casa publica
Casa Publica | Evan Sung
Casa Publica | Evan Sung
Food & Drink

Everywhere You Need to Eat in Williamsburg Right Now

Pontificating on Williamsburg’s ever-waning and waxing hipness is about as tiresome as waiting for the L train, but the north Brooklyn neighborhood is an undeniable dining destination. Some of the city’s best pasta, pizza, dim sum, and brunch line the ever-changing neighborhood’s streets. These are the best eclectic newcomers and beloved mainstays you should check out right now.

Lilia | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Best for a romantic pasta dinner: Lilia

567 Union Avenue
If you can manage to reserve a coveted table 30 days in advance, it’s crucial that you try the ever-popular salt-and-pepper-coated homemade mafaldini at chef Missy Robbins’ Williamsburg love letter to pasta. Share a few seasonal, veggie-focused starters before breaking into the bowls of homemade al dente pasta that are just dense enough to fill you up and multifaceted enough to leave you craving more.

Best for all-day brunch: Egg

109 N Third Street
A relic from when Williamsburg was just becoming a go-to neighborhood for brunch, this 14-year-old egg-focused institution (not to be confused with the offshoot of Manhattan’s Egg Shop) is known for its artfully plated Eggs Rothko, hefty homemade biscuits drenched in gravy (regulars know to go half mushroom, half sausage), and coffee served by the French press, also dating back to long before you saw personal glass carafes everywhere.

Birds of a Feather
Courtesy of Birds of a Feather

Best for a Sichuan feast: Birds of a Feather

191 Grand Street
Helmed by the team behind Midtown’s formerly Michelin-starred Cafe China, this whimsical Chinese restaurant melds modern and traditional Chinese cuisine to create a unique menu full of spicy dishes like pork and okra-stuffed egg rolls sprinkled with chili oil, homemade dim sum (including curry-studded steamed chicken dumplings), and a tea-smoked duck served with steamed buns for finger-friendly eating.  

Sunday in Brooklyn
Sunday in Brooklyn | Evan Sung

Best for post-hangover pancakes: Sunday in Brooklyn

348 Wythe Avenue
Equal parts cafe, bar, rowdy late-night hangout, and trendy brunch spot, Sunday is popular with the Instagram crowd most days of the week. Most flock into this multi-level space for the legendary pancakes, made extra fluffy with malt powder and served with a melting pat of butter. 

 Kings County Imperial
Courtesy of Kings County Imperial

Best for soy sauce on tap: Kings Co. Imperial

20 Skillman Avenue
This Brooklynized Chinese spot serves small-batch soy sauce from a tap at the bar and grows ingredients (like shooting star eggplant, long beans, and ginger) in its backyard garden. Come with a group and sit at one of the circular booths equipped with a Lazy Susan to maximize your exploration of the menu, which includes “Get Sum-Dim Sum,” noodles, and wok-fried dishes inspired by many regions of China.

casa publica
Casa Publica | Evan Sung

Best for a getaway to Mexico City: Casa Publica

594 Union Avenue
Everyone and their subletters are going on last-minute getaways to Mexico City, but if you can’t make it there yourself, your next best option is this Mexican spot slinging queso fundido, ceviche verde, and tortillas handmade from Mexican heirloom corn. Stick around for a few cocktails after dinner, like the weekly rotating frozen marg to or the more inspired “Experimentos,” including a pineapple-infused rum, Hennessy VSOP, and banana concoction.

Okonomi // Yuji Ramen
Courtesy of Okonomi / Yuji Ramen

Best for Japanese comfort food: Okonomi/Yuji Ramen

150 Ainslie Street
Operating as Okonomi during the day, the restaurant offers a traditional Japanese set breakfast and lunch, featuring the likes of fresh fish and vegetables. At night, it transforms into Yuji, where you can order off a la carte bowls of seafood-centric ramen, including a rich, tonkotsu-style tuna broth. You can also book tickets for special omakase dinners, or head around the corner to the restaurant’s fish market and cooking school, Osakana, on nights when it’s impossible to snag a seat.

Best for a secret mid-day snack: House of Small Wonder

77 N Sixth Street
It’s after lunch but before dinner and there’s no way you’re waiting until 9pm to eat again. Enter this secluded cafe’s whimsical dining room, full of plants, garden furniture, and eclectic tableware that combines to create a French-Japanese aesthetic. Pick from a spread of “small sandwiches” homemade bread, like salami and arugula, or fluffy organic scrambled eggs. Complete your bonus meal with banana cake and a lavender latte.

the commodore
The Commodore | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Best for fried chicken and tiki drinks: The Commodore

366 Metropolitan Avenue
This unmarked fried chicken joint is perfectly good for weekend tiki drinks alone, but you’d be remiss to skip over the perfectly crisp fried chicken sandwich, served with fluffy biscuits and honey butter to balance out the textures and load on the greasiness.

