence include:

East New York, originally founded as the town of New Lots in the middle of the 1600s, began to see a rise in the Hispanic community towards the latter part of the twentieth century.

Sunset Park, a sparsely developed area in the late 19th century, but one that would be called home by many Hispanic and other immigrant groups by the 21st century.

Williamsburg, an area that has not only gone through gentrification since the late 1990’s but has always welcomed numerous ethnic groups within the enclaves of the neighborhood.

Red Hook, originally a prosperous shipping and port area in the early 20th century is now home to many ethnic groups including Hispanic.

Puerto Viejo Dominican Bistro in 1940 Brooklyn NY

Along with the multi-cultural neighborhoods that many Brooklynites call home, the borough is also filled with an array of Hispanic-owned businesses which allow both residents and out-of-towners the opportunity to experience the culture.

With a wide array of culinary options, there are quite a few neighborhood restaurants to try. And despite the numerous obstacles businesses have faced over the last several months due to the worldwide pandemic, these tried and true neighborhood gems have continued to serve their patrons. Some establishments to check out include:

Puerto Viejo – This Dominican Bistro has been a neighborhood staple since 1986. Serving up authentic dishes using only the freshest ingredients, a meal at Puerto Viejo will leave you feeling like it came straight from your kitchen. – 564 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11238

Love, Nelly – Serving Columbian inspired sweets, Love, Nelly, located in East Bushwick, pays homage to co-owner and baker Stephanie Gallardo’s mom. All of the sweet treats are reminiscent of the childhood memories Stephanie has of visiting family in Columbia and South America. – 53 Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11233


Casa Ora – This farm to table restaurant not only serves up some home cooked Spanish food, it is also focused on bringing the beauty and nature of Venezuela to NYC. In an effort to give back, Casa Ora donates a portion of their revenue to families forced to seek asylum due to lack of human rights. – 148 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY  11206


Devocion – Launched in 2006, Columbian born Steve Sutton set out to bring his customers the freshest coffee imaginable. With not one but three cafes, (Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn, and the Flatiron District in NYC,) this farm-to-table coffee can also be ordered directly from Devocion’s website for anyone who cannot make it to one of the three locations.


While these are just a few places within the various Brooklyn neighborhoods, authentic Hispanic cuisine can be found throughout the entire borough.

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, it’s important to learn more about the people and brands whose roots are embedded in the Hispanic culture and continue to break down barriers, along with the pioneers who helped pave the way for others to follow.

The Red Hook Grain Terminal in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

What was once one of the busiest and most important shipping town’s in all of New York, Red Hook has gone through many changes since first being discovered.

Founded in 1635 by the Dutch, the waterfront  community was given the name Roode Hoek because of the color of the soil and the shape of the landmass. But even before the Dutch established this Brooklyn neighborhood, it was populated with the Lenape people, the original native New Yorker’s who lived along the marshy waterfront.

It is also a neighborhood steeped in history. The Battle of Brooklyn took place here in 1776 during the American Revolution, and many years later, this tough section of Brooklyn was the place where legendary mobster Al Capone got his start as a criminal.

As the years have progressed, this once battered section of Brooklyn has begun to see new life while still holding on to some of that “old world charm.”

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, points out the beauty this waterfront neighborhood offers residents and tourists alike.

“Red Hook has great, close-up views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn’s west coast,” says Schulhoff.

Coupled with these fabulous views of New York City are cobblestone streets, vacant warehouses which have become sought after locations for up-and-coming artists, and a flourishing hot spot for millennials and hipsters alike.

“It’s a neighborhood that also survived the likes of Hurricane Sandy,” Schulhoff points out.

While Red Hook remains a quiet neighborhood, it is also a neighborhood that’s growing, and this hidden treasure may not stay hidden for long. It still holds that industrial feel, but is now home to some of the top names in the industry (IKEA, Fairway) along with cafes, restaurants, and places of interest that are making Red Hook a sought after destination.


