20 Great Brooklyn Restaurants To Try This Year
With a huge choice of restaurants on offer in Brooklyn (up to 7,000 according to the latest NYC Health Department data), it's not easy to trawl through the listing sites to determine where you absolutely need to eat on a visit to the borough. So we've done it for you, below are the 20 best restaurants in Brooklyn right now that we think you should try.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an entirely new world when you walk into Ainslie. Located in an old warehouse in Williamsburg, Ainslie’s three levels feature a huge outdoor patio, beer garden, 2 bars, and an open-air rooftop. While it’s easy to assume such a big place would lose its sense of personal touch, Chef John DeLucie ensures the wood-fired pizzas, small plates, and fresh pasta impress. You’ll often find larger groups enjoying the open layout, however with smartly designed intimate spaces, it’s just as nice to enjoy a date night or catch up with a couple of friends.
In keeping to true Thai tradition, Tong is all about family-style dining with a variety of dishes. You won’t find giant servings of Pad Thai you’re expected to finish on your own. Instead, Chef Chetkangwan Thipruetree (who also goes by the simpler name, Jade) focuses on serving kub klaem, aka small plates. Each deserves its own spot on your table, but if you have to pick a couple, their Gai Tod Hat Yai, fried crunchy chicken thigh topped with shallots and sweet chili sauce, or their Tod Hau Phee, crispy banana blossom pancake with cucumber relish are must-tries.
The Rabbit Hole
Owners Lawrence and Ayako Elliot were spot on when they named Rabbithole Restaurant. A true hole-in-the-wall restaurant near Williamsburg bridge, you'd likely walk right past the shop if it wasn't for the excited chatter escaping out the door. Decorations are kept to a minimum, with exposed brick and iron fixtures setting the casual atmosphere for customers who want a freshly baked scone and coffee. Then towards the back of the restaurant and in the tiny outdoor patio, sit-down dining is in full swing as diners enjoy Lamb Burgers, Pan Seared Salmon, and Housemade Tagliatelle.
Competition is tight for Brooklyn’s best pizza joint. However, the people have spoken, and nearly everyone will tell you Julian’s tops the list. It all starts with the homemade thin crust that provides just enough base without creating a heavy pie. Next comes the toppings, but don’t expect anything too extravagant as pizza legend and owner Patsy Grimaldi knows the best pizzas keep things simple. Even if you wanted to pile high one of their classic pizzas with extras, you’d be told off and given a limit of two. We recommend listening to Patsy and opt for their classic Margherita Pizza topped only with tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
Verde on Smith
It's all about the homely feel at Verde on Smith. There are no dress codes or fancy small plates, just good old-fashioned food served in a cozy and intimate space. Servers seem to have a sixth sense, happily around when you need another drink but also know when to leave your table to enjoy the company of one another. While dinner is a guaranteed hit, it's their everyday buttomless brunch that's starting to get the most attention. From 10 am to 4 pm every day, you can enjoy bottomless cocktails for an hour for under $20 – and yes, that includes bottomless mimosas!
Hot Bread Kitchen
At Hot Bread Kitchen, the focus is on the people. A not-for-profit focusing on creating opportunities for low-income women in New York City, the meaning they put into every loaf is truly awe-inspiring. There’s no set menu or style of bread. Instead, Hot Bread Kitchen encourages workers to focus on their own ethnicity and what type of bread they grew up on – naan, bialy, pepita square, challah, you name it. The store and bakery are located in La Marqueta marketplace, and as you wait for your order to be wrapped up, you’ll get a true sense of why Hot Bread Kitchen is a neighborhood favorite.
Court Street Tavern
Court Street Tavern isn’t just about the food. It’s an all-day fun for the entire family experience that has set the bar high for new restaurants hitting the Brooklyn scene. During the winter months, you’ll find kids whizzing around on their outdoor skating rink made of Glice, a new technology that feels like ice under skates. Inside, you’ll find parents joyfully sipping hot drinks while keeping an eye on their little ones tuckering themselves out. As the night settles in, Court Street Tavern embraces an adult crowd enjoying elegant cocktails and champagne mignonette oysters.
