Oscar’s Neighborhood Guide: Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn

Oscar’s wife jokingly calls him the “Mayor of Nostrand Avenue”, but the title is pretty accurate. He seems to know everyone who walks through the doors of his Brooklyn coffee shop Tinto, and he’s buddies with all the small business owners up and down the block. His huge, welcoming smile is his standard greeting.

Oscar is an Airbnb host and when guests arrive at his Crown Heights home, he makes them feel like they’re part of the neighborhood by sharing his favorite places to eat, drink and shop.

Here are some of Oscar’s recommendations:

“Our guests want to learn about the neighborhood they’re staying in. When travelers stay here, they eat where the locals do, shop where they shop, go out where they go out. They get a real Brooklyn experience.”

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“I always offer my guests a complimentary breakfast at the coffee shop. Tinto becomes like a second home for them. I constantly have my guests stopping in during their day to say hello to me and to ask me for suggestions for their plans for the night. Most of my regulars come in here every day. So when my guests come in for breakfast and take their map out, my regulars give them suggestions on where they should visit too.”  

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“It’s great having guests in a neighborhood that doesn’t normally see much tourism. It is really important that the guests staying in our neighborhood are spending in our neighborhood too. Airbnb is something that is very exciting for local business owners.”

Oscar always recommends Gloria’s Caribbean Cuisine for it’s authentic West Indian roti and curries. This place is so good that even Anthony Bourdain is a fan.

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“When my guests want to try something local, I always send them to see my friend Artemio and his family at Taqueria Milear.”

Recently opened, this small restaurant serves up authentic mexican meals using Artemio’s grandmothers recipes.

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“Our neighborhood is changing — but you get a great mixture of old and new Brooklyn. Nostrand Ave is a really good spot where everything is working in a really special way.”

Oscar also suggests the newly opened King Tai Bar. It’s named after the chinese food restaurant that used to be in the space, but the vibe is seaside Art Deco.

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For guests with a sweet tooth, Oscar points towards Richol Bakery. Pastry Chef Albert Richol spent most of his life living and working in Paris, but brought his confections to Brooklyn a few years ago.

“Every business owner brings their own flavor to the neighborhood and that’s part of what makes it so diverse and exciting.”

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“My guests go to a lot of the businesses that are located near our home. They truly help the local businesses in the area.”

After a long day of exploring Brooklyn, some of Oscar’s guests look to unwind. He recommends they take a class at Urban Asanas, a locally owned yoga and pilates studio right across the street from Tinto.

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At the end of their stay, Oscar’s guests often leave handwritten notes thanking him for his hospitality and for introducing them to his diverse Brooklyn neighborhood. They value the real New York experience he provides from Tinto’s locally roasted coffee and delicious Brooklyn-made treats to his in-depth knowledge of the area. Many guest invite Oscar to come visit their corners of the world–and he would take them up on it if he could ever take time away from Tinto.

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