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Greenpoint’s Franklin Street is boro’s new hot spot

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The editors of the Lonely Planet guidebooks named Brooklyn one of the top-30 travel destinations for 2007 — and to think, they did it without even mentioning Greenpoint.

Indeed, a neighborhood best known for Polish food and a massive waterfront fire last May is quickly emerging as the hottest area of our already-hot borough. Not too far from the been-there, done-that streets of Williamsburg, trails are being blazed as formerly industrial strips come alive with bars, restaurants and shops owned and frequented by the area’s influx of young, imaginative residents.

The intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Franklin Street has become the epicenter of the neighborhood’s dining and nightlife scene, helping to further the revival that has put this warehouse-heavy neighborhood on the real-estate radar.

Without the same level of hipster glitz that defines much of neighboring Williamsburg’s scene — camera-toting tourists and television crews have yet to arrive en masse — Greenpoint is carving a niche for itself with cozy bars and inventive restaurants that have become must-hit spots for locals and curious visitors alike.

On Greenpoint, west of Franklin, marked by a neon sign reading “BAR,” is CoCo66, which opened in August 2005. Lined with booths and lit by dim candlelight, the lounge-y feel is only magnified by the availability of classic drinks like the Sidecar and that perfect antidote for winter (global warming or not): the hot toddy.

CoCo66 doesn’t skimp on details. Some of the tasty drinks are made with chocolate supplied by neighboring Brooklyn Chocolate & Cocoa Co. The billiards and ping-pong tables definitely have their fans, but most of the young, stylish drinkers file into the front room to listen to the DJs, who take over the sound system nightly. Even with just a faux fireplace, CoCo is definitely hot this winter.

On the corner of Greenpoint and Franklin is the Pencil Factory, a charming bar named for the lead-filled factory that once sat across the street. Formerly a watering hole popular with dockworkers, the five-year-old Pencil Factory’s warm, inviting space is a hit with local beer hunters.

In addition to an impressive selection of beer and single malt whiskies, the Pencil Factory offers wine, liquor and a small menu of pressed sandwiches. The crowd is always mellow and diverse — a good mix of the post-collegiate set plus artists and professionals who all enjoy the classic corner bar atmosphere.

Just across the street is the recently re-christened Lost and Found — formerly Lulu’s — a three-level, carnival-themed bar complete with video projections, Skee-ball and a photo booth. Regulars return for the local DJs, the cheap drinks and the complimentary hot dogs from 6 pm until 3:30 am.

Reminiscent of popular bars in Williamsburg and Manhattan’s East Village, Lost and Found adds a dash of color to the Greenpoint scene and gives residents their very own clubhouse.

“This is the start of the new Greenpoint,” Lost and Found manager Tommy Gunnz told GO Brooklyn. “As you go down Franklin, that’s where you see all the new stores and restaurants.”

Gunnz, who has lived in the neighborhood for four years, added, “I don’t like going to Williamsburg anymore, there’s more to do in Greenpoint now. The feeling I used to get there — five or six years ago — I’m now getting in Greenpoint.”

Next door to CoCo66 is Paloma, a family-owned restaurant that started serving up its creative dishes and imaginative cocktails in April 2005.

“Artists who come to the neighborhood, younger people, are the ones who are opening businesses,” said co-owner and executive chef Camille Becerra. “The locations further from Manhattan Avenue are more reasonably priced.”

With room for 60 in the loft-like space, Paloma attracts a crowd, thanks to Becerra’s New American food, as well as art installations and live music on Friday nights, giving a gallery-like feel to the restaurant.

Paloma has a maverick style that spills off the plates and draws hungry locals for weekend brunch and dinner seven nights a week.

“We used to say that it was great that you didn’t have to leave Brooklyn, but now we say it’s great that we don’t have to leave our neighborho­od,” Becerra said. “Everything’s here.”

The darling of the strip is the Queen’s Hideaway at Franklin and Green streets — and you can tell because it’s been jammed every night since it opened in May 2005. The food is great, of course, but the greater hunger, said owner Liza Queen, was simply for a quirky spot with a garden and a relaxing, Southern-influenced menu.

“It was just so obvious [to open a restaurant],” said Queen, who lives next door to her eatery. “I was bored as a resident, and I knew I was hungry.”

Her instincts have paid off, as the Queen’s Hideaway is now the de facto cantina for local artists, longtime Greenpoint residents (for whom Queen says she makes sure to keep weekday entree prices low) and intrepid foodies coming in from around the city.

These five hotspots are thriving, along with a smattering of boutiques, coffee shops, galleries and nightclubs such as Club Europa, which has started hosting rock shows in addition to dance nights; and the much-talked-about Studio B, a former Polish disco which has been reborn as a hip dance club and lounge.

The result is a once-forgotten corner of Brooklyn that has become an entertainment and dining destination.

Club Europa (98 Meserole Ave. at Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint) accepts MasterCard and Visa. Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 5 pm to 4 am. For information, call (718) 383-5723 or visit www.europaclub.com.

CoCo66 (66 Greenpoint Ave. between Franklin and West streets in Greenpoint) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. The bar is open daily, from 4 pm to 4 am. For information, call (718) 389-7392.

Lost and Found (113 Franklin St. at Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint) accepts American Express, Diner’s Club, MasterCard and Visa. Open daily, from 3 pm until 4 am, and complimentary hot dogs are served from 6 pm to 3:30 am. For information, call (718) 383-6000.

Paloma (60 Greenpoint Ave. between West and Franklin streets in Greenpoint) accepts American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $7-$13. Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday, and brunch on weekends, from 11 am to 3 pm. Closed Mondays. For information, call (718) 349-2400 or visit www.palomanyc.com.

The Pencil Factory (42 Franklin St. at Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Open Monday through Friday, from 3 pm until 4 am, and weekends, from 1 pm to 4 am. For information, call (718) 609-5858.

The Queen’s Hideaway (222 Franklin St. between Green and Huron streets in Greenpoint) accepts cash only. Entrees: $12-$20. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For information, call (718) 383-2355 or visit thequeenshideaway.com.

Studio B (259 Banker St. between Meserole and Calyer streets in Greenpoint) accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. For information, including bar hours, call (718) 389-1880.

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