The 20 Most Essential Bushwick Restaurants
Explore a range of global cuisines dotted along the L and JZ lines.
A mecca for artists, creatives, and food lovers, the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn is a destination for nightlife, street art, and, of course, dining.
Originally a farming community, the image of Bushwick you may know today is fairly industrial. That’s because dozens of factories were erected in the neighborhood during the 1850s and 1860s, attracting immigrant workers from Germany, and later, from Italy. Communities of artists began populating the neighborhood as early as the 1980s and shortly thereafter came the ultra-hip art galleries, converted warehouse music venues, and restaurants offering a range of global cuisines. Today, the tight-knit community is predominately Black and Latino, and while the neighborhood has been significantly gentrified much like its neighbors Williamsburg and Greenpoint, there are still family-owned businesses hanging on to their ground despite rapidly rising real estate prices.
Located in between East Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Ridgewood, Queens, and Cypress Hills, the culinary breadth of the area ranges from humble taquerias to lauded pizzerias. For whatever you’re currently craving, here are some of our favorite essential Bushwick restaurants.
Oaxaca-born chef Zack Wangeman and his wife Diana expanded their original Sobre Masa concept with this offshoot debut in 2021. The space itself is split between a tortilla factory and retail shop in the front, then a 60-seat taqueria and horseshoe-shaped bar in the back. Here, the focus lies on the crafted daily selection of tortillas made with masa from more than a dozen heirloom corn varieties from Mexico. The result is healthy and flavorful tacos stuffed with proteins like pineapple vinegar-marinated Al Pastor, Short Rib Bistec, and garlicky Cauliflower accompanied by a flight of assorted salsas. Designed by beverage director Gaston Graffigna (Bua, The Winslow), the cocktail menu also spotlights Mexican flavors with the In the Clouds (rum, corn liqueur, dehydrated lime) and a take on the mezcal martini, Papazote (epazote-infused vermouth, yellow Chartreuse, olive bitters).
After briefly shutting its doors in July of 2021, armed with a revamped menu, homestyle Vietnamese eatery Bunker reopened in early 2022. Led by Eleven Madison Park alum chef Jimmy Tu, the spot has now pivoted from Hanoi street food to hearty interpretations of Vietnamese cuisine. The previously beloved barbecue brisket banh mi’s are still a focus, along with the sublime additions of a runny egg-topped Grilled Smoked Lemongrass Pork Chop with Vietnamese fried rice; Caramel Wild Shrimp Claypot (ginger, chili, quail egg, fried taro); and the Smoked Chicken Phở (which was a previous sell-out hit on the original menu).
One of three concepts from chef and owner Nasim Alikhani, this sister cafe, to well-established Sofreh in Prospect Heights, is centered around authentic and traditional Persian baked goods and tea. Opened in fall of 2021, there’s a range of sweet and savory bites like the rose buttercream-topped Yazdi Cupcake; Latifeh Pastry (pistachio cream filled sandwiched between two sponge cake discs); and Barbari Bread with whipped feta, butter, and sour cherry preserves, which are perfectly complemented by a cup of the house black tea mixed with hints of cinnamon bark, rose petals, and cardamom. Courtesy of long communal tables, free wifi, and a sunshine-streaming skylight the spot acts as a sublime remote work destination or calming weekend hangout spot.
Centered around the integral role that coffee plays in the Ethiopian economy and culture is this plant-forward restaurant. What began as a pop-up and Smorgasburg vendor, the menu consists of vegan and vegetarian food offerings with communal-style staples like the signature Feast For Two meals that includes nine entrees (choose from Gomen, Keysir Selata, Misir Wot, Yater Kik Alicha, and more) in addition to Injera Rolls on the side. Along with the cardamom and cloves brewed coffee, there’s cocktails like the Cucumba! (gin, celery, grapefruit shrub, cucumber seltzer) to peruse.
Channeling memories of being raised in East Coast Italian-American households, Paul Cacici and Domenick Gianfrancesco recreate no-frills homestyle Italian sandwiches and pasta from their childhoods. At the deli counter, order up a Meatball Parm, sandwiched between Little Italy’s Parisi Bakery bread, or a cold cut classic Carmenta’s Italian Combo, which is stacked with mortadella, soppressata, Calabrian chili, housemade mozzarella, and red onion. Alternatively, the Rigatoni is a top contender on the pasta-menu consisting of spicy vodka sauce, guanciale, and grana padano.