Maison Premiere
Courtesy of Maison Premiere

Best for oysters and absinthe: Maison Premiere

298 Bedford Avenue
Step back in time at this antiquey lounge channeling both New Orleans and Paris pre-iPhone. A grand, oval-shaped marble bar welcomes you into the dimly lit space, where platters of freshly shucked seafood and steamed lobsters are to tiny candlelit tables around the perimeter. On weekdays from 4 -7pm and weekends from 11am-1pm, a market selection of oysters starts at $1.25 per shuck. Chase them down with absinthe dispensed from an antique fountain, or a pina colada served out of a whole coconut, because why not?

four horseman
The Four Horsemen | Damien Lafargue

Best for natural wine and small plates: The Four Horsemen

295 Grand Street
Helmed by LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, this intimate wine bar offers an expertly curated selection of additive- and preservative-free wines from small producers across the globe. Some bottles start in the $40 range, leaving more room in your budget to splurge on vino-friendly small plates like beef tartare, charcuterie, and eggplant toast with ricotta.

Marlow & Sons
Courtesy of Marlow & Sons

Best for farm-to-table dishes: Marlow & Sons

81 Broadway
Brooklyn is inundated with New American, farm-to-table joints, but Marlow & Sons has been at it with which a daily rotating menu since 2004. The minimalist, white-washed dining room illuminates through breakfast, lunch, and winner with a rainbow of vegetable-forward dishes, like pale yellow chilled corn soup accented with shishitos or a sweet potato and bacon sofrito topped with a yolk-gushing fried egg.

Samurai Mama
Courtesy of Samurai Mama

Best for homemade udon noodles: Samurai Mama

205 Grand Street
Noodles are taken extremely seriously at this wood-lined Japanese restaurant. So seriously that it takes at least 48 hours to perfect a bowl of udon, from the homemade ropes of thick noodles to the specially filtered, chemical-free Kaiki Water used in the kitchen. Start with a few pieces of avocado-heavy sushi and homemade gyoza served sizzling in a cast-iron pan, before indulging in a bowl of steamy udon, available both as traditional soup noodle and “dump style,” which allows you to dip or dump your udon in a thicker sauce.

Courtesy of Lighthouse BK

Best for a low-key dinner without a reservation: Lighthouse

145 Borinquen Place
Lighthouse’s laid-back environment (and lack of wait) welcomes visitors in any night of the week for light, sharable, no-fuss dishes that show off a local bounty of produce. Pair natural wines with plates like charred eggplant tahini with tomato and soft egg, poached branzino, or a dry-aged cheeseburger, served with a layer of jalapeños.

Courtesy of Suzume

Best for whiskey with a side of sushi: Suzume

545 Lorimer Street
While most restaurants specialize in either sushi or ramen, Suzume is one of the exceptions that does both right. Order a few pieces of dressed-up raw fish, like a poke-style salmon topped with citrus zest and a bowl of grilled salmon ramen, before moving onto the main course: booze. A well-curated sake list helps intro beginners into fermented rice beverages, but those wanting a sweeter, slower sip can turn to the cocktail menu, full of fruit and vegetable juices and a wide range of liquors.

Best for barbecue: Fette Sau

354 Metropolitan Avenue
A barbecue mecca unlike any other, this stylish, refined restaurant is all about smoked meats (sold by the pound) and craft beer (sold by the gallon). House-smoked hormone- and antibiotic-free meats include beef brisket to pork belly, all rubbed in signature fragrant spice mixes. If you’re not filling up completely on meat, go for a side of baked beans with candy-like burnt ends.

Best for grilled everything: St. Anselm

355 Metropolitan Avenue
Pack up that George Foreman grill and head out to this radical non-steakhouse for a gourmet (but less expensive) version of your steakhouse favorites. Entrees include cuts of steak, lamb, pork, whole fish and a sweet tea-brined chicken, all complemented by gastropub-style renditions of sides like long beans and blistered shishito peppers. An excellent wine list, with yellow, pink, orange and red options by the glass and half bottle round out the experience.

Barano | Eric Medsker

Best for old-school cooking in a trendy space: Barano

26 Broadway
While Lilia may reign supreme for Italian in Williamsburg, don’t overlook this handmade pasta and pizza spot that’s far easier to get into (and equally worthy of attention). Start with antipasto (including three different types of mozzarella) before enjoying house-made pastas and pizzas that get hand-cut by the diner with a pair of special scissors.