Everything is homemade at Pasta Louise, and owner Allison Louise Arevalo promises this will never change. Opened recently in July of 2020, Allison took a chance against all odds to open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, and it has well paid off. Her secret isn’t anything crazy, just to simply give the neighborhood a place they can safely hang out with friends, enjoy feel-good food, and sip wine. Plus, for those not quite ready to return to the restaurant scene, Pasta Louise offers take-home pasta meals kits so you can enjoy the same fresh tastes at the comfort of your own dining table.
The best and worst thing about street food is that, well, it’s on the street. The prices are right, and the flavors are spot on, but sometimes you just want a cold drink and a nice place to sit while enjoying your food. Well, Bunker has your answer. Serving Vietnamese-style street food in a colorful and quirky restaurant in Bushwick, it’s an ideal place to spend an evening with friends. Chef Jimmy Tu sends out a range of Pho noodles, Bánh mì (Vietnamese style baguette), spring rolls, and elegant mains from the kitchen. Even if you’ve never dabbled in Vietnamese food before, the servers will be more than happy to help you out.
As you enjoy a half-pound Grass Fred Burger and a tap beer from a local brewery, you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped back in time at James Restaurant. Leather topped stools surround a small bar, and a high tin ceiling allows the small space to feel intimate without feeling crowded. There’s nothing overly fancy or hipster here, and you might even find the menu to be underwhelming – don’t let this fool you. Every dish is made with local and seasonal produce, allowing flavors to shine through as they should. Their classic burger definitely tops the list of favorite, served on sesame brioche with herb fries.
Part comedy club, part corner bar, and part neighborhood hangout is what you’ll find at Dean Street. The drinks are cheap, the menu is all about southern comfort food, and there’s no doubt you’ll find owner John Longo chatting with locals over a beer. Happy Hour is especially a hit for those in the area. With $4 draft beer from 5 pm to 8 pm every day, it’s easy to see why folks come for an after-work drink and happily stay for dinner. A favorite is their Shrimp & Grits served with onion gravy and scallions, which pairs perfectly with fried pickles and a cold beer.
Northern Bell is a charming restaurant and bar in Brooklyn with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to enjoy delicious dinners and drinks. They are purveyors of fine beer and even have their own ‘Mug Club’ with benefits and special evenings for members. You can dine indoors or outdoors on the pretty patio, feasting on dishes like Peachwood pork tacos, 13 hour brisket and fried chicken sandwiches, plus there are sharing plates available for larger groups. It’s also worth mentioning that Northern Bell was recently voted to have the best wings in NYC – so don’t leave without sampling some with their famous sauces!
Alchemy is a relaxed, comfortable pub/restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. This refurbished, dark wood eatery serves a small, yet creative menu alongside cocktails, beers and wines. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors in the garden or on the sidewalk and Happy Hour from 4pm – 6.30pm from Monday to Friday. With delicious appetisers such as butternut squash soup and PEI mussels in white wine and mains including ravioli with spinach and ricotta, pan-seared salmon or Vegan & Gluten free veggie burger with all the trimmings, there’s something for everyone.
Alta Calidad means for “high quality” in Spanish and offers innovative, delicious Mexican cuisine in the Prospect Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Chef Akhtar Nawab’s goal is to provide authentic cuisine and delivers with charred steak tacos, pumpkin blossom quesadillas and Mexican roti with chorizo verde and black beans. This hip Brooklyn restaurant also has an extensive cocktail, champagne, wine and beer menu, and if you don’t fancy dining in, you can have food delivered to your home.