The history of this Vietnamese restaurant goes back to 2013, before chef Eric Tran (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) took over the kitchen in the fall of 2020. Keeping the name and cuisine but with a revamped menu, a la carte seasonal dishes range from Spicy Green Curry with vegetables and tender sweet, sour, and spicy Confit Duck Necks to the four or six course family-style đặc biệt tasting. The space itself feels like a chic artist’s apartment scattered with house plants, vinyl albums hanging on the walls, and a serene koi pond set in the back patio.
Since opening in 2015, this seasonal New American establishment has helped solidify Bushwick’s status as a competitive culinary powerhouse. Nestled in a 50-seat converted warehouse, the spot features a contemporary take on rustic dishes to make up the concise and lauded menu. Led by chef Kevin Adey (Northeast Kingdom), the bell of the ball is the housemade pasta, which is made in-house from grains sourced from Upstate New York, and proteins cooked in the wood-burning oven. Guest favorites include Scarpinocc (burrata, brown butter, cauliflower) and Roman Gnocchi (pork ragu, chili oil), along with entrees like Roasted Half Chicken and Steamed Cod.
From the team behind East Williamsburg’s beloved Champs Diner is another plant-forward American diner concept Hartbreakers. Set in a fast casual 1970s-inspired spot the specialty is fried “chicken” sandwiches like the Picnic Basket (seitan bacon, vegan cheddar, pickled red onion, and coleslaw) or the spicy and tangy Thunderbird. Sides of the crispy waffle fries are a necessity and take note that the indoor seating is slim, so chances are it’ll be a to-go meal.
A standout destination for Nigerian comfort foods is a West African spot from co-owners Hillary Uduh and his cousin Promise Edoro. Before opening this Knickerbocker Avenue eatery, Mr. Uduh came from a background of cooking with family from a young age then ownership of a few restaurants in Nigeria prior to emigrating. Utilizing his years of experience, the menu offers a variety of soups, stews, and dishes like Jollof Rice with Beef or Chicken; spicy black eyed pea Nigerian Porridge; and hearty meat pies. Particularly popular among guests is the pairing of the spinach- and goat meat-loaded Efo Soup with sticky balls of top tier Eba.
Normandy native Catherine Allswang, who has owned and cooked in restaurants in California and Paris, and her daughter Rachel, a former interior designer, turned this former garage space into a charming Art Deco-style French bistro. Since 2015, weeknight specials like the $30 prix fixe menu on Wednesdays and all you can eat mussels (with Duck Fat Potatoes and a glass of white wine) on Thursdays have gained the eatery a dedicated following among locals. On other nights, explore a menu filled with French family recipes like the Organic Chicken For Two (thyme crushed potatoes, confit garlic) and Beet & Dill Risotto topped with crème fraiche or drop by for a savory brunch time crêpe. Cocktails are named after historical female icons like the Coco Chanel (gin, lavender liqueur, lemon, sparkling wine) and the rosemary-infused rye Reine de’Medici.
A rotating menu of seasonal European and Columbian-influenced dishes, written on a chalkboard by the bar, greet you at partner and chef Ella Schmidt’s (Il Buco) intimate neighborhood eatery. Maite, which is a Basque word meaning “one who is loved and gives love,” offers a range of comfort food-driven shareable plates from Empanadas and Yuca Fries to Burrata and Gnocchi with mozzarella and shallots. Globally sourced natural wines helm the beverage menu, with additional offerings of beer and house cocktails like The Moncrieffe (bourbon, berry liqueur, pecan bitters).
Creating a subterranean oasis for traditional Thai street food and fare is owner Jugkrwut Borin’s Mao Mao. Also behind the recently revamped Jai Sang Ma skewer shop in Queens, Borin’s spot consists of theater-style seats, colored string lights, Thai movie posters, a giant projector playing a range of films, and an upbeat playlist of tunes ranging from Thai jazz to hard rock. On the food program, expect a wide variety of small plates and main entrees including fried peanuts called Tua Tod Sa Moon Prai and guest favorite Khao Mun Gai which is slow poached chicken and chicken fat rice served with ginger, chilies, and cucumber. A solid spot to kick back at for a while, sip on smooth Thai beers; traditional ya dong cocktails (rice whiskey mixed with native botanicals); or a Thai Iced Tea.
