New York’s best Williamsburg restaurants span everything from old-school steak restaurants—where the waiters still wear waistcoats and bowties—to hipster-approved eateries, where the chefs sport nearly as many tattoos as the clientele. There is plenty of choice, whether you’re looking for cheap eats before (or after) hitting one of the city’s best Williamsburg bars or great spots for brunch in Brooklyn.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Best Williamsburg restaurants
Much has changed in Williamsburg since 1950, but stalwart steakhouse Luger’s remains satisfyingly the same. The porterhouse for two (or three … or four) is the house specialty: dry-aged in-house and seasoned only with salt and clarified butter. But you would be remiss not to begin a meal here with the bacon: extra-thick, extra salty and rightfully famous on its own.
Much-heralded chef Missy Robbins delighted Williamsburg when she opened Italian stunner Lilia early in 2016. While Robbins is rightfully famed for her pasta (you’ve probably seen the mafaldini with pink peppercorns on Instagram a few hundred times), the sleeper hit is the soft-serve gelato, sprinkled with your choice of toppings like walnuts preserved in lemon syrup.
“Wait, do I eat the rock, too?” It’s an admittedly odd-sounding question, but it’s a legitimate one to ask while dining at Aska 2.0, the revival of the Michelin-starred Scandinavian kitchen helmed by Swedish wunderkind chef Fredrik Berselius. “No, just the two leaves on top,” the server replies without judgment. Those leaves are dried bladderwrack sourced from Maine, which Berselius and his workhorse band of sous chefs fry to a crackle and bead with blue-mussel emulsion. The plating you might not immediately understand, but the taste you do: It’s staunchly sea, with the briny funk of seaweed and shellfish. That inventiveness—rendering uncommon ingredients familiar (and common ingredients unfamiliar)—is what reaped Berselius much critical acclaim at the original Aska, which operated out of Kinfolk Studios until 2014.
This vegetable-forward 18-seater in Williamsburg has won near-universal praise since opening in 2014. With meat and fish playing only an accompanying role, greens and grains have their moment to shine brightly. The dishes change nightly and are predicated on what’s available from the restaurant’s farm suppliers, ensuring patrons sample only what is perfectly in season.
Meat is the keyword at this perpetually packed Williamsburg spot. While not a steakhouse per se, classic dishes like an iceberg wedge with blue cheese and warm bacon dressing will please any purist. More adventurous eaters, however, can chow down on mains like the bourbon-brined pork porterhouse. Oenophiles should not miss the wine list, which is immense and delightful.
Any Lima lover could tell you that there’s more to Peruvian food than citrusy ceviche and crisp-skinned rotisserie chicken, though both are dutifully on offer at Llama Inn, a lively terrarium of a restaurant disjointedly set beneath the BQE. Its chef is first-generation Peruvian-American Erik Ramirez who, following a sous stint at Eleven Madison Park, parlayed that heritage into an executive-chef post at high-end ceviche spot, Raymi.
This bright and airy Williamsburg spot serves food as cheerful and refined as its décor. Under chef Polo Dobkin, the Michelin-starred restaurant cranks out seasonal fare with an emphasis on crisp vegetables and straightforward fish and meat preparations. Keep an eye out for the cavatelli with braised rabbit, made lush with fresh ricotta and fava beans.
Chef-owner Nate Smith, who earned his gastropub stripes at the Spotted Pig, broke 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.
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.
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Salt + Charcoal
Jiro Iida (Aburiya Kinnosuke) wields fire and salt to boost locally sourced produce, Wagyu beef and imported catches (Scottish salmon, Madagascar prawns) at his robata-focused den. Using a traditional Japanese charcoal grill, he slow-roasts whole fish, tsukune (chicken meatballs) and even skewered gizzards over glowing imported oak coals. “Nature makes the ingredients,” he says. “Salt and charcoal make them delicious.” For each fired dish, he chooses an array of salts, including Japan’s preferred umi no ko from the Goto Islands. Off the embers, Iida offers house-made tofu, sashimi and a slew of salads (kale Caesar, seaweed) from his open kitchen. At the bar, the namesake margarita is sprinkled with charcoal-infused salt and a dash of jalapeño, while sake and shochu selections, along with the wine list, are chosen by a sommelier.
Venue says: “From February 20th to March 19th we will be providing a complimentary sample of our signature Dry Aged Beef Steak from our new menu!”