20 Best Restaurants in Williamsburg
From decades-old standbys to new favorites, this hip, food-centric neighborhood has it all.
Even if you’ve never been to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you’ve most likely heard of it or seen it portrayed in countless movies and TV shows (everything from Girls to Younger). Previously known for its sizable Jewish, Italian, and Polish populations in the early 1900s, artists began moving into the area in the late ‘90s and early aughts attracted by low rents, and thus the tidal wave of gentrification began. Now it’s one of the city’s priciest zip codes and is home to an Apple Store, Equinox, and many other national chains.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not a heart and a soul to the neighborhood in 2021. And it’s still easy to find independently-owned businesses, especially in the restaurant department.
As one of NYC’s hippest neighborhoods, when it comes to food, Williamsburg practically has it all. From Caribbean cuisine to Peruvian fare, chic Parisian-inspired wine bars to top-notch tacos, there’s an option for every whim. Pioneering early upstarts like Diner, Marlow & Sons and DuMont laid the groundwork for Williamsburg’s trendy restaurant scene, and later Smorgasburg cemented its status as a food lover’s paradise.
So, whether you’re craving Scandinavian fine dining or a house-smoked brisket pastrami sandwich, it’s all within walking distance. Below, our guide to the 20 best restaurants in Williamsburg right now.
80 Wythe Avenue
Bar Blondeau is the newest effort from the team behind Le Crocodile, both of which are located in the hip Wythe Hotel. Think small-production natural wines paired with light, seafood-focused plates like garlicky mussel toast with tomato, and a basil-accented lobster salad. Nitecap alum Sörine Anderson designed the cocktail list, and it’s not a bad idea to grab a bar seat and try her Pan Am (rosé, tequila blanco, lemon oil, Aperol and lava salt) and gaze out for some killer East River views.
490 Metropolitan Avenue
Jackson Heights taco truck sensation Birria-Landia––credited with introducing the city to Tijuana-style birria tacos––debuted its second vehicle at the corner of Metropolitan and Meeker Avenue last fall, vending its namesake, beloved corn tortillas stuffed with juicy, adobo-marinated beef. The key to these tacos though is that they’re first dipped in a shiny orange-red blend of beef fat and spices, adding to the richness. For the perfect bite, order a small cup of beef consommé and dunk the taco in between bites.
495 Lorimer Street
Elyssa Heller’s sandwich pop-up, which launched within Paulie Gee’s pizzeria and gained acclaim for its excellent bagel constructions, spun off into a skinny Jewish deli sandwich concept this past spring called Edith’s (not to be confused with the legendary now-closed Williamsburg bar of the same name), planting its flag on Lorimer Street. Come by to pick up sandwiches built from bagels, house-baked rye and challah, or pita, packed with smoked salmon and heirloom tomatoes, chicken schnitzel, or go classic with house-smoked brisket pastrami, fermented sauerkraut, Emmental, and special sauce.
177 Bedford Avenue
Chef Matt Le-Khac debuted this modernized, post-Colonial era-inspired Vietnamese restaurant one month before the pandemic hit, and it’s his vibrant, acid-forward plates that have ensured he sailed through to better days. In fact, much of the brightness in his menu comes from ingredients he grows in Pennsylvania, think rare herbs like fish mint and betel leaves, in addition to bamboo shoots. Throughout the Vietnamese menu, expect chef-centric touches as seen in his excellent bánh xèo, or crispy crêpe, in this case served open-faced as opposed to folded, fortified with house-made duck prosciutto, foraged maitake mushrooms, pickled baby leeks, and a fermented shrimp and soybean sauce (different from the fish sauce typically found in the Saigon version of this dish) from his parents’ hometown of Huế.
