New York City set a record this year for attracting 50 million tourists to its iconic skyline and its surrounds. While we can’t be sure how many of those visitors made it across the East River to Brooklyn, those who didn’t definitely missed out. Manhattan will always be New York’s star, but Brooklyn is giving it a run for its money with ambitious restaurants and bars opening up all the time. Restaurant critics who’ve only ever had to go crosstown are now crossing the river to award rave reviews, stars, and “critic’s pick” checks to eateries from Williamsburg to Downtown Brooklyn. So here are our five (well, more like 10 — hey, it’s a big borough) bites of Brooklyn, from dark coffee to strong drinks and all the sustenance in between.
Coffee: You’ll have to wait in line, but it's worth it. Really. Originally out of northern California, Blue Bottle is the hippest spot serving the highest quality coffee in Brooklyn, if not in the entire city. They take extra care with each cup and make the (few) food options in-house. Order a New Orleans iced coffee and, depending on your mood, one of their addictive, upgraded s’mores or some deliciously sweet and salty granola.
Brunch: If you’d rather sit down to brunch than subsist on strong coffee and a muffin, Brooklyn’s got you covered. Egg is among the more popular choices, but its consistently hour-long waits deter many, including us. So we prefer Five Leaves in Greenpoint or Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens.
Five Leaves was conceived by Heath Ledger before he died, and his estate helped bring it to life. It is cool and laid-back, serving exactly what you want at all times of day. The mushroom toast, ricotta pancakes, and Moroccan scramble are among the best brunch items.
Buttermilk Channel (pictured) is a hidden gem that chugs along making phenomenal food for anyone who stops in. They make every accoutrement in-house, and shine with brunch items like pecan pie French toast, homemade granola, house-cured salmon, and a menu of custom Bloody Marys. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Steel Wool)
Lunch: Great lunch choices are easy to come by in Brooklyn, but if we had to narrow it down we’d choose one Manhattan transplant, one hard-to-find pizza joint, and a burger to rival Shake Shack’s. That’s the Meatball Shop, Roberta’s, and DuMont Burger, respectively.
The Meatball Shop is a popular downtown Manhattan eatery, and their Williamsburg location is no different (though the space is double the size so you'll sit down quicker). It’s affordable, quick, really delicious, and they make ice cream sandwiches in-house.
Roberta’s turns out such mouthwatering pizzas that Brooklynites, Manhattanites, and visitors to Gotham alike make their way to the truly non-descript Bushwick neighborhood and wait a half hour to finally sit down and indulge.
DuMont Burger churns out fresh, simple, and delicious burgers that really are a showcase for the best ingredients around. Their milkshakes are so good that even non-milkshake people are happy to slurp them down, and they make fries with just the right amount of crunch.