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.

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

Critics' picks in Williamsburg

The Commodore

Critics' pick

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 you’ll encounter while ordering your food from the bartender—reads like a classic collection of fryolator junk. But the “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll. “Pork du jour” turned out to be two soft buns filled with a delicious mix of pinto beans, sweet-spicy barbecued pork and vinegary slaw. Chef Stephen Tanner, formerly of Egg and Pies ’n’ Thighs, heads the kitchen, cooking up fried chicken that trumps even that of his former employers—three fat thighs with extra-crisp, peppery skin and tender brined flesh, served with thimbles of sweet-and-spicy vinegar sauce and biscuits with soft honey butter. Even the thick fries are a superior product—right in the sweet spot between soggy and crisp. While the Commodore, with its fatty foods and blender drinks, would hardly qualify as a destination for dieters—the house libation is a frozen piña colada—Tanner and his crew do a fine job of keeping vegetarians happy. In

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Williamsburg

Mesa Coyoacan

Critics' pick

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 New York’s Mexican dining scene in general. An addictive appetizer of esquites melded the earthy-sweet flavor of corn kernels with a creamy, chili-spiked mayonnaise and salty bits of crumbled cotija cheese. Tangy, tomato-based seafood stew, meanwhile, provided a warming base for tender head-on shrimp, mussels and other toothsome fish. Building on the experience he gained cooking at Mercadito, Garcia also serves superb tacos: The carnitas came stuffed with juicy braised Berkshire pork, and the calamari tacos’ abundant white rings, while a touch overcooked, were perked up with a lively avocado sauce and blast of lime. One of the meal’s surprise highlights was the chiles en nogada entre, a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with pork, pears, apples and peaches and smothered in walnut sauce that seamlessly blended vegetal, meaty, fruity and nutty flavors. Don’t skip drinks or dessert: The selection of inventive margaritas (we loved the pineapple version with chili-infused tequila) and crisp churros with chocolate an

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Williamsburg

St. Anselm

Critics' pick

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 Sau across the street, had struggled without a liquor license to make the first concept work. Its new incarnation---finally greenlit for beer and wine---looks much like the old one, the dust-bowl collection of rusty saw blades on the walls and light fixtures supplemented now with banners from an old Masonic temple. But the food these days is much more ambitious than cheese fries and artisanal brats. Carroll, who swapped out the griddle and fryer for a blazing gas grill, has taken to calling the place a "blue-collar steakhouse," but that's not quite right. There are just two steaks on the menu, and while the charred hanger has great earthy flavor, the more eclectic offerings are much more the draw. The well-rounded menu, heavy on veggies, combines Mediterranean, Asian and all-American flavors---the cooking method ties it all together. Head chef Yvon de Tassigny (also the pit master at Carroll's barbecue joint) has given the grill here a starring role. Among the many delicate "smalls from the grill," as

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Williamsburg

Allswell

Critics' pick

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 with figs and pomegranate). The drinks list takes a locavore slant with small-production wines and craft beers on tap, plus a selection of market-driven cocktails.

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Williamsburg

Fette Sau

Critics' pick

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 great fun. After waiting dutifully in line, patrons order their meats by the pound, glistening mounds heaped onto paper-lined baking trays (only about half the menu’s offerings are available at any given time). Want a drink? You’ll have to make a separate trip to the bar. For those who prefer their smoke in a glass, there’s an encyclopedic bourbon selection—no surprise to diners familiar with Carroll’s obsessive Belgian beer list at Spuyten Duyvil. Offsetting the boozy pedantry is the physical space, a former auto body shop. Picnic tables now fill both the driveway and the cement-floor garage, and tractor seats serve as barstools. The hipsters in the crowd, sporting handlebar mustaches, their finest plaid button-downs and Cat diesel hats, looked like they’ve stopped for dinner enroute to a red-neck costume party. They dab their soiled fingers with low-grade paper towel—the Wetnaps haven’t arrived yet. Carroll leaves the cooking to pit master Matt Lang, a reformed fishmonger from Pearl Oyster Bar, and his

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Williamsburg

Peter Luger

Critics' pick

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, which comes with a bowl full of schlag. Go for it all—it’s a singular New York experience that’s worth having.

