Williamsburg restaurant guide: The best places to eat now

The Williamsburg restaurant scene is constantly shifting—discover the best places to eat in the neighborhood, including critics' picks and affordable options.

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Spanning everything from old-school steakhouse Peter Luger, where the waiters still wear waistcoats and bow ties, to hip eateries like Reynard, the Williamsburg restaurant scene is one of the best in Brooklyn. There is plenty of choice, whether you're looking for cheap eats before (or after) hitting the bars or a great place for brunch.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn

  1. Critics' picks
  2. Cheap restaurants

Critics' picks in Williamsburg

The Commodore

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

First came the gastropub, an import from Britain featuring upmarket pub grub in an ale-drinking setting. Now, welcome the gastrodive, which further blurs the lines between restaurant and bar. The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to get blotto. The short menu—with descriptions as curt as the service

  1. 366 Metropolitan Ave, at Havemeyer St
  2. Average main course: $9. AmEx, Disc, MC, V.
More info

Peter Luger

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Although a slew of Luger copycats have prospered in the last several years, none have captured the elusive charm of this stucco walled, beer-hall style eatery, with well-worn wooden floors and tables, and waiters in waist coats and bow ties. Excess is the thing, be it the reasonably health- conscious tomato salad (thick slices of tomato and onion with an odd addition of steak sauce), the famous porterhouse for two, 44 ounces of sliced prime beef, or the decent apple strudel,

  1. 178 Broadway, at Driggs Ave, 11211
  2. Steak for two: $85. Cash only or debit card
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St. Anselm

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As cooking methods go, grilling may be the ultimate American art form. But New York restaurants, hamstrung by tight urban quarters (and by the Building and Fire Departments), rarely explore its smoky, greaseless, flame-licked potential. St. Anselm in Williamsburg may be the city's most impressive exception. A few months back, the restaurant morphed from New Jersey--style burger-and-dog shack to upmarket grill house. Owner Joe Carroll, who runs Spuyten Duyvil next door and Fette

  1. 355 Metropolitan Ave, between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
  2. Average main course: $17. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Nitehawk Cinema

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This Brooklyn venue screens new indie releases and has a robust retro program. Each individual theater has full-service meals, plus there is a lobby bar and a downstairs café that stays open late.

  1. 136 Metropolitan Ave, between Berry St and Wythe Ave, 11249
  2. Average main course: $12. AmEx, Diner's Club,...
More info

Brooklyn Bowl

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This bowling alley and live music venue fully embraces the new mania for local nostalgia. The space takes its design cues from Coney Island with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics, and all of the beer sold inside—by Sixpoint, Kelso and the Brooklyn Brewery—is made in the borough. This is a great place to kill a few hours with a big rowdy group: You can tackle a pitcher and the stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team (delicious fatty brisket, Old Bay–fried

  1. 61 Wythe Ave, at North 11th St, 11211
  2. Half-hour of play for up to eight people: Sat...
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Allswell

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chef-owner Nate Smith, who earned his gastropub stripes at the Spotted Pig, breaks out on his own with this laid-back Williamsburg tavern. The 47-seat space is done up with a reclaimed pine bar, vintage wallpaper in different patterns and brass-hunting-horn chandeliers with matching sconces. Choose from chefly bar grub (like smoked-trout spread or spicy pork-stuffed pastry rounds); heartier dishes (such as roasted lamb or shellfish stew); and greens (including a chicory salad

  1. 124 Bedford Ave, at North 10th St, 11211
  2. Average main course: $22. MC, V
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Fette Sau

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Doubts that Joe and Kim Carroll were serious when they named their new Williamsburg barbecue joint Fette Sau, German for “fat pig,” are put to rest at the food counter, where the lightest meat served is charred pork (even chicken has been banished). Any lingering apprehension vanishes at the bar, where beer drinkers can choose from ten brews on tap, offered in gallon-size glass jugs. Such unbutton-the-pants gusto, fervent even by gluttonous barbecue standards, makes Fette Sau

  1. 354 Metropolitan Ave, between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
  2. Average main course: $18. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Pies ’n’ Thighs

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Deprivation is the mother of New York restaurant hype. Pies ’n’ Thighs, the city’s most eagerly awaited Southern-fried grease trap, has kept Williamsburg in Pavlovian limbo since the start of 2008, when its first incarnation—a drunk-food closet at the back of a bar—was shut down to prep for a more spacious and permanent home. Last month, after endless delays, it finally debuted in a former bodega near the Williamsburg Bridge. The new version, run by the three chefs

  1. 166 South 4th St, at Driggs Ave
  2. Average main course: $10. Cash only
More info

Reynard

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The indications were there even before the high-rise condos began shooting up along the waterfront: in the twee fashion boutiques hawking $600 French frocks, in the retro bars devoted to serious craft cocktails, in the restaurants priced more for bankers than editorial assistants. Williamsburg, that once affordable beachhead of the postcollege set—entry-level New York for a generation of newcomers—was growing up fast. The tipping point is officially here. You’ll find it on