This laid-back old school restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn offers the opportunity to dine in a bygone era. With red vinyl booths, tiffany style light fixtures and checked table cloths, it’s a comfortable, casual diner with exceptional food. With plenty of home-cooked favourites for lunch and dinner like baked clams, stacked onion rings, cheeseburger deluxe and fudge brownie sundae, it’s a place to dine with family and friends. This restaurant has featured in Thrillist’s ‘best restaurants in New York’ in 2018 and Bon Appetit’s ‘Restaurant’s we loved in 2018’ and Bernie’s still continues to impress regulars and tourists to this day.
Claro is a Michelin star restaurant in Brooklyn where Oaxaca, Mexico meets New York. Chef T.J. Steele’s love of Mexican food and its culture has, over the years evolved this restaurant into a world-class eatery. He used to live in Oaxaca and visits regularly to source hand-picked non-GMO corn for Claro’s menu from local farms. The restaurant curates everything by hand from chorizo to cheeses and moles and all of Claro’s meat is organic and locally sourced wherever possible. Each area of the restaurant has Mexican influence, with woodcut prints and murals on the walls to hand crafted bar tiles. Diners can watch tostadas and memelas cooking on the wood-fire in the backyard and see tortillas being pressed before being served with delicious fillings. In short, if you’re looking for a unique Mexican dining experience in Brooklyn, Claro is the place to be.
Daigo Hand Roll Bar
Sushi lovers in Brooklyn go to Daigo Hand Roll Bar at Dekalb Market. This establishment is renowned for having some of the best hand rolls in NYC and there are plenty to choose from with spicy salmon, eel avocado and Alaskan snow crab all on offer. You can sample Daigo’s Special Bowl or even treat yourself to a rice cup if you fancy something different. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday every week from 12 noon until 8pm and even sell gift cards if you know someone else with a penchant for sushi!
This stylish Mexican inspired eatery on Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn is lodged between two brownstones with a verdant outdoor patio and chic interiors. In 2019, Oxomoco was added to NYC’s exclusive list of Michelin star establishments, thanks to a unique menu and the creative flair of Chef Justin Bazdarich and his team. Oxomoco’s varied offerings feature inventive dishes like beet chorizo tacos, broccoli tamal, and Arrachera flank steak, with a selection of accompanying salsas. Their cuisine filled plates are akin to colourful works of art, and for ardent foodies, this place is a must visit for that alone. Oxomoco is open from 12 noon until 3pm for brunch and from 5.30 until 10pm for dinner service 7 days a week.
Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats
For freshly prepared, traditional Italian recipes just like nonna used to make, head for Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats. The owner Giovanni Tafuri was raised in a Brooklyn-Italian household, and when you step inside the restaurant you may feel like you are dining in their home. From the vintage family photos and antique heirlooms to fresh ingredients prepared with a passion for Italian cuisine, you know you’re in for a special treat. Whether you dine indoors in the family-friendly, exposed brick wall restaurant or prefer to be alfresco on the sidewalk watching the world go by, Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats caters to it all. With authentic dishes to choose from like bruschetta, steamed mussels in wine sauce, lasagne and nonna’s famous meatballs, this is a restaurant you’ll return to again and again.
Parlor Coffee Roasters
And finally... In 2012, Dillon Edwards founded Parlor Coffee with one espresso machine and a dream to roast the finest coffee in the city. Initially located in the back of a barber’s shop in Williamsburg, it soon became one of the most talked about coffee bars in town and quickly became the supplier for hotels and restaurants throughout NYC. Today, Parlor are tucked away inside a repurposed carriage house near Brooklyn Navy Yard, roasting quality coffee for shops and brewers around the world. Although this doesn't fit into the 'restaurant' category of the article, the roastery is open on weekends as a tasting room, so if you’re eating out in Brooklyn we suggest you stop by here for your coffee fix. If you simply can’t wait, their website has merch and roasted coffee beans for sale, delivered right to your door. Currently you can stop by the canteen at the weekend from 9am to 3pm to check out their freshly roasted coffee or pick up some home brewing gear. Check their website or facebook page for most up to date opening hours.
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