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Williamsburg

Pies ’n’ Thighs

Critics' pick

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 behind the original—Carolyn Bane, Erika Geldzahler and Sarah Buck, who met working at Diner—is a full-fledged restaurant with prompt, personable waiters and beer and wine service. Still, the place retains the DIY, seat-of-the-pants spirit of the dive that it sprang from, with food specials scrawled on sheets of paper, chairs and tables that might have been salvaged from a public school, and overhead lights so bright, dining there feels like sitting in detention. The food, not the venue, is clearly the draw. While the down-and-dirty Southern fare—honest, cheap and often delicious—is certainly in line with Brooklyn’s all-American moment, it’s an audacious departure from the borough’s judiciously sourced, seasonally orthodox, self-righteously ethical ethos. Yes, the chickens are antibiotic- and hormone-free, but you won’t find the name of the farm where they came from on the menu. The catfish, meanwhile, is a generic farmed product. The hot sauce is Frank’s Original RedHot—$3 a bottle at C-Town—the grits Quaker Instan

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Williamsburg

Nitehawk Cinema

Critics' pick

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.

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Williamsburg

Blue Bottle Coffee

Critics' pick

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, while those who like to add milk should consider the stronger New Orleans-style preparation, fortified with chicory.

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Williamsburg

Brooklyn Bowl

Critics' pick

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 chicken) laneside between frames. The plush tufted couches are the most luxurious alley seating we’ve ever seen.

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Williamsburg

Rye

Critics' pick

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 point. An artichoke stew reminded us of an update of DuMont’s signature white-bean and artichoke salad; only in place of delicately fried baby artichokes and toothsome legumes, Rye offers fragrant artichoke hearts in their braising liquid with firm flageolet beans, highly concentrated oven-roasted tomatoes and a splash of basil oil. Another generous starter featured grilled sardine fillets heaped over zingy preserved tomatoes on a thick slice of country bread, drizzled with salsa verde. Elliott shows as much confidence executing bar food as he does with refined fare. The same chef who created a sandwich of melting short ribs with creamy garlic-horseradish vinaigrette excelled at delicate butter-poached lobster with citrusy corn salsa, sweet corn flan and a crme frache--enriched avocado mousse. The cocktails, created by Dram’s Tom Chadwick, featured a tight list of both classic and original concoctions worthy of the antique setting. We savored the Hemingway, an ambrosial blend of white rum, maraschino liqueur

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Williamsburg

Marlow & Sons

Critics' pick

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 churns out potent drinks. Settle in and order a round of iced bivalves and something to share—brick-flattened chicken, say, or a pot of liver pate—from the aggressively seasonal (and frequently changing) menu.

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Williamsburg

Mable's Smokehouse and Banquet Hall

Critics' pick

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 are young and rowdy, and a big wooden bar across from the chow line serves Lone Star beer, pickle-juice cocktails, and trashy snacks like Frito Pie and Velveeta dip. Artist turned pit master Jeff Lutonsky, who opened the restaurant with his actor wife, Meghan Love, takes his craft far more seriously than this roadhouse setting suggests. His smoked meats and church-social sides, while not quite in the top tier in the city, are certainly better than your average alcohol sponge. The first-time restaurateurs—natives of Oklahoma and Kentucky, respectively—pumped their families for recipes. They named the place for Jeff’s grandmother Mable, the source of their top-secret sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. The couple spent the months before opening scouring flea markets and junk shops for decorative elements—the old beer signs, stuffed deer head and vintage LPs that fill the wood-paneled space. Their regional focus, crossing state lines, is just as much of a hodgepodge. The very limited menu, featuring just three meats and

