While some might say Brooklyn lies in the shadows of Manhattan’s world-class cuisine, others will tell you this borough has emerged as new player in the foodie world. While the new guard begins to hit their stride, the old standards are still a favorite throughout Brooklyn, including the classic pizza joints that made the Big Apple famous.
So next time you visit New York city, consider a full-time stay in Brooklyn where you also find classic museums, plenty of outdoor activities and easily some of the most underrated food options in the United States.
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, 109 N 3rd Street
Details: Gotta love a restaurant that consistently blogs, but Egg is much more than words. A staple in the neighborhood for years, this breakfast spot has a farm-to-table approach unlike many places. Egg has its own farm just outside the city.
What to eat: Eggs Rothko (it’s like a piece of art); Duck hash; Caramelized grapefruit with mint.
Mile End Deli
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights, 97 Hoyt Street
Details: Named after a Montreal neighborhood, Mile End Deli is home to classic Jewish styles of smoked meats and homemade bagels. The bagels are a version from our Canadian friends, which means they are smaller, sweeter and a little flatter. The deli also has a delicious lunch menu too, and yes they have the Canadian favorite, poutine.
What to eat: Cosmo’s creation with a black seed bagel; Larry David (whitefish salad, slaw, cream cheese and more); Mont Royal (potato latkes).
Neighborhood: Bed Stuy, 448 Layfayette Avenue
Details: Doughnuts are a breakfast food… right??? A place like Dough might change your mind if you believe differently. Serving basic cake and yeast varieties, Dough! is known for its delicious doughkas, twisted yeast loaves inspired by the Eastern European babkas. Tip: Ask for your doughkas warmed up.
What to eat: Mexican chocolate doughkas; Lemon buttermilk cake doughnut; Plain glazed yeast doughnut; Horchata yeast doughnut.
Neighborhood: Greenpoint, 18 Bedford Avenue
Details: If you’re looking for a breakfast bistro feel, Five Leaves has an eclectic menu of breakfast food, including some twists on your favorites. Think warm, homemade croissants and fresh coffee mixed with tables of Brooklyn hipsters working on their computers.
What to eat: Mushroom toast; Moroccan scramble; Matcha chia pudding. Relax, they have breakfast basics too like ricotta pancakes.
Neighborhood: Midwood, 150 Ainslie Street
Details: Okonomi is not your traditional American breakfast, and that’s a good thing. Traditionally Japanese in every sense, Okonomi serves a single breakfast meal between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (4 p.m. on weekends) The ornately decorated plate will give you thoughts of a fine-dining experience too.
What to eat: Single serving could include: Roasted fish, miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables and an onsen egg.
Di Fara Pizza
Neighborhood: Bushwick, 1424 Avenue J
Details: There are debates every day about the best New York pizza. Most, though, will tell you to go with the tried-and-true, and in Brooklyn that’s Di Fara pizza. Every pie is made by the owner himself Dom De Marco, who opened this legendary pizzeria in 1965.
What to eat: Classic pizza; Square pizza (Sicilian!); Offers broccoli rabe as a pizza topping.
Neighborhood: Bushwick, 93 Ralph Avenue
Details: Easily one of the best vegan options in Brooklyn, Toad Style serves one of the most innovative menus in the borough. The name comes from the 1978 movie Five Deadly Venoms about five Kung Fu fighters who have animal-themed fighting styles. Check out the Instagram account – mouth-watering photos.
What to eat: Banh Mi sandwich with fried oyster mushrooms; BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwich; Homemade, hand-cut french fries.
two8two Bar & Burger
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill, 282 Atlantic Avenue
Details: Named one of the 20 best burgers in America by Men’s Journal, Two8Two Burger offers 11 burgers, five hot dogs and a pretty snazzy beer and cocktail menu in a pub-like atmosphere. The meat blend is ground daily by local butcher Los Paisanos and formed into plump five-ounce patties.
What to eat: Self-named two8two burger with poblano chiles; Half/Half burger – 50% beef, 50% bacon; Onion rings.
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, 109 Montrose Avenue
Details: Sometime you just want simplicity when you’re hungry. Nam Nam’s menu keeps it simple: banh mi sandwiches, noodle bowls, coffee and teas. That’s it. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant delivers on some of the best Vietnamese food in Brooklyn with its simple concept.
What to eat: Eight choices for food, so choose well.
Details: Sometimes a fast-casual restaurant is calling your name. Well, Purbird is here to answer. Home to flame-grilled organic chicken and homey-type sides, Purbird cooks a moist chicken which is brined for extra tenderness. Tip: Ask for the chicken noodle soup if you’re in the mood.
What to eat: Purbird chicken hand held pie; Chicken thigh wrap with purbird sauce; Jalapeno mashed potatoes.
DeStefano’s Steak House
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, 89 Conselyea Street
Details: If you’re lucky enough to get a table at DeStefano’s Steak House, then some say “you have arrived” and have discovered the best steak house in all of New York City. And perhaps, no other restaurant is more the borough than DeStefano’s, which prides itself as being a “tribute to Brooklyn.”
What to eat: Portobello Napolitano (mushrooms stuffed with spinach, goat and blue cheese); New York Strip; 20oz Veal Chop; Wedge cut spicy steak fries.
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, 27 Broadway
Details: Taco ’bout a good time. If you’re looking for nibbles instead of a whole meal, Donna’s simple menu of tacos and shared sides is a perfect Brooklyn eatery. Nowhere in Brooklyn better encapsulates a fresh, modern combination of live music and dining establishment than Donna, which also has a superb cocktail program.
What to eat: The menu changes seasonally, but churros are always a must for the sweet tooth.