Celebrating its sixth anniversary this year, this pizza bistro continues to serve up the puffy, chewy sourdough Neapolitan pies they’ve become renowned for. Helmed by chef Mike Fadem, and partners Marie Tribouilloy and Gavin Compton, Ops prides itself on its natural leavening process, fermenting the dough for 26 hours, and using all organic ingredients, including a flour blend composed of spelt, wheat, and semolina. All pizzas are fired in a wood-fueled hearth for two minutes and are accompanied by an impressively lengthy natural wine list stocked with chilled reds and orange varietals.
Tucked between a row of warehouses on Harrison Place is tailor shop turned restaurant and cocktail spot from chef Scott Hawley (Bluebell Café) and his wife, Michelle Lobo-Hawley. Upon entering the dimly lit and long space, there’s an expansive wooden bar at the front followed by a small chef’s table facing the open kitchen and a quaint scattering of tables in the dining area. The menu consists of approachable comfort food with slight Italian influence like the seasonal Spring Gnocchi (mushroom-sherry sauce, peas, corn) and Braised Pork Shoulder pasta dish (pesto, miso, ricotta) with sweet offerings such as Olive Oil Cake topped with caramelized apples. Seeing that the spot was first intended to primarily be a cocktail bar, the beverage menu is a highlight with tropical specialties like the mezcal and charred pineapple Revenge of the Line as well as the St. Pierre & the Dragon (rum, aloe vera, passionfruit, charcoal).
When talking about the Neapolitan pie movement, Queens native Carlo Mirarchi’s pizza shop is crucial to the conversation. Since opening their doors more than a decade ago, the joint has acquired acclaim for sublime pies pumped out of a giant wood-fire oven and a chilled out ambiance complete courtesy of picnic tables seating as well as an on-site bakery. Choose from a roster of expertly crafted discs like the Speckenwolf (mozzarella, crispy speck, cremini mushroom, red onion) or go for the beloved chili flake and Caciocavallo topped Famous Original. In addition to this original Bushwick location, there’s another Brooklyn storefront in Domino Park, as well as two more in Los Angeles and Singapore.
Serving up heaping plates of Caribbean-American delicacies is the specialty at neighborhood joint Sally Roots. Named after an old recording from Sally Ruth Records, this spot, which opened in 2016, includes a central bar and expansive patio. Sunny menu items include Conch Fritters to dip in a coconut ranch sauce; garlicky mojo marinated Shrimp Skewers; and roasted Duck Confit Mofongo. An array of tropical drinks such as Catch a Fire (rum, pineapple, passion fruit puree, Kool Aid) and a Sugar Cane Mojito can be found on the beverage program.
Standing true to its name, these titular tacos have earned a high level of acclaim across the city. Sporting a bare bones interior, the house-made corn tortillas are griddled-to-order then generously stuffed with trompo-sliced pork, cilantro, raw onions, guacamole, pineapple chunks, and red salsa. Other standouts include the fried fish and grilled chicken tacos as well as a variety of quesadillas and burritos plated with rice, beans, and cheese or chips.
First opening in August 2020 and helmed by executive chef Chetkangwan “Jade” Thipruetree, Tong (meaning gold) serves Isaan-style dishes from her hometown of Khon Kaen, in Thailand’s northeastern region. On the menu there’s a list of 13 kub klaem (or small plates) ranging from Naem Khluk, a crispy rice salad with lumps of fermented sausage, to the sufficiently spicy beef tartare called Goi Neu. In addition, diners can add an order of a classic papaya salad or a savory variation like the Tum Poo Plara, which is made with fermented anchovy paste and crab.
Housed in a one-story brick building behind a garage door is this iconic tortilla factory and taqueria. Opened in 2006, the kitchen consists of a street cart parked indoors, accompanied by a handful of folding tables and plastic chairs for seating, that serves a sparse menu of tacos, taquitos, tortas, and tostados. While waiting for your order of carnitas; cecina (salted beef); chicken; beefsteak; or vegetarian tacos, you can watch the factory’s staff baking and bagging the freshly made top-notch tortillas through the Plexiglas windows.
Opened by Mongolian-born owner and chef Iveelt Bayart (Spice Market, Café Gray), this ramen shop is a showcase for gyukotsu, a beef bone marrow broth, instead of the more common pork-based tonkotsu. Slurp menu offerings from the long counter or intimate two-top tables in the dining room, while sipping on carafes of Japanese cold and hot sake. We suggest trying the house specialty Gyukotsu (braised short rib, bamboo shoots, sweet onion) and the spicy ground beef Tan-Tan variation, or opt for the chicken broth-based Shoyu with pork belly and hand squeezed thick noodles.