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Williamsburg

Isa

Critics' pick

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 that heats the dining room and another that bakes bread, roasts meat and singes Greenmarket produce. Smoky aromas of campfire cooking engulf you as you walk through the door, eyes adjusting to a candlelit space filled with handmade wood furniture. The setting screams of a simple, back-to-basics ethos. But the food here tells another story, with flavors teased out using cutting-edge cooking techniques and plating straight from the pages of a coffee-table cookbook. This is one of the year’s most unusual restaurants, a hot spot with some of the most creative high-end food in any borough. The menu, which changes nightly, needs some explaining, which the warm host here offers over and over as new diners come in. A single photocopied sheet lists dishes with some oddball ingredients—dried scallop, flax soil, trumpet powder, smoked yolk—available à la carte or in a $50 three-course prix fixe. There’s confusion among the hipster hordes, drawn to the place not by its chef but its impresario owner—scene-maker Taavo Som

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Williamsburg

Juliette

Critics' pick

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 pink, green and black peppercorns with a knockout veal reduction. But best of all, in warm weather a pretty roofdeck means you can escape the bistro—if you want.

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Williamsburg

Traif

Critics' pick

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.

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Williamsburg

Saltie

Critics' pick

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 in the Little Chef, an exceptional spin on the New Orleans muffuletta, and the Spanish Armada features a potato tortilla slathered in pimentón-spiked aioli. Saltie is also a great spot for sweets, like buttery apple galettes.

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Williamsburg

Zenkichi

Critics' pick

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 from the sake and small-plate izakaya (that’s Japanese pub grub) menus, simply press a button at the edge of the table. It summons the server, who promptly appears as if from out of the ether. The whole experience is confounding, in a good way, and in perhaps the most surprising twist, the transporting setting doesn’t outshine the equally enchanting food.

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Williamsburg

Extra Fancy

Critics' pick

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 Jay’s). Bridging the gap is the seaboard-inspired Extra Fancy, where $4 Bud drafts share menu space with local rosé wine. The bar-restaurant hybrid reflects the neighborhood’s high-low culture clash, catering gamely to both scruffy bearded types and the area’s recent influx of spendy settlers. DRINK THIS: The team behind the joint has direct lineage from cocktail guru Dushan Zaric’s nightlife empire: Owner Mark Rancourt put in time at Macao Trading Co., and beverage director Robert Krueger paid his dues at Employees Only. Accordingly, the drinks list spotlights plenty of voguish spirits, like Averell Damson Gin, and approachable contemporary cocktails. The zippy Ray-Ray (Plymouth Gin, Pimm’s #1, herbs, Cel-Ray soda) proves herbaceous and refreshing, while the tart Squibnocket showcases a balanced mix of funky Banks 5 Island Rum, rich Kronan Swedish Punsch, fruity beach plum puree and fresh lime juice. Less successful is the Papi, Do Me a Favor—El Tesoro Platinum, dry sherry, Cocchi Americano, Royal Combier, grape

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Williamsburg

Nhà Tôi

Critics' pick

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 weekends dim sum is served.

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Williamsburg

Honeychiles'

Critics' pick

The Charleston—a dimly lit Williamsburg dive—offers some of the city’s best drunk food via this Cajun-themed takeout window. Order from a short menu and snag a pitcher of Abita from the bar while you wait. The “O.G.” po’ boy is the most joyously junky offering: The humongous two-hander resembles a poutine sandwich, with a mound of salt-and-pepper fries smothered in shredded-beef gravy and stuffed inside a mayo-slathered hero. Prices fit the setting: A $5 heap of andouille-and-chicken jambalaya, served on white rice to offset the heat, is a deal too good to pass up.