Neighborhood: Williamsburg, 567 Union Avenue
Details: Full of beams and tall windows, the loft-like space at Lilia is helmed by renowned chef Missy Robbins, who is known throughout the city for her pasta technique. Housemade pastas and seafood dishes highlight the Italian menu, which celebrates the regional palettes of the country. Reservations recommended.
What to eat: Cacio e Pepe Fritelle; Grilled clams; Sheeps Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti; Squash Filled Ravioli.
Neighborhood: Prospect Park, 659 Vanderbilt Avenue
Details: The menu changes at Olmsted. Some might say seasonally, others may say daily. When you have your own garden in the backyard of the restaurant, the Olmsted chefs use their imagination to create the most unique food in the borough – and at reasonable prices. Reservations recommended.
What to eat: Duck Liver Mousse; Kale Crab Rangoon; Dave’s Trout; Peanut Butter and Jello for dessert (that’s not a typo).
Vinegar Hill House
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill, 72 Hudson Avenue
Details: Walking through the neighborhood, there’s a chance you will walk by Vinegar Hill House a few times as you stare at the beautiful row houses. The Brooklyn restaurant blends in quite nicely with the landscape. But the moment you walk in, it just feels right – very homey. If it’s nice weather, ask to sit in the quiet garden out back. FYI: The owners have also opened an all-day cafe in the Dumbo neighborhood.
What to eat: Red Wattle Country Chop; Cast Iron Chicken; Chocolate Guinness Cake.
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens, 524 Court Street
Details: Brooklyn is always abuzz about Buttermilk Channel for brunch. Classic foods elevated with unique ingredients and a fun vibe that rarely disappoints. From creative egg scrambles to three options for Bloody Marys, this charming Brooklyn cafe is one of the best in the borough.
What to eat: Walnut Sticky Bun; Scramble with House-cured lox, green onions and cream cheese; Pecan Pie French Toast; Three different versions of Bloody Marys.
Court Street Grocers
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens, 485 Court Street
Details: Weekend brunch… at a grocery store? Well, technically it’s the attached cafe, but yes! If you’re looking for basics done extremely well, then Court Street Grocers delivers in spades. Brunch includes fresh fruit and the Brooklyn restaurant’s homemade Irish soda bread with every meal.
What to eat: The Hungry Hobokenite; New England Crab Salad croissant; Court Street cheeseburger (make it a breakfast burger).
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill, 127 Atlantic Avenue
Details: With more upscale options for brunch, this Cobble Hill restaurant lets you watch its chefs in action as they create dishes for the entire restaurant. The modern decor, mixed with a gorgeous, full herb garden focal point, hints at the seasonal focus on the menu. Expect a wait, but you will be thrilled with the results.
What to eat: Monkey bread; Turkish eggs; Leek and Chevre Scramble; Biscuit Benedict.
Neighborhood: Dumbo, 5 Front Street
Details: Now it’s time for something a little different… 100% Mexican brunch. The owners of Colonie opened Gran Electrica in 2013 where inside, the two-room space is split up by an apartment complex (no joke) and the outdoor area sits just under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Check out the eclectic menu, which will elicit some oohs and ahhs.
What to eat: Oaxacan granola; Chilaquiles; Torta Milanesa (add egg); Churros.
Neighborhood: WIlliamsburg, 164 Bedford Avenue
Details: It’s rare to find a place that serves weekday brunch, and Sweet Chick aims to fill that sweet spot. With its laid-back vibe and fun cocktail menu, this Brooklyn brunch place has a famous musician among its ownership: NYC rapper Nas.
What to eat: Chicken and waffles (with five choices of waffles); Kale BLT salad; Black Bean Cake And Scramble; Sloppy Duck Sliders (weekday).
A little something for the sweet tooth
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill, 513 Henry Street
Details: And now for some nostalgia – a historic soda fountain with menu options that include specialty sundaes, homemade sodas and ice cream floats. Brooklyn Farmacy is the perfect place to celebrate a milestone, impress a date or just making memories with family.
What to eat: Egg cream; Cherry Lime Rickey soda; Sir Twixalot sundae; Affugazi Affogato sundae (espresso-based); Mr. Potato Head sundae.
The Chocolate Room
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill, 269 Court Street
Details: The name says it all. If it’s chocolate you want, then The Chocolate Room is a must-visit Brooklyn confectionary. The menu at the dessert cafe includes individual chocolate confections, scrumptious desserts, handmade ice cream, dessert wines, coffee and beers from all over the world.
What to eat: Ricotta cheesecake; Chocolate Room pudding; Black Chocolate Stoat float; Chocolate Caramel popcorn.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds
Neighborhood: Park Slope, 439 3rd Avenue
Details: Sometime it just takes a slice of pie to cure that long day of exploring Brooklyn. Run by two sisters from South Dakota, Four & Twenty Blackbirds is inspired by their grandmother Liz, who made the desserts in their family restaurant. The Brooklyn dessert spot has also opened a pie counter and bar in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.
What to eat: Salty Honey; Salted Caramel Apple; Black Bottom Oat; Buttermilk Chess.
Van LeeuWen Artisan Ice Cream
Neighborhood: Multiple locations and neighborhoods
Details: Van LeeuWen is Brooklyn’s hometown ice cream, started in 2008 out of a ice cream truck and now made fresh each day out of the Greenpoint neighborhood. The company takes pride in their classic and vegan ice creams made with just a handful of fresh ingredients.
What to eat: Flavors – Honeycomb; Chocolate Banana Cream Pie; Peanut Butter Marshmallow Crunch; Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.