  1. Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave, at North 11th St
  2. Average main course: $22. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Rye

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The whiff of the hipster at Rye is undeniable—note the mismatched flea-market tableware, the salvaged turn-of-the-20th-century decor, the signless exterior. The vibe could easily inspire skepticism, if not slight intimidation. And yet the three-month-old American bistro from chef Cal Elliott (DuMont, Dressler) is unexpectedly egalitarian. This could stem from the simple fact that the chef-owner has prepared a menu of high-quality, delicious food at a very reasonable price

  1. 247 South 1st St, between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
  2. Average main course: $18. Disc, MC, V
More info

Blue Bottle Coffee

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Before this Williamsburg coffee bar and roastery came along, the only place in New York where you could find San Francisco’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee was at Gramercy Tavern. Now caffeine fanatics can sample the company’s shots of espresso and cups of joe—made to order from freshly roasted, mostly organic beans—without dropping a wad of cash on a dinner. Iced-coffee fans in particular should take note: Five contraptions from Japan will slowly cold-drip Kyoto-style brew,

  1. 160 Berry St, between North 5th and 6th Sts
  2. Average coffee: $3. Cash only
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Mesa Coyoacan

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Looking at the modern glass-and-steel building that houses Mesa Coyoacan, chef Ivan Garcia’s culinary paean to Mexico City, you’d never guess that a warm and intimate restaurant resides within. Filament bulbs, vintage wallpaper, traditional ornaments and a staircase lined with votive candles give the space a homey Southwestern feel. It’s the perfect atmosphere in which to enjoy Garcia’s excellent and affordable multiregional fare, a worthy addition to the neighborhood and

  1. 372 Graham Ave, between Conselyea St and Skillman Ave
  2. Average main course: $13. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Marlow & Sons

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Before there was a destination restaurant on every Williamsburg corner, there was Marlow and Sons—a pioneer in the kind of rustic aesthetic and farm-to-table fare that’s become the knee-jerk norm in Kings County. The restaurant, opened in 2004, wears its relative age well, functioning as an alluring neighborhood coffee shop during the afternoon and a subtly ambitious eatery come nightfall. In the back room, an oyster shucker cracks open the catch of the day, while a bartender

  1. 81 Broadway, at Berry St, 11211-60
  2. Average main course: $22. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Isa

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Over the past few years, some of the most inspired food in New York has emerged from the most unlikely locales—an old diner on a highway overpass in Long Island City (M. Wells), a repurposed garage out in Bushwick (Roberta’s). Isa, in Williamsburg, is the latest addition to this group, pushing the mash-up of high-concept cooking and a down-market setting to scruffy new extremes. The log-cabin-like restaurant features firewood stacked high against one wall, feeding an oven

  1. 348 Wythe Ave, at South 2nd St
  2. Average main course: $22. AmEx, Diner's Club,...
Make reservation

Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Hill Country, Fette Sau, Daisy Mae’s, Dinosaur: Back in the aughts it seemed like a new barbecue joint was opening every week. That boom brought us plenty of great low-and-slow meat, but barbecue—unlike, say, pizza or burgers—still hasn’t peaked in NYC. Mable’s Smokehouse and Banquet Hall, which opened recently near the Williamsburg waterfront, brings this all-American art form into a laid-back and saloonlike environment: The soundtrack is Blues Brothers, the patrons

  1. 44 Berry St, at North 11th St, 11211
  2. Average main course: $14. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Extra Fancy

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

With shiny new condos on the rise and the artsy masses receding to Bushwick, Williamsburg’s era of übercool stands at a critical juncture—an echo of Soho’s arc from bohemian mecca to blanched commercial landscape. At the moment, though, the changing ’hood’s wide-ranging bar scene is hitting its boozy peak, accomodating both high-minded and budget-conscious drinkers, with hoity-toity oyster bars (Hotel Delmano, Maison Premiere) and standout dives (the Commodore, Lady

  1. 302 Metropolitan Ave, between Driggs Ave and Roebling St, 11211
  2. Average cocktail: $12. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V
Make reservation

Zenkichi

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Noirish lighting, narrow passageways lined by trompe l’oeil mirrors that turn a small bamboo garden into a forest, seemingly endless twists and turns—you’re right to wonder just where you’re headed when the host at Zenkichi leads you to your table. Fortunately, the quixotic journey, which begins at a concealed entrance, has a happy ending. The destination is a private booth—complete with tatami shades—that is your intimate dining alcove. When you’re ready to choose