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Williamsburg

Reynard

Critics' pick

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 the corner of Wythe Avenue and 11th Street, under an arty neon-lit sign that shimmers hotel. The Wythe, Williamsburg’s first blockbuster hotel, might seem to some like the beginning of the end for the neighborhood—Soho entering its shopping-mall phase—with its rooftop bar drawing long lines on the weekends, its hot scene of a ground-floor restaurant packing in pilgrims from across the East River. And it might have been, if not for the man behind those eating and drinking establishments. That restaurant, Reynards, and its upstairs sibling, the Ides, are the brainchildren of Andrew Tarlow, a restaurateur as responsible as any for Brooklyn’s culinary ascendancy. In 1998 he opened Diner, followed in 2002 by Marlow & Sons—restaurants with remarkable longevity that still carry the torch for the artisanal food movement they helped ignite. Tarlow’s new restaurant builds on everything he’s done so far, elevating all the usual Williamsburg tropes. The made-in-Brooklyn aesthetic he pioneered is much more polished in

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Williamsburg

Moto

Critics' pick

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 as well, seen in the pork ribs rubbed with herbs de Provence and enlivened by a squeeze of lime. The quarters are tight, and the nightly jazz/swing bands blend well with the rumble of the elevated train outside.

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Williamsburg

Radegast Hall & Biergarten

Critics' pick

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 mammoth steins.

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Williamsburg

Walter Foods

Critics' pick

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 dark wooden bar, with stools to match, is a prominent fixture, as are floor-to-ceiling windows and antique-style lighting that lend a warm glow and understated old-timey vibe. That aesthetic carries over to the food and drink, which, like the space, seems to give you exactly what you are in the mood for: Well-mixed cocktails, executed with seriousness by bow-tie--clad barkeeps, include classics such as the Tom Collins, a frothy refreshment of gin, lemonade and soda, and respectful innovations, like the fig sidecar, a soothing blend of fig syrup, aged rum and more lemonade. The dinner menu, meanwhile, is populated with hit-the-spot standbys: There’s a formidable French-dip sandwich—moist slices of filet mignon in a crackling baguette—and a heaping plate of juicy fried chicken, with a greaseless, well-seasoned crust. It’s no wonder that the formula seems to be working so beautifully right out of the gate. The owners, Dylan Dodd and Danny Minch, were reared at the perennially packed, hip-down-to-a-science eateri

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Williamsburg
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Cheap restaurants in Williamsburg

The Commodore

Critics' pick

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 you’ll encounter while ordering your food from the bartender—reads like a classic collection of fryolator junk. But the “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll. “Pork du jour” turned out to be two soft buns filled with a delicious mix of pinto beans, sweet-spicy barbecued pork and vinegary slaw. Chef Stephen Tanner, formerly of Egg and Pies ’n’ Thighs, heads the kitchen, cooking up fried chicken that trumps even that of his former employers—three fat thighs with extra-crisp, peppery skin and tender brined flesh, served with thimbles of sweet-and-spicy vinegar sauce and biscuits with soft honey butter. Even the thick fries are a superior product—right in the sweet spot between soggy and crisp. While the Commodore, with its fatty foods and blender drinks, would hardly qualify as a destination for dieters—the house libation is a frozen piña colada—Tanner and his crew do a fine job of keeping vegetarians happy. In

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Williamsburg

Egg

This Southern-accented breakfast-only abode has no parallel in Billyburg or beyond. Perch on mismatched chairs at a paper-covered table, wake up at a leisurely speed to the old-time folk music on the sound system, and tuck into a cheap meal that may include eggs Rothko (a slice of brioche with a hole in the middle that accommodates a sunny-side-up egg, all of which is covered with sharp cheddar) or a terrific country-ham biscuit sandwich. If you must have dessert at breakfast, finish with a bowl of caramelized grapefruit and mint.

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Williamsburg

Le Barricou

After reinventing itself, this French bistro in Williamsburg now serves even more affordable classics, like cassoulet and bouillabaisse, than it did when it first opened. In the back, a nineteenth-century–style wine lounge with antique furniture and a functioning fireplace opens onto a small garden space.