Win Son
Courtesy of Win Son

Best for Taiwanese food: Win Son

159 Graham Avenue
Designed with the goal of introducing Taiwanese food newbs to the delights of the fragrant, flavor-packed cuisine, Win Son puts a Brooklyn spin on traditional Taiwanese dishes, in the form of sloppy joe-style pork buns, Instagram-friendly stinky tofu, and wu yu zi mian: a noodle-pull worthy dish flavored with mullet roe, chili, and cilantro. The creative cocktail menu also mixes Eastern and Western flavors, like in the Breakfast of Champions, shaken with peanut milk, roasted black sesame, aged rum, rum cream, and toasted coconut.

du's donuts and coffee
Du's Donuts | Katie June Burton

Best for an artisanal doughnut: Du's Donuts

107 N 12th Street
Oddly enough, Williamsburg seemed to be one of the last New York neighborhoods to get a destination-worthy specialty donut shop, but the wait was well worth it when former wd~50 genius Wylie Dufresne opened his gourmet yet accessible donut spot in spring 2017. Donuts ($3.50), include the familiar apple cinnamon and the more exotic brown butter key lime, peanut butter and yuzu, and a kaffir corn kruller that’s a much-welcomed substitute for a boring corn muffin.

Best for unpretentious, hearty meals: Diner

85 Broadway
Marlow & Sons’ neighbor and sibling restaurant dates back to 1999, and despite being housed in the converted dining car of a train, serves a legit, daily changing menu of satisfying yet complex dishes you could not eat in transit. A no-reservations policy brings a steady wait during brunch and dinner for a table, but you’ll be rewarded with dishes like a fried green tomato sandwich with mozzarella and fried eggplant schnitzel.  

Llama Inn
Courtesy of Llama Inn

Best for Peruvian food: Llama Inn

50 Withers Street
Boasting plenty of natural light, plant-lined ceilings, and a diamond-shaped bar (where you can sip you’ll pisco-based cocktails, like the Llama Del Ray), this corner Peruvian spot is known for its shareable anticuchos i.e. skewers of grilled seafood and meat, like scallops with crispy capers. Other small plates are also available, including a range of ceviches, as well as large-format feast, like the whole branzino served wrapped in a banana leaf with homemade Peruvian hot sauces and coconut rice.

Best for a group hang: Ainslie Biergarten

76 Ainslie Street
New to the nabe as of September 2019, this enormous restaurant with a spacious backyard (covered in cold months) offers plenty of space for a casual happy hour. From Tuesday-Friday until 7pm, meatballs are $1, drinks are $6, and personal wood-fired pies are $7. The primetime menu is extensive, with customizable antipasto boards, shareable small plates like ragu sliders and rosemary wings, and hefty pastas and platters of chicken parm.

Best for a casual, but trendy, meal: Gertie

357 Grand Street
You know that feeling when you want to go out for breakfast/lunch/dinner but don’t really want to brush your hair or change out of your joggers? Gertie’s your spot, three meals a day, every day of the week. Imagine your coolest older cousin’s living room, always open to guests with colorful breakfast goodies to get a slow morning started, lunchtime “sandys” you can scarf down while swiping through your inbox and shareable dinner platters, like a rotisserie chicken with rice and beans.

Emmy Squared
Emmy Squared | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Best for pizza you can eat by the tray: Emmy Squared

364 Grand Street
New York City is loaded with diverse pizza styles, and Emmy Squared’s signature six-piece rectangular pies among the city’s best new wave pies. Gluten-free crust is available for those who need or want it, but you’re here for the awesome topping combos, like the Roni Supreme generously studded with sizzling pepperoni cups, and the Big Ang, slathered in vodka sauce, ricotta, pecorino, mini meatballs and zingy banana peppers. If you’re willing to branch out beyond crust, start with the eggplant parm: thin rounds of Japanese eggplant, burrata and Calabiran-chili flecked red sauce crowd together in a basil-topped skillet for a gooey, indulgent, somewhat healthy (veggies!) app.

Best for a leisurely lunch: Klein’s

97 Wythe Ave. 
This hotel restaurant is adjacent to the Hoxton’s lobby-slash-co-working space, where on any given weekday you’ll see a slew of MacBooks and asymmetrical haircuts. Free Wi-Fi, not-free espresso drinks and pastel-hued furniture fills the space, which leads into Klein’s, the New American restaurant drenched in sunlight during daytime hours. Visit for lunch, when you can slightly overpay for a very good avocado toast ($13) or indulge in heartier plates like the burger with fried pickles, American cheese, and a side of fries.

Best for a quick and creative slice: L’Industrie

254 South 2nd Street
Yes, there’s a lot of excellent pizza in Williamsburg, but this small slice shop is worth a detour for the burrata pie alone. Thirty pies are on the menu, many of which are available by the slice, whether you crave the Rustica with tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichoke, brie and bacon or the white pizza with fig jam and goat cheese. Run by a pizzaiolo native to Florence, Italy, this shop doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a Nutella and strawberry pie available for dessert, and the option for guests to mix and match the wide variety of toppings for custom pies.

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Melissa Kravitz is a writer based in NYC. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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