Newish Brooklyn addition Francie does bistro food right thanks to chef Christopher Cipollone (Piora), whose American-European menu ranges from souffle cakes with seaweed butter and caviar, to ravioli with lobster and saffron, to a pithivier. Cipollone’s partner in crime is Bâtard alum John Winterman, and together the duo have schemed a modern dining room that has a European air to it, where guests can grab a bar seat for some light bites, or go all out in the dining room with a three-week dry aged crown of duck for two, the dish, amongst many, that keeps locals coming back.
Zach Wangeman makes 11 different types of single-varietal heirloom corn tortillas at Sobre Masa, his six-month-old all-day Oaxacan cafe that pays tribute to masa. Here, dishes highlight that earthy rainbow of heirloom corn that Wangeman sources from tiny milpas (farms) and fires on a traditional comal (Mexican flat grill top) from shrimp or avocado tlacoyos during the day to local fluke ceviche with chile manzano, red onion, and cilantro at night. Expect rustic dishes, ample heat, and undoubtedly some of the most authentic tortillas in all of NYC. FYI: In addition to selling tortillas to-go, Wangeman also vends Oaxacan coffee that he roasts in-house.
91 S 6th Street
Clean, minimalist interpretations of street food dishes from Central Mexico is the focus at two-month-old Aldama, the Brooklyn eatery from chef Gerardo Alcaraz (previously of The Black Ant and Spain’s award-winning Martín Berasategui) and partner/bartender Christopher Reyes (Cosme). Deriving inspiration from traditional Mexican dishes he grew up eating, expect rustic, yet refined plates of campechana, the classic seafood cocktail with cold-pressed vegetable juice and cilantro oil, and a daikon tostada, with ribbons of radish and carrot, salsa and avocado on an heirloom corn tortilla.
47 S 5th Street
The golden glow of flickering candles illuminates Aska’s dark, austere dining room, conveying a dualling sense of warm and cold often found at restaurants in Scandinavia. Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius leads the teams here, plating a minimalist $295 tasting menu that pays tribute to the seasons as much as it does to his Scandinavian roots. Of course, one will encounter wild foraged ingredients and ample fermentation as found in dishes like razor clams with preserved black pine, and one of Berselius’ most beloved courses, poached Norwegian king crab with white beet and pickled ramps, flavored with Swedish dark beer and garnished with flowering dill.
How to book: Tock
191 Grand Street
Husband-and-wife duo Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang who brought you the Michelin-starred Cafe China launched this Sichuan-focused eatery in 2017, specializing in everything from spicy noodles to house-made dim sum to braised whole fish in chili oil. At Birds of a Feather, Wang is the interior designer behind the sleek, modern space which features wooden booths and vintage-inspired light fixtures along with a small bar area.
291 Grand Street
Partners Maribel Araujo and Arístides Barrios debuted their casual Venezuelan eatery, Caracas Arepa Bar, almost a decade and a half ago, focused on affordably-priced arepas––the classic Latin cornmeal cake which, here, comes filled with everything from chorizo to pork shoulder. At this former participant of Thrillist Ghost Kitchen, house favorites include the De Pabellón, piled high with a mix of shredded beef, black beans, fried sweet plantains, and finished with a layer of cotija cheese. And don’t miss Caracas’ vast rum selection.
295 Grand Street
In a city rife with excellent wine lists, oenophiles flock to The Four Horsemen for rare and unsung bottles of natural wine unfound elsewhere in NYC. This stylish, diminutive wine bar channels a European feel and is perpetually packed with the cool kids not only for its booze (the place also stocked a concise collection of craft spirits), but for the clean, acid and umami-forward places designed by chef Nick Curtola. Fun fact: James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem is a co-owner.
436 Union Avenue
The two-year-old spinoff of Hanon in Tokyo, here udon––the thick, chewy wheat noodle born in Japan––is the focus, made in-house every morning and served both hot and cold. In fact, depending on the prep, Hanon uses two different kinds of udon: The classic white noodles (zenryu fun), and green noodles (asauchi). Think various forms of udon soup (curry, braised pork), or a more summer-friendly option of chilled noodles served beside a bowl of tempura. There’s also small izakaya dishes like Japanese fried chicken and sashimi.
