Best of the B38 Bus Line

Rae Hirschfeld-Smith
June 30, 2023

Most New Yorkers love to talk about their preferred subway routes in the same way that Californians talk about the highway system: they have their favorite lines, stations, and transit routines on hand as a classic conversation starter. However, if you’re like me– you may live in a bit of a subway “dead zone”, or as my roommate and I like to call it– the “Bed-Stuy Bermuda Triangle,” where there is a minimum 15 minute walk to the nearest station. That is how I began my initially skeptical, but now flourishing, love affair with the B38 bus, which journeys all the way from Downtown Brooklyn to Ridgewood, Queens, passing through Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, and Bushwick along the way. 

Here are a few of  “Best Of” eats, sights, shops, and spots worth visiting along the B38 route. Although the bus route travels past multiple CoolStuff community faves (Miss Adas! Bittersweet! Dweebs!) In the spirit of highlighting the underdogs of BK (just like the bus) this list seeks to uncover some lesser-known, less cost-prohibitive local favorites.  You just may surprise yourself and skip the train by the end of this list.  

Mr. Mango Fruit and Vegetables

Downtown Brooklyn

FOR: Reliably affordable prices on fruits & veggies, fresh juice/smoothies, and eye-catching sidewalk bounties of overflowing fresh produce, Mr. Mango is a destination off the B38 that is so visually appealing you may be spontaneously tempted to hop off the bus while eyeing it out the window. Stop by on your way to picnic at Fort Greene park or if you want to munch on some of the crispest green grapes in Brooklyn while you mosey towards BAM and Downtown Brooklyn. 

As a member of the “Mr. Produce” family, like Williamsburg’s “Mr. Pina” or Cobble Hill's “Mr. Beet” (I like to imagine that they are all brothers, or somewhat related) fresh, reasonable in-season produce and fresh juice/smoothies. 


Fort Greene

FOR: A friend’s birthday is coming up, your mom is in town, or you have thirty minutes to kill before meeting a friend at Walter’s across the street. Poke into (one of two locations) of a locally owned, thoughtfully curated boutique.  Sujuk and Sole has a charming eclectic mix of home goods, second hand and vintage (check out their sidewalk sale rack for consistent gems!), and other small business goodies. It’s the type of place you may walk past, do a double take, and then just “pop in” before realizing you’ve been browsing their handcrafted face oil collection for far too long.

Choice Market

Clinton Hill

FOR: When you want a leisurely sidewalk cafe moment that feels like you could be somewhere in Europe and not less than two blocks from a Starbucks. Also for killing two birds with one stone: stop by before work for a coffee and pastry (warning: if you are anything like me, you may spend an embarrassing amount of time trying to pick from their wide array of baked goods) and then grab a sandwich to go for lunch later when you want to bottle that European sidewalk cafe feeling at your office desk. 

Menu highlights: pulled pork sandwich, nicoise salad, and any of the baked goods. I recently overheard someone in line say they have lived in Bed-Stuy their entire life, and have been coming every weekend since birth. It’s a family-owned neighborhood staple for a

Herbert Von King Park


FOR: Sprawling grassy lawns to sunbathe, play cards, or picnic; scenic and somewhat private park benches to publicly cry while calling your mom, and enjoying what (I personally believe) to be one of the prominent reasons to live in NYC: witnessing, and then soaking up the pure, eclectic, communal joy of people and dogs enthusiastically engaging in recreation, leisure, and communion in public green space. 

Plus: Herbert Von King’s amphitheater is one of the locations of NYC’s free summer park free programming, which has an exciting calendar lineup worth bookmarking.

Samurai Papa


FOR: A gloomy day (in terms of weather or mood, both options are valid), an early on but not thatearlyon in the dating game sake and soba date, and any time you want to cozy up to a small two top or solo dine at the bar with a book. Compact, cozy, and a literal single step off the B38, Samurai Pap serves’ up consistently excellent ramen with a variety of options (vegan! spicy!) as well as bento boxes and rice bowls. Some menu highlights include their spicy, peanut Dan Dan Ramen and their Yuzu Sangria cocktail.

Brooklyn Public Library


FOR: When you’re sick of paying $7 for an underwhelming latte at a trendy boutique coffee shop but you work remotely and dear god- need to leave your apartment every once in a while. With free wifi, outlets, and peace & quiet, the Dekalb Branch of Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an especially appealing WFH alternative with spacious reading rooms and high ceilings, in a historically-landmarked limestone and brick building designed by famous Brooklyn architect William Tubby. Hop on the B38, check out a book or two, and then grab a citi bike (docks located directly outside) and head to Maria Hernandez Park a few blocks away to dig into your new read for a low-cost day of leisure in the neighborhood.

Nene’s Deli & Taqueria


FOR: Some of the best Birria in Brooklyn, a comforting warm embrace of generational cooking and you kind of just want chips, guac, and a horchata because…that sounds so fucking good? Everything about Nene’s just feels good for the soul: the bright, primary colors, buzzy flow of consistent regulars eager to order, and the small market in the back with a robust selection of Mexican snacks, candy, and treats worth perusing while you wait. While the entire menu has fan-favorites, note the Nopales (cactus) tacos and rotating variety of agua frescas as specific highlights.

Topos Bookstore Cafe


FOR: Feel-good retail therapy, a guaranteed method to uplift even the dreariest rainy afternoons. Walk a few blocks off the B38 in Ridgewood and shop Topo’s used, new, and discounted collection of books, magazines, and more. Striking the perfect balance between eclectically cluttered and intentionally curated, Topos has it all: come to get a shiny new hardcover fiction novel for a friend’s birthday, and stay for the excellent one dollar paperback selection and stacks of vintage magazines. Topos is more than just a bookstore, but serves as a neighborhood arts hub, regularly hosting events from local author talks to mutual aid programming that connects to the larger network of Brooklyn’s creative community. Stay updated with their instagram to not miss out on their next event.  



I’m a recent (ish) west-coast transplant and creative working in non-profit media who is exploring New York City primarily through a preferred method of walking and eating. Always on the search for a good deal, a fun community arts event, and secret nooks to get a good blast of sunlight.