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.
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.
Chef-owner Joaquin Baca made his bones in the chilly Momofuku empire, but walked away from David Chang’s dominion last year to build this extremely welcoming DIY project. Brooklyn Star is a charming Southern-fried venture that takes its front-of-house cues from the same region that inspires its menu. The iced tea flows, Johnny Cash croons, and seriously hospitable servers shuttle some of Williamsburg’s most satisfying low-country grub. There’s elbow grease in the dining room (Baca built out the simple, wood-paneled space himself) and bacon grease in the kitchen.
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 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.
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.