Are you still looking for dining destinations in Manhattan? Brooklyn’s where the gastronomic adventures are truly taking place. Here are the best Brooklyn restaurants to check out next time you’re in town.
So much has been made of Brooklyn in recent years, one wonders if the day will soon arrive when travellers forego Manhattan entirely and head straight for this boisterous “outer borough” instead. Among its myriad charms: World-over fashion trends are sparked in the minds of barely-legal Williamsburg residents, who don their haute apparel at the go-to bars and clubs of the under-thirty set. Chic city-goers and their families/significant others are getting cosy from Brooklyn Heights to Bushwick to Sunset Park. The art scene in DUMBO rivals that of Chelsea, Montmartre, Wynwood, and Cork Street. And perhaps the greatest thing about Brooklyn these days – the food.
Delightful bites abound in Kings County (yes, that’s Brooklyn). Foodies travel far and wide to peruse the well-culled provisions at BKLYN Larder and devour artisan sandwiches—arguably the finest chicken cutlet on God’s green earth. Smorgasburg, the flea-and-food market of your dreams, offers local items such as Brooklyn Piggies (pigs-in-a-blanket), Dun-Well Doughnuts, Handsome Hanks’ fish and chips, and to-die for lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound. The borough’s chefs are constantly demonstrating their daring recipes on the Food Network, while local products like Kings County Beef Jerky, Empire Mayo, and Brooklyn Soda Works stock the shelves at the finest food shops in the country.
In When Harry Met Sally, Carrie Fisher said: “Restaurants are to people in the 80s what theatre was to people in the 60s.” Well, Brooklyn restaurants in the here-and-now are the life’s blood of de rigueur New York nightlife, prompting hoity-toits from the 212 to elbow their way onto the L train from Monday to Sunday. Chef’s Table at the Brooklyn Fare in Boerum Hill has become virtually impossible to penetrate, as it’s only 18 seats and the proud owner of three Michelin stars.
Fret not, intrepid diners… Brooklyn has so many fantastic eateries—more every week—so you’ll never go hungry, nor will your palate get bored. Let’s start with Andrew Tarlow, whose empire includes boundary-pushing, artisan-centric New American restaurants that are unilaterally revered by the city’s toughest food snobs. Tarlow’s casual, beloved Diner serves elevated takes on greasy spoon fare. Marlow & Sons is a cool café and oyster bar drawing on cherry-picked ingredients; Marlow & Daughters is the shop where these fab foodstuffs can be acquired for snacking and personal experimentation. He has the hopping Greenpoint bar-cafe Achilles Heel as well as Fort Greene’s Roman’s, where the menu changes nightly and flavours never fail to make palates purr. And we can’t ignore the Wythe Hotel—boisterous and oh-so boutique, with its resident uber-cool nightspot The Ides and high-minded restaurant Reynard.
And that’s just scratching the surface of the best Brooklyn restaurants. In Williamsburg there is Egg, arguably the city’s finest breakfast (sorry Norma’s); the gorgeous, Gatsby-esque oyster bar Maison Premiere (take it slow on the absinthe); Cal Elliott’s nuanced and comforting Rye; marvellous and meaty Fette Sau (serving the kind of pork belly you’ll dream of years from now); rib-sticker Allswell; ingredient-conscious (and adorable) Rabbithole; and perhaps the best darn classic steakhouse on the planet, Peter Luger’s.
And then there’s all that is not Williamsburg—which is plenty. The suped-up Southern fare at Carroll Gardens’ Seersucker delivers night after night. (Hello, Mississippi catfish curry and tender-crunchy fried chicken sided with rib-sticking cheddar grits!) Michelin-starred Saul from super-chef Sam Bolton, a long-time standout in Boerum Hill, has moved to the exquisite Brooklyn Museum in Park Slope—and Bolton’s game-centric gastro-artistry fits right in. We swoon for the farm-to-table philosophy driving Court Street’s Prime Meats, not to mention its wholly approachable (and delish) sister spot Frankie’s 457 Spuntino (home to our favourite haute meatball parmesan sandwich). Smith Street is home to always-strong (and hard-to-get-into) The Grocery, as well as the cosseting and creative Battersby.
Al Di La Trattoria in Park Slope is consistently tagged as one of the best Brooklyn restaurants and most sought-after sups (braised rabbit a go-go), while its sister spots Bar Corvo and Lincoln Station offer a similar sense of stand-out quality in Crown Heights. Also in Park Slope is the Brooklyn outpost of Mary’s Fish Camp, where seafood is served simply and sublimely. But wait! Have you swooned over the French country offerings and locally-sourced wine list at Fort Greene’s iCi, or the spicy fisherman’s stew and salsa verde-sided Berkshire pork chop at nearby Walter’s? The cornmeal dusted skate at Prospect Heights’ James? And what about DUMBO’s classic old-school pizzeria Patsy Grimaldi’s? It seems like you have some chowing to do.
Are we missing anything? Yes. There are a million more spots worthy of mentioning. For a long time, snobby Manhattanites liked to jokingly say things like, “Brooklyn, where’s that?” or “I don’t leave ‘the borough.’” Well, the joke’s on them. Get thee to Brooklyn, and come hungry.
Header image: The exterior of Roman's © Roman’s
What are the best Brooklyn restaurants you’ve found on your New York travels? Where do you eat when you’re in town? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Andrew Stone
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About the author: AndrewStoneAndrew Stone
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Andrew Stone covers architecture and design for Interior Design magazine and is the former editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Confidential. A busy bee within the worlds of culture, style, and dining, he has interviewed celebrities and hot shots aplenty for various publications. Stone nurtures his two-decade love affair with his city as the resident Manhattan reporter for Hg2.com. Stone is the author of both Hg2 New York and Hg2 Los Angeles. What makes him a hedonist? "The desire to have firsthand knowledge of life's great offerings."