How to book: Call 347-799-1433 or DM on Instagram
65 Kent Avenue
Delivering all the tropical energy we’re in need of right now, and inspired by island culture, year-old Brooklyn addition Kokomo offers a stellar take on Caribbean cuisine within a vibrantly-hued indoor/outdoor space. Couple Ria and Kevol Graham are behind the place, and it’s here one will find staples like jerk chicken and crispy fish tacos, alongside dishes with Asian accents, like gochujang wings. Transport yourself to the islands by grabbing a seat on their lush greenhouse patio.
254 S 2nd Street
Massimo Laveglia and Nick Baglivo opened this seemingly unfussy slice joint back in 2017, and since then, L’industrie Pizzeria has earned a devout following for its ultra-thin crust round pies laced with premium Italian ingredients. One of the standout slices that most order comes from the leopard-spotted, signature Burrata pie: it’s simple enough in execution––zingy tomato sauce, topped with grated mozzarella and mounds of creamy burrata, finished with extra virgin olive oil––and it’s those high-quality ingredients and a yeasty crust that makes this not your average slice stop. There’s often a line here (but it moves quickly) and patrons like to hang either at the outdoor tables or on a nearby stoop.
80 Wythe Avenue
Le Crocodile is the chic coastal French-feeling bistro located within the Wythe Hotel from chefs Jake Leiber and Aidan O’Neal, the same team behind nearby Chez Ma Tante in Greenpoint. Oversize tropical plants, glowing globe-style lighting, and brass accents set the stage for an elevated dining experience marked by classic French fare from hazelnut-topped leeks vinaigrette, to chicken liver pâté, to trout almondine.
50 Withers Street
Llama Inn––the hip, nearly six-year-old project from chef Erik Ramírez and partner Juan Correa––takes a modern approach to Peruvian cuisine, folding in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and paying tribute to the country’s cultural diversity (Peruvian, Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese). Expect plates like crispy pigs tail with soy sauce and coriander, scallop tiradito with tapioca, and the singular dish Ramírez can’t take off the menu: the lomo saltado beef tenderloin stir-fry, which comes with a scallion pancake and pickled chilis.
567 Union Ave
One of NYC’s most acclaimed restaurants, Lilia is the hyper seasonal, regional Italian abode from chef Missy Robbins, who converted a former auto body shop into her cultishly loved and industrial eatery. Honoring house-made pasta laced with saffron and honey or pink peppercorns and Parmesan, alongside seasonal veggie preps sometimes fired in a wood-fueled hearth, there’s more than good reason why it’s almost always impossible to snag a seat.
298 Bedford Avenue
After a brief shutter, Williamsburg’s beloved, vintage-styled oyster bar and craft cocktail den is back, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Inspired by old world New Orleans, and proffering the largest selection of oysters in NYC, at Maison Premiere, alongside an award-winning cocktail program with absinthe drips, tableside Sazerac service, and perhaps the city’s most delicious piña colada (served in a young coconut over crushed ice), this proper drinking den is a must for anyone visiting Brooklyn.
150 Ainslie Street
Okonomi gained a following for owner Yuji Haraguchi’s ingredient-driven, set menu Japanese breakfast and lunch, and eventually for his evening-only ramen, which he named Yuji Ramen. But because of Covid, he has merged the two services into one takeaway outfit where guests can set breakfast/lunch bento meals and ramens to eat outside on benches. Don’t miss the spicy tuna mazemen, the restaurant’s calling card, with confit tuna, sesame oil, and seasonal greens.
As one of NYC’s most iconic steakhouses, Peter Luger––in operation since 1887––serves beef in myriad cuts with a no-nonsense attitude. Claiming what looks like an austere German beer hall with wood paneling and simple wood tables, this perpetually packed American joint lures in NYC’s power players for dry aged steaks, alongside wedge salads and jumbo shrimp cocktails. Note, it’s cash only here.
How to book: Call 718-387-7400