  1. 77 North 6th St, at Wythe Ave
  2. Average small plate: $9. MC, V
More info

Saltie

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This tiny, low-key sandwich shop comes to us from owners Caroline Fidanza (Marlow & Sons), Rebecca Collerton (Diner) and Elizabeth Schula (Il Buco). Together, they create simple yet remarkable sandwiches that rely on pedigreed produce. Most are served on house-baked sea-salt-speckled focaccia, a versatile vehicle that encases sardines, capers and house-pickled eggs in the Captain’s Daughter, a delicious riff on a pan bagnat. Mortadella, pecorino and green-olive spread combine

  1. 378 Metropolitan Ave, between Havemeyer and Marcy Sts
  2. Average sandwich: $8. Cash only
More info

Juliette

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Bearing all the hallmarks of the nouveau bistro—rust-dappled mirrors, tiny tables, insanely good looking diners, a noise level that exceeds a racket —Juliette still manages a few pleasant surprises. The wine list is crammed with bargains (many solid bottles hit the $25 mark), and the kitchen pulls off some pretty neat tricks, too. Seared Cape Cod squid marries fruity-sweet with citrusy-tart, by way of jalapeño and watermelon; steak au poivre showcases the kick of superfresh

  1. 135 North 5th St, between Bedford Ave and Berry St
  2. Average main course: $16. AmEx
More info

Moto

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The quirky décor with early 1900s objects and carbon filament bulbs is one aspect of this South Williamsburg hangout that attracts droves of loyal patrons. The focused, affordable Italian-accented menu is another. Bulgarian feta, soppressata and mint constitute a modern antipasti, while warm lentils form a satisfying starter when paired with a fig-walnut crouton. Among the mains, the chicken dijonaise has all the hallmarks of a classic bistro plate, but the kitchen takes risks

  1. 394 Broadway, at Hooper St, 11211-73
  2. Average main course: $14. Cash only
More info

Walter Foods

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The French-dip sandwich Photograph: Roxana Marroquin On a recent Friday night in Williamsburg, most of the restaurants along Grand Street—like at so many New York City locales nowadays—were sparsely, if at all, populated. Amid this depressing dining reality, there was Walter Foods, a warm American bistro populated with a young and carefree crowd that came out to eat and drink, recession be damned. The space immediately announces itself as one you’d like to settle into: A

  1. 253 Grand St, between Driggs Ave and Roebling St
  2. Average main course: $22. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Traif

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chef-owner Jason Marcus (Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park) may be Jewish, but as his Williamsburg restaurant—named for all things not kosher—attests, he’s far from opposed to pork, shellfish and other no-no’s. While some of his rule-breaking dishes reflect his Semitic ancestry (like steak with king-crab béarnaise sauce and potato latkes), others will take a more global perspective, such as crispy pork belly with kiwi, papaya and a Thai-chili vinaigrette.

  1. 229 South 4th St, between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
  2. Average dish: $12. Disc, MC, V
More info

Nhà Tôi

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This shop, the name of which means “my house,” brings traditional and innovative banh mi and Vietnamese summer rolls to Williamsburg. Creative twists on the popular sandwich include versions such as the “Pho Bahn Mi,” which stuffs a baguette with pho ingredients (Thai basil, cilantro, cucumber, bean sprouts and beef short rib). During the week, customers can also partake in the “family meal,” a rotating daily special prepared for the staff but available to all, and on

  1. 160 Havemeyer St, between South 2nd and 3rd Sts, door 6
  2. Average banh mi: $6. Cash only
More info

Radegast Hall & Biergarten

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Instead of ordering a sit-down meal of schnitzel under the retractable roof, hit up the grill guy for a fat kielbasa loaded with kraut and steer your brood toward one of the wood tables in the rustic hall. Imaginative youngsters just might believe they’re in Bavaria rather than Brooklyn. On a weekend afternoon, savor any of the Czech and German draft beers, like the Schneider Weisse. You’ll want to leave by early evening, before the bar is infiltrated by revelers chugging

  1. 113 North 3rd St, at Berry St
  2. Average beer: $7. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Potlikker

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The New York restaurant scene changes faster than fashion, with food trends shifting from cutting-edge cool to mainstream ubiquity as quickly as harem pants. Back in 2005, there was no such thing as the quintessential new Brooklyn restaurant—no Roberta’s, Vinegar Hill House or Buttermilk Channel—an archetype now mimicked by cynical marketers around the country. The form was just starting to take shape at rustic venues like Queen’s Hideaway, which opened that year in

  1. 338 Bedford Ave, between South 2nd and 3rd Sts
  2. Average main course: $23. AmEx, MC, V
More info
See all restaurants in Williamsburg

  1. Critics' picks
  2. Cheap restaurants

Users say

2 comments
Mary
Mary

I actually have to agree with Fat Goose in terms of the quality of their food. Not a typical Williamsburg hipster spot, but good for a grown-up dinner.

Jeff Gale
Jeff Gale

I appreciate your restaurant choices but my vote goes to FAT GOOSE 125 Wythe Ave.