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Williamsburg

Pies ’n’ Thighs

Critics' pick

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 behind the original—Carolyn Bane, Erika Geldzahler and Sarah Buck, who met working at Diner—is a full-fledged restaurant with prompt, personable waiters and beer and wine service. Still, the place retains the DIY, seat-of-the-pants spirit of the dive that it sprang from, with food specials scrawled on sheets of paper, chairs and tables that might have been salvaged from a public school, and overhead lights so bright, dining there feels like sitting in detention. The food, not the venue, is clearly the draw. While the down-and-dirty Southern fare—honest, cheap and often delicious—is certainly in line with Brooklyn’s all-American moment, it’s an audacious departure from the borough’s judiciously sourced, seasonally orthodox, self-righteously ethical ethos. Yes, the chickens are antibiotic- and hormone-free, but you won’t find the name of the farm where they came from on the menu. The catfish, meanwhile, is a generic farmed product. The hot sauce is Frank’s Original RedHot—$3 a bottle at C-Town—the grits Quaker Instan

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Williamsburg

Blue Bottle Coffee

Critics' pick

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, while those who like to add milk should consider the stronger New Orleans-style preparation, fortified with chicory.

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Williamsburg

La Superior

Despite La Superior’s promise of traditional Mexican street food, our meal here was frustratingly inconsistent. The alambre de res, a greasy medley of skirt steak, bell peppers, onions and melted cheese, was no greater than its parts, but the fish pibil (tilapia, pickled onions and sweet plantain) had all the bold flavor that the rest of the menu lacked. With no dessert and a BYOB policy, La Superior could stand to serve more dishes that are as intriguing in taste as they are in concept.

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Williamsburg

MatchaBar

Brothers Max and Graham Fortgang’s ode to matcha (vanilla almond, cucumber) sources tea from family-owned farms in Japan for pour-overs and “matchaccinos.”

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Williamsburg

Brooklyn Brewery

Williamsburg's craft-beer facility offers reservation-only small batch brewery tours (Mon–Thu 5–7pm; $8) and free general tours on Saturday and Sunday (see website for details). You can also sample beer in the tasting room.

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Williamsburg

Okonomi

New York’s ramen mania rages on, with Ivan Ramen’s full-service slurp shop on the Lower East Side, a planned stand-alone from Long Island City pop-up Mu Ramen and this 380-square-foot ramen-ya from noodle whiz Yuji Haraguchi. A sit-down offshoot of the chef’s Kinfolk Studios and Whole Foods counters, the chestnut-walled restaurant specializes in ichi ju san sai—a traditional Japanese meal of one soup and three side dishes—for breakfast and lunch, with options like broccoli rabe shiraae (tofu-and-sesame-dressed salad), roasted Spanish mackerel and miso soup with ramp stalks. For dinner, snag a seat at the four-stool counter overlooking the open kitchen, where Haraguchi turns out a reservations-only, daily-changing ramen tasting.

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Williamsburg

Saltie

Critics' pick

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 in the Little Chef, an exceptional spin on the New Orleans muffuletta, and the Spanish Armada features a potato tortilla slathered in pimentón-spiked aioli. Saltie is also a great spot for sweets, like buttery apple galettes.

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Williamsburg

The Saint Austere

You'll find none of the typical wine-bar posturing at this Williamsburg spot, which ditches the trendy art and light jazz (relics of the '90s yuppie dens that first defined the genre) in favor of industrial accents (aluminum bar top, plumber's-pipe shelves) and old-school hip-hop. You might not even peg it as a wine bar until you spy the big wooden toolbox behind the bar, which doubles as a storage case for Old World wines served by the glass. The list is tight and well focused, with reasonable prices (most glasses go for $9--$10) and some choice picks from co-owner Fabrizio Pirolo, a former distributor. We settled in with a 2008 Le Velette Resso di Spicca sangiovese ($9 per glass), a vibrant red with an earthy nose, rich notes of cherry and a slight mintiness. Next came a procession of excellent small plates: a bowl of absurdly creamy polenta ($10), kicked up with spicy crumbled sausage and enriched with chicken jus, and confited pork belly ($14) with crispy brussels sprouts and tart agrodolce. Grab a glass of Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco ($11)—a sparkling red wine from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region—to cut through the richness.