For foodies in search of a great meal, Red Hook offers up an array of choices. Next time you’re in the neighborhood check out some of the following:

Fort DefianceThis charming downtown restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with weekend brunch and great cocktails daily. (365 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 1123

Hometown Bar-B-Que – Specializing in authentic pit-smoked meats. (454 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

The Good Fork – A cozy restaurant / bar serving seasonal New American fare. Run by a husband and wife team, The Good Fork is a true neighborhood mom and pop establishment. (391 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Red Hook Lobster Pound – A restaurant that promises it’s customer the best crustacean in the nation, its here you can experience delicious lobster rolls along with other kinds of seafood strait from the coast of Maine. The menu also includes non-seafood options as well. (284 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Brooklyn Crab – Built on two decks overlooking the New York Harbor, this famous Brooklyn crab shack offers the freshest seafood, a variety of cocktails, and games, making it the perfect spot to eat and hang out. (24 Reed Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Defontes Sandwich Shop – A true old-school Italian sandwich shop tucked away in the sleepy back-end of Red Hook, Defontes has been serving large Italian heroes to residents and tourists alike since 1922. (379 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)


We can’t forget dessert! These locations in Red Hook offer some of the best:

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie – Steve’s Authentic has the best, fresh squeezed key lime pie this side of Florida. (185 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Ample Hills Brooklyn Ice cream Company – The ice cream company consists of a factory, museum, and store. Not only can you get ice cream, this location allows customers to see how it’s made, and the interactive free museum includes a 22-foot wide map of Brooklyn, and a model trolley car to a climb through tunnel and flavor smell station, all while learning the story behind Ample Hills. (421 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Baked This bakery and cafe is not only home to the most delicious cookies and other sweet treats, but they also offer a savory breakfast and lunch. (359 van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Cacao Prieto – From beans to bar, the chocolate bars and cacao based rums and liquors are made fresh daily using the finest organic cacao beans, straight from founder and owner Daniel Prieto Preston’s family’s farm. (218 Conover Street, Brooklyn NY 11231)

Raaka Chocolate – Raaka offers delicious chocolate made from scratch as well as classes and tours which are available several times a week. (64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn NY 11231)


If it’s a a cocktail you’re looking for, these neighborhood spots are a great place to meet up with friends:

Brooklyn Ice House – Here you’ll find an extensive beer selection (there’s over 50 different ones to choose from) along with a complete bar menu and a big backyard, fire pit and all, to hang out with friends. (318 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Sunny’s Bar – Operating since the 1890’s, this neighborhood relic once catered to the shipbuilders who worked nearby. These days, this family-owned business offers live music and drinks making any night here a good night to meet up with friends. (253 Conover Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Rocky’s Sullivan’s – An Irish Pub offering live music and entertainment daily, including pub quiz on Thursday nights. The laid back atmosphere leaves patrons feeling right at home. (42 Beard Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Red Hook Tavern – The classic American fare menu pays homage to the time honored old school taverns of New York City. (329 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)

Looking for something fun to do? Check out the following:

Red Hook Winery – Highlighting the best vineyards in New York State, Red Hook Winery produces all of it’s wine on site and offers daily tastings at The Tasting Room. (175 van Dyke Street Pier 41, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Van Brunt Stillhouse – Producing farmhouse style whisky since 2012, the local distillery includes a tasting room and offers tours of the whisky making process. (6 Bay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Widow Jane Distillery Founded in 2012, this local whisky distillery is owned and housed inside Cacao Preito. Open seven days a week, private tours are available weekdays by appointment and weekends are open to the public.

Valentino Pier – A reminder of the shipping industry that once was, the Valentino Pier offers magnificent views and the best photo opportunities of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. (Coffey Street & Ferris Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231)

Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge – The historic vessel serves as a museum and performance space. Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of Red Hook as well as partake in scheduled events and activities. (290 Conover Street, Brooklyn, NY  11231)


Despite the fact that the neighborhood remains surrounded by water and not that easily accessible by public transportation, it remains a neighborhood rich in history and a deep sense of community. Ask anyone who lives here and they will tell you, there is no place like Red Hook.