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Williamsburg

Nhà Tôi

Critics' pick

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 weekends dim sum is served.

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Williamsburg

Honeychiles'

Critics' pick

The Charleston—a dimly lit Williamsburg dive—offers some of the city’s best drunk food via this Cajun-themed takeout window. Order from a short menu and snag a pitcher of Abita from the bar while you wait. The “O.G.” po’ boy is the most joyously junky offering: The humongous two-hander resembles a poutine sandwich, with a mound of salt-and-pepper fries smothered in shredded-beef gravy and stuffed inside a mayo-slathered hero. Prices fit the setting: A $5 heap of andouille-and-chicken jambalaya, served on white rice to offset the heat, is a deal too good to pass up.

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Williamsburg

Cubana Social

Williamsburg gets a spacious Cuban restaurant, with a menu featuring bites like a Cuban sandwich with house-made pickles, plus classic rum cocktails.

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Williamsburg

DuMont Burger

Kids and adults alike flock to DuMont Burger for its namesake patty, but also for its bacon-specked mac and cheese (available without meat, too).

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Williamsburg

Foodswings

Owner Freedom Porio-Tripodi is a fabulously named, life-loving vegan who just happens to crave every American’s birthright: greasy diner food. Instead of marinated tofu and bean sprouts, the menu lists animal-free, road-trip–worthy pleasures like faux fish sticks, soy-cheese nachos and a tempeh Reubenesque sandwich. Billyburg burnouts can stop in from 11pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays for the Midnight Munchie menu.

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Williamsburg

Blue Collar

From the Miller’s Tavern team, this cheery hole-in-the-wall is the Bruce Springsteen of burger stops—a no-fuss nod to the greasy-spoon glory days of roadside diners. The Flat Top burger—griddle-pressed à la In-N-Out—is swaddled in a squishy Martin’s potato roll with gooey American cheese, lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, pickles and mayo-based special sauce. Split-and-seared beef franks get a zippy lift from tangy kraut; shoestring fries are salty and crisp; and thick milk shakes (in vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, or cookies and cream) are hand-spun.

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Williamsburg

SEA Thai Restaurant and Bar

The DJ’s beats are thumping, the central pool is presided over by a giant Buddha, and the Billyburg crowd is decked out in the latest Bedford Avenue threads. For a place that’s so stylin’, the prices are shockingly cheap and the food is remarkably good. Jade seafood dumplings are stuffed with shrimp and crab and come with a nutty Massaman sauce. Rama the King, a blend of creamy Massaman and red curries topped with crunchy Terra Chips, is a reliable entrée. Another winning combination is a half-chicken, grilled with lemongrass and panang curry. Service can be scattered, but pomegranate mojitos will help you keep your cool.

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Williamsburg

Crif Dogs

New Jersey native Brian Shebairo expands his popular East Village hot-dog mecca to Williamsburg. True to its casual roots, the small Brooklyn outpost will be outfitted with old-school video games, steel floors and a vintage skateboard collection. You'll find the same late-night munchies on offer: Tater-Tots, chili cheese fries, milk shakes and snappy, deep-fried dogs in creative combinations, like the Tsunami (bacon-wrapped with teriyaki sauce, pineapple and green onions) and the John-John Deragon (cream cheese, scallions and a sprinkling of everything-bagel seeds). But this location will also appeal to the early-morning set with a takeout window serving Intelligentsia coffee and breakfast sandwiches a few steps from the Bedford L stop.

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Williamsburg

Battery Harris

Vets of Village Pourhouse and the Taïm truck turn to Caribbean comfort food and Latin cocktails with this 144-seat bar. The Queens-born owners pay tribute to the Rockaways with the name—a nod to an abandoned beach bunker in Fort Tilden park—and shore-inspired decor, including colorful stained-wood interiors, a transparent geometric roof and a wraparound deck. Richard Gibbs (Caracas Arepa Bar) dispatches spiced plates like jerk chicken wings, jalapeño mac-and-cheese pie and roasted-corn-and-cabbage slaw tossed in a Scotch-bonnet vinaigrette. Rum-heavy tipples include the Double Impact (lemon, kumquat shrub, vanilla and orange-blossom water) and the Quest (lime, basil and Angostura bitters). Also on offer: nearly 20 domestic beers and four wines on tap.

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Williamsburg

Bia

Owner Duke Quan (Duke’s) named this 55-seat bar-restaurant, tucked under the Williamsburg Bridge, after the Vietnamese word for "beer." Fifteen taps pour draft beers (Radeberger, Sixpoint, Founders) and tap wines. Dig into Vietnamese plates—such as com tam bi cha (shredded pork, egg and crabmeat served with rice) and bo kho duoi bo (oxtail stew)—on the rooftop deck or at the 18-foot-long communal wood table indoors. The space, a former auto-repair shop, retains industrial furnishings, like oil-drum tables and old auto-shop signs, as well as an upright piano in the corner.

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Williamsburg

Kelloggs Diner

Open 24 hours, this Williamsburg mainstay offers classic diner fare: creamy milkshakes, solid burgers, enormous salads and the ilk, plus the chance to scarf it down from a proper diner booth. Kellogg's gets bonus points for the fact that you'll see a totally different slice of the local demographic depending on what time of day/night you visit. Best time of the entire year to visit? Halloween at 4am—the diner is packed and everyone is in costume.

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Williamsburg

Patisserie Tomoko

Haute pastry whiz Tomoko Kato (Bouley Bakery, Le Bernardin) crosses the bridge for this dessert tasting menu restaurant spotlighting French-Japanese confections. Snag a seat at the eight-seat horseshoe-shaped bar for a three-course prix fixe including an amuse-bouche, a choice of sweet (black-sesame crème brûlée, green-tea cheesecake tart) and petits fours like namachoko (a Japanese truffle-like confection). The pastries can be paired with wine, Toby's Estate coffee or In Pursuit of Tea brews. A to-go counter offers custom cakes, savory breads (potato-zucchini focaccia) and cookies (caramel-walnut sandwiches, mango macarons).

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Williamsburg

Whirlybird

Bass player Jeffrey Bailey (Virgin Forest, Phosphorescent) serves breakfast tacos at this Williamsburg takeout coffeeshop. The tacos—inspired by ones he had while touring in Austin—are made with a oaxaca-cheese egg scramble and homemade salsa on a crisped corn tortilla and topped with potato chips and cilantro. Bailey, an Oslo alum, also serves espresso shots pulled from a La Marzocco Linea and made with the beans roasted by his former employer. The three-stool shop doubles as a gallery for independent music, showcasing the discography of a new record label, with framed albums on the wall, every two months.

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Williamsburg

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Former wd~50 pastry chef Sam Mason—of BK dive Lady Jay's and artisanal condiment company Empire Mayonnaise—returns to his sweet roots with this 20-seat ice cream parlor in Williamsburg. Inspired by old-school soda fountains, Mason fills the lofty beige room with vintage accents, including a chalkboard menu, custom wooden stools and dangling schoolhouse lights. A rotating selection of 12 ice creams—served in cups or hand-rolled cones—showcases his avant-garde repertoire with flavors like corn bread and chorizo-caramel (the eccentric combos inspired the shop's name), along with more familiar options such chocolate chunk and burnt marshmallow. Nab a seat at the red-topped counter for house-made sodas and thick shakes spun from the daily offerings.

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Williamsburg
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Comments

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.